Discover Exactly What Makes An Outstanding Interview…
When was your last job interview? How did it go?
For many, interviews are an uncomfortable and anxiety-filled process where they feel nervous, self-conscious, and the opposite of confident.
Join Dr. Aziz as he interviews his guest expert, Elatia Abate on exactly how to increase your interview confidence so you can be more relaxed, come across better, and ultimately command a better position and salary.
Click below to hear this episode!
Elatia Abate is an entrepreneur who uncovers opportunities for businesses and individuals. She teaches organizations how to unlock the potential of innovation through experimentation and action. She teaches people how to take charge of their own life-changing career transformations and craft careers that don’t feel like work.
Her unique approach combines unbridled enthusiasm with years of innovation and recruiting experience to show her clients that they are capable of achieving far more than their current horizons envisage.
Prior to founding her practice, Ms. Abate was Vice President of HR Projects and Director of Recruitment for Dow Jones & Company. She served as Global Director Talent Acquisition at Anheuser-Busch InBev. She is a design thinking enthusiast, as well as a lover of improv comedy and storytelling.
To Contact Elatia directly, simply email her at: Elatia-at-ElatiaAbate.com
How To Have More Confidence In Job Interviews
Welcome to the show today. Today we’re going to be looking at an area that is exceedingly important, still related to career. This one is about your interview confidence. How do you feel in a job interview? How do you shift that nervousness, that anxiety that discomfort, that fear of how you’re coming across that, that attachment to the outcome. “Oh my God, I’d better get this job. I better not mess this up. ” And of course what happens when we’re super attached to the outcome or terrified of messing it up? Well, usually we do something that that brings that about, right? We get tensed, we get awkward, and we get stilted. We leave the room and afterwards say, “Oh, man I could have said that to this question. I should have said.”
We do all the should-haves on ourselves and that comes from a lack of being fully present, spontaneous, comfortable and confident in ourselves in the job interview. And so, when you can bring that energy into a job interview, that as you know is just as important as your technical skills and that’s the sad truth of an interview is it’s not just about can you do the job, it’s how you come across. Do they like you? Do they feel personable with you? Do they think that you’re going to get along with the other employees? Because work, almost 95% of the time, is a social endeavor. It’s a social activity.
Even if we’re each individually working on something, we ought to get together in meetings, in the hallway for group events or treats whatever it is and they got to feel like they can’t connect with you and so that confidence is what that allows that to happen because you can show more of yourself, you can be more of yourself. And that’s exactly we’re going to learn in today’s episode. We’re going to continue with our interview with guest expert coach Elatia Abate who has done some tremendous work in this area. She excelled in the corporate world, became a leader in several big companies and then turn around and did a lot of interviews with people so she knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the equation and she’s got some powerful insights not only for how to increase your confidence and how to see the interview, how to see the interviewer so you’re not so nervous around them. But also, some strategies, things to do to become more competent and effective in the interview because as Les Brown says there is no substitute for confidence like competence.
If you know what you’re doing, if you got the things handled, if you’re competent then you’re going to be more confident. And you might be asking: How do I get more competent at doing an interview? I might have never interviewed at that company before. Uh-huh. Well, for that, we’re going to have to turn over to the expert and my friend Elatia. I’m going to jump back into that interview now and you’ll find the answer to that question.
Speaking of confidence, you’ve also had a lot of success in business and been in leadership positions and director positions, and so, for the person who is in their company and they don’t necessarily want to change careers or change jobs, they just – they want to thrive more. They want to excel more in the job and the career that they’re in but they’re held back by some fears, by lack of confidence whether it’s dealing with someone in senior management or speaking up in those meetings or stepping into a leadership role and those are all things that you’ve done. And so, I think we can all learn from you and model you in what you did. So, first and foremost, was there a time where you felt that uncertainty in yourself or lack of confidence in your particular job?
Elatia: Oh, my gosh of course. Yes at many points along my career I felt a lack of confidence from probably I would say one of the best examples is my second job out of college. I begin to work as an executive recruiter and I was hired into a company to help hire and recruit Fortune 500 technology executives from big companies, I was 23 years old. I didn’t know anything really about the technology industry. I was trying to read all these white papers and do all this research. But here I was having to call up very, very senior executives and convince them to leave a job that they were happy with to go to a job that has some sort of applied potential at least as far as we saw it.
And so, in order to do this job, I modeled, I sat with my boss for a couple of days and listen to how he made phone calls and spoke with people and then it was time for me to start off with my own call list and so being the kind of prepared person that I am I wrote out a script of what I was going to say and practice it a few different times and then I picked up the phone and I dialed all of the numbers except for the last one and had to slam the phone down because my heart was beating so fast I was too scared to make the phone call. And this happens several times before I actually had the guts to punch that last number and complete the dial and try to get somebody on the phone and even then I landed in somebody’s answering machine. I felt so relieved.
Dr. Aziz: Thank God. Oh, thank God I don’t have to talk to them.
Elatia: I don’t actually have to talk to the person. Yeah. So, that started out very early in my career and I had to overcome that and it just took practice. It took doing it over and over again. It took making a lot of embarrassing mistakes. But the key was to stick with it and to keep trying and to learn from the people who are around who are much better at it than I was. Would you like more examples?
Dr. Aziz: No. That is fantastic. All right and the beauty of it is it you can – you see the humor in it now and I think when we’re in the moment though there is this energy or sort of gravity to it like this is the life or death of me.
Dr. Aziz: And what I love what you were saying about modeling someone who can do what you want to do and I think we often overlook this or we think, “Oh, that’s not me. That’s them and they’re different than me and I’m worse than them.” But when you are watching your boss at the time and as you started to model it, what are some of the specific? Can you remember some of the very specific things you did when you’re interacting with someone in a senior position? That what are some of the subtle things you picked up like his voice tone or the kinds of things he would say or anything that you notice was effective in dealing with someone in the position of power or authority?
Elatia: Yeah. So, first and foremost, I think just being friendly and approachable and the best way to – and particularly if you do get nervous and speaking either in public or the people who are more senior than you or something that’s challenging, you might say to me, “Oh, yeah sure. How do I be friendly and gregarious when I’m terrified out of my mind?” They key to that is what I also learned with him which is being extremely curious. This is a point where your ingenuity, where your creativity and where your lack of experience and lack of knowledge, all that’s actually going to serve you together because you don’t know all of the answers so you can be really curious about what’s going on and that will break the ice, that will create the friendliness and the openness and the gregariousness that no people recommend that you utilize. But being curious is probably the best way to approach that kind of a situation.
Dr. Aziz: I love it and when you’re curious, you’re naturally asking yourself questions that are guiding your focus to them like what about this person. “What is their experience of their work? How are they doing? Versus “Me, oh my God, what do they think of me? How does my voice sound me?” and with that echoing in our minds it can be pretty nerve wracking and difficult to connect so I love that, that shift of the focus and let’s pause here. Take a quick break and then we’re going to jump back in to the interview with Elatia
As you kind of moving, kind of jumping ahead in your career I know you held positions of director and leadership in different companies such as Anheuser Busch, any tips or let’s say someone is like wanting to move ahead in their career and they’re building their confidence. What are things that you did in either one of those positions in different companies, actions you took, things that you did that, that allowed you to excel, allowed you to progress, anything that you notice that could be useful for others?
Elatia: Yeah. So, I think first and foremost, again being really curious about what’s going on and what I mean by that is not just in the department where you’re working. So, both at Anheuser Busch InBev and Dow Jones, I was working in the Human Resources Department. But because I engage frequently with people in the marketing department in the supply chain organization when I was at Anheuser Busch, InBev and all of the other organizations of the company, what I was able to do was learn about challenges that really that crossed over all of the areas of the business so I could create and offer projects and solutions that although they were rooted in Human Resources actually solved overarching business problems. And so, I was able to be involved in all kinds of projects that most people would say, “How in the heck did a Human Resources person get involved in this product innovation project?”
Well, it’s because I was curious and I was listening and then all of a sudden here we are creating brand new innovations for products. So, I would say being curious is probably the biggest best most effective way to do that and then being really creative. And what I mean by that is taking what you learn and thinking about the challenges in the organization where you sit and coming up with interesting solutions. Create a game for yourself. I often play a game and what I would do with myself when I was with these organizations is play a game called ”How might I?”
So, I would discover a problem. We need to hire really a whole bunch of really talented people for our sales organization and we need to involve the entire senior leadership team to actually interview them. How might I do this in one day? And so, I would create this game and brainstorm a whole bunch of ways to solve this problem and actually come up with a solution that we would implement so again turning your observations into games that then allow you to create solutions that are effective.
Dr. Aziz: Absolutely and I love so many things that you’re saying. Just to comment on one though is how important that sort of if you think about what would get you promoted in an organization is that you can benefit the organization. It’s not because you work there really long time or even if you’re a really nice guy or nice girl like it’s going to help but really it’s like can you add value? Can you benefit? And the best way to add value, I love it is to get curious is to talk to people in different areas and different departments and start to see the company as a broader whole as opposed to just your little specialized piece and that’s the difference between kind of the technician level versus the leadership leader. So, I think that’s incredibly valuable information. And just moving along to another area that I think you can really help people with which I know is a major challenge for people when they’re showing with confidence in themselves is interviews, job interviews, you know how to be more confident in them but also how to do them well.
Dr. Aziz: And I think that you’ve been kind of – you’ve had a unique perspective in being involved in recruiting and bigger companies so you have a window into what might work, what doesn’t work and just to get started with that subject, what have you seen some of the things that people do that is kind of shooting themselves in the foot for interviews? Sort of someone like oh, oh, don’t do that.
Time of interview when they’re doing it and just kind of you knew they were done. They were toast but maybe you didn’t tell them right away. But just anything that you know besides the obvious like makes sure you’re wearing pants. Like I’m talking about things that…
Elatia: A good first step, a good first step, yeah.
Dr. Aziz: Fundamentals, fundamentals here but yeah. Little things that people might be doing, mistakes they might make that they might not be even aware of that really kind of get in the way or block their chances.
Elatia: Yeah, yeah. So, it’s kind of two opposite ends of the same spectrum and one is the rambler. So, this is the person who you may asked, “Well, tell me about yourself” which is kind of a tricky interview question in the sense that you’re like where do I even start with that? What do I say? The rambler would take 10 minutes to answer that question and where you really want to be for that question or any other one for that matter is somewhere between a one-minute and two-minute kind of answer because although that seems like a really short amount of time in your mind, just try and sit quietly for two minutes and see what happens. You’ll think that the whole two minutes have passed and it’s actually 30 seconds. So, being careful not to wander on too long in your speech and then sort of the monosyllabic guy who will answer yes or no without building any rapport or building on the story of why the answer is yes or no. So, forcing the interviewer to dig deeper and dig deeper and dig deeper.
Dr. Aziz: Yeah.
Dr. Aziz: We don’t like to – the socially, too. We don’t want to have to work too hard to get people to draw them out. I see this, I was actually just speaking with a fellow earlier this morning and he was wanting, struggling in to be more confident at work and so we’re talking about just casual interactions because that’s a big part of work as if we can come across casual and comfortable and as part of charisma and eventually leadership. And so, we’re talking about let’s say someone – first of all, does he ask people how’s it going? How is your weekend? That sort of thing and he’s like, “No, no I don’t do that.” Well, let’s say someone asked you how is your weekend and you’d be like, oh, I’d say like, “Pretty good.” And I’m like, “Let’s not give them much to work with.” You know people like, “It feels good. I did XY and Z. We went to the zoo or whatever.” And now they have something to work it. They’re starting to connect and what I’m hearing from you is it’s the same in an interview.
Dr. Aziz: We need to give them something to work with and at the same time you don’t want to melt their face off with boredom because you’re talking on and on about, “Well, I like long walks on the beach.” So, and about – we’re going to take one more quick break now and then we’re going to get back into the final segment of our interview with Elatia.
What is really – so, being clear and succinct in your answers, what’s something else that someone might do that is really noticeable in an interview that helps them stand out from the crowd as like, “Oh, this is someone who really impressed by or considering?”
Elatia: Yeah. People who listened to the question that you asked and then answer that question in an effective manner. So, many times especially when people get nervous and anxious, they will anticipate the question that the interviewer is asking and then we’ll start answering the question that they’re anticipating but that’s not the question that the interviewer actually asked. So, you end up in this very awkward dance of miscommunication. And so, really listening to the question that you’re asked and then creating a story for the answer of it. And what does that mean and how do I create a story that’s effective in an interview, aren’t people just asking me questions?
Well, I will tell you that for every job interview that I’ve done post my undergraduate, I actually I will look up online standard interview questions and you can just type this into Google and there are millions of lists out there for resources for you to use and then industry-specific or job kind of specific interview questions that are also available online. It’s also for marketing or human resources. And I will spend the time to quite literally craft a quick one to two-minute story that has a beginning, middle, and end about my experience that answers each of those questions and then I rehearse that. And so, people who are able to come into an interview and understand the question that’s being asked and then tell a succinct and relevant story about why it is that their experience is relevant really stand out from the crowd.
Dr. Aziz: Absolutely and that’s a great form of preparation. I know some people have gone so far as to think about standard interview questions or look them up but to for your response to actually construct a story, that’s brilliant because we’re moved by stories. We’re impacted by the story more than just some data or some information about the person and it makes that much more memorable. That’s a really important process. And also, I’d imagine that preparation helps your certainty or your confidence.
Elatia: Yeah. It helps build your certainty and your confidence and what happens is because if you rehearse your answers a few different times, when you get into an interview situation and you get nervous because most of us do, I certainly still do, you have the story already in the back of your mind so you don’t really need to fumble around for the words. They’re already there for you and they appear as you’re having the interview.
Dr. Aziz: Yeah. I’m curious about having kind of been in probably both roles, is there anything — as the interviewee, is there anything I can know or remind myself of about the interviewer that might help relax me a little bit, any kind of the little hacker inside information that I could tell myself to just be like, just to let turn down the stress or the pressure in anyway?
Elatia: Yeah. So, first and foremost remembering that whoever it is that’s sitting on the other side of the table from you is also just a human being who has had to go through the same kind of a process and they maybe kinder and gentler or a little bit colder than others that you’ve ran into but then they’re just human beings, too. So, I think that’s the first and foremost thing to remember. And then secondly, something that I often talk with my clients about in general be it for interviews or be it for getting new business, again, going in with that mindset of curiosity and being agnostic, detached from the outcome of the interview.
So, the interview is just one more opportunity for you to improve your storytelling, get really curious about what’s going on at that company. And if you can think about the interview as I don’t need this company, I don’t need this person and certainly I don’t need this person at this company to love me, then all of a sudden you can, you serve – as our coach says you kind of die before you go into battle so you can approach the interview in a much more comfortable fashion.
Dr. Aziz: That is so important because interviews, any person you’re interacting with socially, dating or relationships, if you were hyper attached to, “I must have this person to like me or else I will curl up and die.”
Dr. Aziz: Not only is that so anxiety-producing but it has the exact opposite effect. People pick up on it unconsciously and/or they feel aversion –
Dr. Aziz: – as a softer word or repulsed as it gave you more true and accurate word. There’s like huh and so it’s a lose-lose but if you can really remind yourself of that it’s very empowering and naturally gives you so much confidence. So, I feel like any of these things that we’ve touched on, we can probably spend the whole hour on just on that one topic. But given this podcast, we’re going to need to wrap up the interview. But for anyone who is listening whose got their interest piqued in how to have more satisfaction in their work, career change, the risks involved in that and how to have the courage to do it, how to create their optimal future and have the motivation to go after it as well as improving their interview skills and having more confidence and leadership, all of that stuff that I know you can help them with, how can people follow up with you and get in touch with you about accelerating one of these areas of their lives?
Elatia: Yeah absolutely. I’m very easily reachable through my email address which is my first name elatia-at-elatiaabate.com.
Dr. Aziz: Fantastic. And I will also have a written version of that. People can just click on as well so you don’t have to be grabbing your pens; just you’ll see a link below on the Shrink for the Shy Guy.com website. So, thank you so much for joining us today Elatia. I personally learned a huge amount that I’m going to share with, with the people that I work with and I’m sure everyone listening. You got some really key insights from our conversation today.
Elatia: Well, thank you so much for having me. This is a blast to do and I can’t wait until the next time.
Awesome. That brings us to the end of the interview and just about to the end of the episode but we can’t leave without doing, what? One thing, that’s right your action step.
Your action step for today is to really apply what you learn in this interview with Elatia and there’s one thing that I highly, highly recommend you do which is look up common interview questions and come up with stories for them. I mean that is one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about interviews and I’ve said this stuff a lot and that was new to me. Of course, looking up the questions and preparing, I’ve heard that before. But answering them in the form of stories, that is brilliant because we as humans are wired to be impacted by stories, to remember stories, to be fascinated by stories.
My little son is one-year-old and all he wants to do is he’ll hand you books and once you look through them and read him the story, even though he stops paying attention after like six seconds but he’s wired, he wants to know stories and the interviewer is the same way and they’re going to remember you if you share your story. So, even if you don’t have – if you have a job interview on the horizon especially do this. But even if you don’t, pick like one or two of the most common interview questions you can find and come up with a story for them because it will prep you. It will help you become more confident and to know, “Hey, when I get out there, I can excel. I can do great in interviews.”
So, that brings us to the end of our show today. If you liked it, if you enjoyed it, if you thought it was valuable or useful in your life and you love for this to keep coming to you for free just as a free offering to help spread operation social freedom in the world, you want to help share this with other people, please rate this on iTunes. Give it a five-star rating or some little text review that will help us reach even more people. So, thank you so much for joining and for listening it. I look forward to speaking with you in the next episode until we do. May you have the courage to be who you are and to know that you’re awesome.
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