It’s funny how being in a permanent job makes it easy to get out of the ‘jobseeking’ loop. Of course I keep myself abreast of developments in my field and also the latest careers advice because I also write career development articles on this site. But that never-ending cycle of thinking about applications, interviews and potential career moves has, for the time being at least, faded from my life. So I am very excited to get the chance to offer you some interview thoughts straight from the horse’s mouth.
At MMU we have just hired a new medieval historian, Dr Kathryn Hurlock, [hello Kathryn!] and I was chatting to her about her jobseeking and interview experience. Her story will be familiar to many of you, one of constant job applications, attending interviews all round the country and facing the prospect of upheaval and drastic changes in personal routine depending on which job came through. She was saying that her success in our interview process could have been because she gave up before even beginning!
This might sound a bit odd. Almost all interview advice emphasizes the importance of positive thinking. If you imagine yourself in the job then you will be more convincing to your audience. But there is a flip-side to this. Thinking yourself into a job in that way can result in a lot of nerves, you become heavily invested in the outcome: you really really want that job. And so, in some cases, as you become more tense and stressed, the worse your performance becomes.
Perhaps if you believe, as Kathryn did, that you have no chance of getting the job then you might relax and ironically perform better. I am not trying to encourage you to get all pessimistic and gloomy, or worse than that, not to care. Of course you should actively want each job you go for and believe that you have a chance of getting it. But sometimes a little disconnection and realism in a tense interview situation can allow you to be more naturally yourself. And that is what’s most likely to win people over, provided you also know your stuff in terms of research and teaching.
So, have a think about it, and the next time you go to an interview, try to allow your personality to shine through; don’t worry about any silly mistakes or about the competition and relax: it may make the difference for you!