Most people associate the word performance with something false. If you are performing the implication is that you are pretending to be something that you are not. However, if you go into an interview you have a small window of time to highlight your suitability for the role. In this sense, the performance element is about delivering on the day.
Across a broad section, including everyone from elite athletes to surgeons and sales executives, performance is seen as key. Delivery within a time frame is everything. If you fail to do so you ‘lose’ or miss your target and in the case of professionals with more responsibility the stakes are obviously much higher. This post is not intended to create anxiety. For many people over-coming nerves is the most difficult part of the equation. But it is important to develop a sense of urgency around the message you are trying to deliver. And this is where performance comes in. We don’t want to be so tightly wound as to under-perform nor do we wish to be over-zealous, so striking a balance between these two points is essential.
We strongly advise against learning anything off by heart. As experienced members of interview panels we know that this is all too easy to identify. The candidate's delivery comes across robotic and lifeless. Furthermore, if you trip over a sentence in a memorised piece, it can quite easily upset you, making it very difficult to recover. Being able to deliver your message in a conversational tone is important. The way to ensure that you perform well is to prepare your answers aloud. Many candidates study or write out what they are going to say and this is never a good idea. On the day, you will be speaking, so it is important to practice speaking in advance. Regale you loved ones or friends with stories of your various competencies. Record yourself speaking aloud and try to polish it up each time.
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By doing this you will prepare yourself as well as possible for the day and most importantly develop a flow to how you tell your story. Tell the story once, one way and again another way. Riff off the various examples and experiment with how you tell the story each time. Ask yourself am I answering the question. See if you can deliver the message more succinctly. Is your message impactful? By approaching the interview in this way you are preparing yourself well.
Much of the training athletes undertake revolves around muscle memory. This basically trains your body to over-ride your mind. The goal is for your muscles to remember how to execute a particular move through all of the noise and pressure surrounding you when you are called on to ‘perform’. This is exactly why talking is so important. If you know the terrain of each competency well and have rehearsed regularly, then your ‘muscles’ will take care of the rest. After you have completed the preparation the key task is to simply show up. If you have put the effort in, the performance will take care of itself.
However, if you have had a bad experience of an interview or find that you get overwhelmed easily, there is no quick fix for this. H-Training can offer some assistance with that which should help you improve each time and manage your previous experience better. Yet, with bad experiences the dynamic created can sometimes be difficult to shake. There is no better cure for this other than repeated exposure. If you experience more interviews that create different experiences this will help to ‘unlearn’ what you have previously gone through. This is how interviews can be of benefit, even if you are not selected. The adrenaline and intensity of the day will help you learn and furthermore repeated exposure to this will de-sensitise you to it. We can aid you in this by conducting a video-recorded mock interview. Not only does this help recreate the conditions on the day, but it does so to a degree that hopefully won’t overwhelm you. Furthermore, you will have a better overview of how you are coming across to the interview board.
Performance may not be a word you are comfortable hearing, but in order to achieve what we want, discomfort is often a good sign. It signifies change and lets you know that you are growing and challenging yourself to be better. If we follow this path long enough, the performance will take care of itself.
As a professional coach, mentor and facilitator Ciaran has a passionate interest in developing competencies at all workplace levels but particularly in first-line and mid-level managers. His well-developed skills in coaching and his unique approach gains the confidence of clients and supports them towards significant development.