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The Best Interview Advice I Never Got

I was recently on a plane flying home from a trip to Florida and I was sitting next to a gentleman who looked to be in his mid-50’s. He was dressed to nines in a very nice suit and I could see on his iPad that he was reading some interview questions. He caught me being nosey, and volunteered that he had a big interview with a contractor in D.C. and was doing some last minute preparation. I asked him if he was nervous, and he said that he had been in so many interviews throughout his career, that they didn’t seem like much of a big deal now.  Plus, he was confident enough in his interviewing skills that he was usually able to relax by the time he arrived for the interview.

My encounter with this gentleman really made me think. At 43, I dread the notion of still having to interview when I reach my mid-50’s, but the reality for a lot of people is that many of us will need to keep our interviewing skills sharp up until we either retire, or get too old to hire (yes – age discrimination still happens).

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When I was in college, I knew that being able to interview was a skill that I would need in order to get my first job. But I never envisioned it being a skill that I would need for my entire career. But that is the way it’s worked out. In my nearly 17 years in the insurance industry, I’ve had promotions, lateral moves and job changes that all required interviews. Suffice it to say that, unless I wanted to stay in the same
job with the same pay for 30-40 years, knowing how to interview for the next role was essential.

So, just how do you prepare for an interview? There’s a TON of advice online as well as in books that offer tips for acing your next  Meditate_Tapasya_Dhyanainterview. You can Google interview questions and find pages upon pages of sample questions that you may be asked, allowing you to prepare your responses and impress the interviewer. And these resources are extremely helpful. But for me, one method that has really allowed me to sway interviewers through the years is meditation.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Meditation? Really? Who do you think you are, Deepak Chopra? But, hear me out on this one.

Since the introduction of Transcendental Meditation in the 1960’s and 70’s, the practice of meditation has been growing steadily in the U.S.  Numerous studies hail the positive effects of meditation on everything from depression to breast cancer. There is no doubt that interviewing for a new job can be one of the most stressful of experiences, and I’ve found a good 20-30 minutes of meditation prior to an
interview can work wonders on my anxiety levels. And adding some visualization to my meditation – painting a mental picture of myself wow-ing the interviewer and having him/her bow down before me in awe of my prodigious communication skills – makes the effect that much more potent.

There are more methods of mediation that I can cover in this short article, but no matter which method you try – mindfulness, mantras, reciting sacred scriptures, or even taking a walk in nature – you may find that the calmness and self-assuredness that results from your practice, along with an increased ability to relax and focus, can go a long way in helping you really stand out in your next interview. So, if you’re not meditating already, it is something I highly recommend just giving a try. And who knows? It just may benefit you in ways other than interviewing. But you won’t know unless you try.

Good luck on your next interview!

Post by Mike Davis (CLAS ’94)

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