“How’d I do?”
Next time, you’re nearing the end of an interview, whether you think things went wonderfully or horribly, and you’re tempted to ask the interviewer, “How did I do?,” DON’T DO IT!
We all know that most people hate being pinned down and forced to give their honest opinion. I mean, yes, I’m fine with telling people what I think…and that’s why I became a coach. But many people dread having to tell their friends, never mind a stranger, their honest opinion. Many people can barely be honest with themselves. I’ll never forget, years ago, a friend admitting to me that it was so hard to know what to say when people asked her for advice. She absolutely hated being asked her opinion or advice on anything. Therefore, if you, a stranger, ask someone to evaluate you and your chances–and, in reality, let’s face it, you’re asking for approval–….yipes. More likely than not, you’re going to ruin a perfectly good interview. If you’re in the process of getting a job, you’re going to have to give yourself your approval, so as to let this process work for you. Not to mention, at some companies, it may be their policy not to tell you anything until more people have had the chance to review the interview.
Let’s face it, companies want to hire confidence. Companies are looking to hire people who, ideally, know what they hell they’re talking about, or, at the very least, can convince their superiors that they know what they’re talking about, so management can stop thinking about them, and instead go deal with a thousand other issues. Confidence sells, confidence gets jobs. Confidence is what gets dates, for god’s sake: at the end of the date, are you really going to hang out again with the boy who’s asking you, “Hey, did you like me? Did you have a good time? Can we hang out again? What are you doing tomorrow, want to have breakfast? How do you like your eggs? Do you think the kids will get my nose or yours?” Suddenly, you’re probably going to be very busy very far away.
Nothing succeeds like confidence. True story: When I was in my early 20s, working for a big cable news network in Washington, D.C., one of my first assignments was to cut the lead evening news package. As the bureau chief gave me this task, I distinctly remember thinking, “Hmm, now what exactly does it mean to ‘cut a package?'” I had, after all, just arrived in D.C. from Moscow, where I had been an assignment editor, so besides field work, I really didn’t know what all a package producer did. (Short answer: Ignore your reporter’s moronic whining about his/her boyfriend/spouse/children, all the while reassuring them that their career isn’t on the skids because their rival is getting more airtime; keep your cameraman fed so he at least tries to help you cover the story, as you argue with the assignment desk about the misinformation they gave you at 5:00 am in the morning.) I was, indeed, a little anxious, but I presumed, correctly, that my boss did not need to know the depths of my ignorance. I figured it out, and the package made air.
Interviewing for a job is about selling yourself. That may seem gross–sorry, hippie–but such is life. To get a job, you have to sell yourself to the hiring manager as someone who knows what they are doing, and is excited to do it on behalf of this sterling company. To get a great job, you have to sell yourself as someone worthy of the company’s prestige–or, at least the company’s sensitive ego about their prestige–as someone worthy of representing the company. All the tips people give regarding interviewing– make eye-contact, firm handshake, know what you want–all of those tricks, in one way or another, are tricks to help you sell and create confidence.
You may think, “Carlota, that’s easy for you to say, but I feel like a total fraud.” And you’re not the only one. I guarantee that some of the people you most admire still have mornings, when they wake up and think, “…what the hell…? What am I doing with my life?” I’ve had people sit in my office seeking guidance, people with resumes that make me think,”…shouldn’t I be making your coffee or something?” Read the biographies of world leaders, of cultural icons, and you’ll see they all discuss, in varying degrees, feelings of inferiority, feelings of self-doubt and fear. Anton Chekhov, on his deathbed, believed that within a decade, no one would be reading his works. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, died thinking that his books were worthless.
You feel like a fraud sometimes, everyone feels like a fraud at times: life is confusing, and intimidating and bizarre. But to get the jobs and opportunities you want in this life, you’re going to have to master that fear and pretend that you know exactly what you’re doing. And guess what: when you get out of your own way, when you stop dwelling on your fear, you’ll probably be surprised at how much you really do know.
I’m sure you know people who are extremely talented, extremely educated, but because they don’t trust themselves, they always seem to be on the brink of failure. They cannot succeed because they won’t allow themselves, because they don’t believe in themselves. Therefore, no matter how smart they are, they’re not trusted (and, of course, they don’t trust themselves) with the opportunities they need to shine. A very vicious cycle.
That’s why, the next time you’re in an interview, and the hiring manager asks if you have any other questions, take a moment to think. If you haven’t already done so, this is the time to ask her some smart, prepared questions about the company, and specifically about the position. If you’ve already asked a few solid questions, and you think you’ve wrapped everything up, give her a big smile, thank her for her time, make sure she has your resume and cover letter, shake hands and leave. You’ll find out, soon enough, how you did.