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Communication

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Frozen At Job Interviews: The Inevitable Anxiety Spiral

Many of us get stuck or frozen at job interviews, even though we have practised long and hard for handling all sorts of questions. This is due to the anxiety spiral that we get caught in, putting pressure on ourselves.

Some stress and anxiety are inevitable in any interview, something that will ‘knock-off’ about 25 per cent of our preparations. We need to over-prepare to balance the odds, practising hard for the tough questions that push us into the anxiety spiral.

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Communication

Before going to an interview, ask for unbiased feedback from your mentors, peers, family members and friends, just to gain some clarity. We usually would miss those true negative aspects due to our skewed state of mind.

An outside perspective shines a light on our hidden mistakes and the competencies and attitudes that we need to highlight. It helps to be honest about our fears and note down the feedback, working on your ‘interview performance’ later.

It helps to self-conduct mock interviews and practice the tough questions, especially the initial words you may have to blurt out while you frame your real answer:

“That’s a great question, and I haven’t dealt with that exact situation yet. Could you elaborate a bit so that I can take a minute to flesh out my strategy in this scenario?”

Keeping your tone open, confident and curious helps in this tightrope walking of difficult questions. Saying ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t help anymore.

Many of us have the habit of endlessly brooding over negative events after they occur, subjecting ourselves to hard self-criticism. Many people who are perfectionist also amplify small things that go wrong. One needs to recognize and manage such behaviour by breathing exercises or practising hard to reduce anxiety.

One can try being honest and provide creative answers to the questions using their past experiences, both personal and professional. It doesn’t have to be scripted all the time.

We Use Email The Wrong Way

Email is essential in a workplace and yet can suck our productivity in a uniquely annoying way. On an average workday, we check our email 15 times, which leads to wasted time and distractions.

Email isn’t even the best way a person can communicate, as it does not provide the recipient with our intended tone, intentions and purpose in an exact way.

Human nature tends to conform to the majority and leans towards safety in numbers. Adopted practices (like email) become the default even when they are not the best solution because everyone else is on it.

Work is done more effectively with in-person or virtual meetings, while instant messengers are less formal and more intuitive while being easy to check.

Email has real value in communicating the following:

  1. A formal communication decision.
  2. Confirming or scheduling appointments with the help of Calendar.
  3. Documenting important conversations.
  4. Company-wide announcements that are high-impact and need to be communicated to all in real-time.
  • Email is best used for clear, unambiguous communication that is important and may be shared with others.
  • If something is super-urgent or requires a lot of explaining, picking up the phone is the way to go.
  • When we require emotion or the issue is complex, a face-to-face meeting is the best bet.
  • For non-critical queries that anyone can answer, a slack message does the job.
Social Intelligence

American psychologist Edward Thorndike defines social intelligence as ‘the ability to understand people and act wisely in human relations.’ These skills can be acquired with practice.

Some people can sense how other people feel and what to say in social gatherings. These confident, caring people seem to have people skills, but in fact, what they have is social intelligence.

  1. Active Listening Skills: People with social intelligence pay genuine attention to what the other person is saying. They make the other person feel understood and connected.
  2. Conversational Skills: Socially intelligent people are tactful, humourous, sincere, meaningful and appropriate in their conversations.
  3. Managing Reputation: The people are able to balance authenticity with a thoughtful reputation.
  4. No Arguing: People with social skills understand that arguing has no return on investment, and making the other person feel bad while proving something isn’t going to be of any benefit whatsoever.
  1. Be observant and watch how people interact with others.
  2. Try to increase emotional intelligence recognizing your feelings and emotions as well as of others.
  3. Try to recognize negative feelings like jealousy, anger and envy in social situations.
  4. Respect cultural diversity and understand that other people might have different customs and mindsets.
  5. Do not interrupt and practice hyper listening skills.
  6. Truly love your loved ones and appreciate people who are important in your life.
  7. Study social situations and pay attention to what people are doing, good or bad.
Remote work and the lack of context around communication

Virtual communication often lacks the nonverbal clues we notice with in-person conversations.

To compensate, we often make assumptions or jump to conclusions that can cause harm to our work relationships.

Instead of acting on your assumptions, go to the facts. Understanding the individual styles of employees can also give interactions more context and help avoid misunderstandings.

  • Prioristizers are logical, analytical, and data-oriented people who focus on goals and outcomes. They don't like to engage in chitchat.
  • Planners thrive with structure, planning, and talking about the details. They often communicate in bullet points and numbers.
  • Arrangers are supportive, relationship-driven team members who work best when they form connections.
  • Visualizers are big-picture thinkers who want minimal details. They will often email at the last minute, and apologize for short deadlines.

To avoid unnecessary conflict, it is essential to understand the nuances of colleagues and how they work.

Accept that others may not work and communicate the same way you do. If you see someone looking to the side during a video conference, instead of thinking they are not paying attention, understand that they may really be taking notes. Another person may want to spend time on a connection before they engage with the content.

Quirky Interview Questions

Most of us prepare in advance for the usual questions at an interview, which may not be very creative (“Name three of your biggest weaknesses?”). Some crazy questions can take us by surprise, like:

  • What flavour of icecream do you see yourself as?
  • How many pencils would fit inside this room?

These questions test our presence of mind, creativity, poise and preparedness for the unexpected.

Recruiters and hiring managers are going increasingly offbeat and testing the agility of the employees due to the unusual demands of the modern corporate office.

If oddball questions are thrown at you, which they will be, you need to respond with ease, not getting fluxed or stunned. Take it as a game and use your presence of mind.

One should not comment on the wackiness of the unexpected interview question. Stay relaxed and don’t show a nervous body language. Keeping your cool is part of the answer.

You can take a deep breath and pause, collecting your thoughts. Be comfortable with this game and do not ask for feedback, as it can give away your composure.

  • A wild question does not mean an equally wild answer.
  • You can utilize this free hit to showcase your authenticity, morals and values.
  • You can show concern regarding the safety and well-being of your team members, or the fact that you are a team-player by weaving that into the answer.
  • Your answer should reflect that you would be an asset to any company.

Example: If asked what kind of tree you would like to be, you can answer that you would be like a leader, a large oak tree, or like an apple tree, being useful and beautiful at the same time.

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