Interview with confidence: a narrative approach

Interview with confidence: a narrative approach

There’s nothing quite like saying to someone else that they should employ you. Despite knowing that those on the other side of the desk need and want to employ someone, so this knowledge can be of limited help.

As someone who has both succeeded at (and failed) in interviews as well as coached those who have been similarly elated and disappointed, I want to share some thoughts on the role of narrative in creating interview confidence.

A coherent narrative

It has to make sense that you’re there. Constructing a coherent personal and professional narrative; spending time telling a story that encompasses your past, present and future can enable an interviewer to make sense of why you’re in their office. Whether a job represents an opportunity you’ve been building towards over time or a completely new departure as in a career change, a strong narrative can be highly persuasive.

A weak narrative creates doubt in both the interviewee and interviewer. For the interviewee, it can for example, result in answers to interview questions that lack any depth. For the interviewer, it can lead them to conclude that the person wants a job – any job – and that they are simply a means to someone else’s ends.

Prepare well and share your narrative

Prior to gaining my current role in Higher Education, I had failed two interviews for the same post. Unwilling to go through rejection again I sought coaching. In my first coaching session, my coach let me say my piece and then offered the following feedback: I had not explained why I wanted to work in Higher Education or described any steps I had taken that link to the sector. The ridiculous thing was that I did know why and had taken some appropriate steps – it’s just that these details were absent from my narrative.

Narrative and beliefs

‘I have a right to a job.’ These words were uttered to me by a student at my university in a coaching session shortly after he had failed his seventh interview. Understandably his confidence was low, but what also emerged in our coaching was a simmering anger. Further exploration revealed that the student felt he had done everything right to gain graduate employment. He had gained a 1st Class degree in a relevant subject and built a varied C.V. that included volunteering, a student placement and an effective social media profile. And yet he was not being successful.

In our coaching he realised that he was interviewing in the belief that he had a right to a job – an arrogant position that had clearly irritated seven employers. His narrative, which reflected aspects of his upbringing, was that he was special.

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety affects the best of us, however, in my experience too much attention is given to dealing with its symptoms on interview day itself. The thrust of this article is that performance anxiety is often the result of a weak narrative. Construct a coherent one and interview with confidence.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 1SD
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Written by Mark Evans, Conversations With Impact EMCC Accredited Coach
Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 1SD

I work as a therapist and coach in business, higher education and private practice. I am interested in how people change even in the most difficult of circumstances.

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