“When I get to the interview, my brain just goes blank.  What can I do?”

This is one of the most common issues we hear in Alumni Career Services. While at Darden, you were most likely interviewing and networking with more regularity than you are now. As alums, it is not unusual to go many years without an interview, so feeling nervous and unprepared is quite normal. There are both tactical and strategic things you can do to increase your interviewing confidence.

One of the more energizing ways to gain confidence is to do a two-minute power pose before your next job interview (in your car or in the bathroom). Of course, you are wondering, “What in the world is a power pose?” Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy conducted extensive social science research on how to “fake it until you become it” and then unveiled her research in 2012 in the second most popular TED talk (33+ million views) of all time. She explains how body language affects how others perceive us, but also how our own body language affects our personal testosterone and cortisol levels, thereby affecting our performance. She has discovered that doing a two-minute power pose before something stressful like a job interview can lead to much better results. Watch the video to see exactly the pose you need to make and then find a quiet place before your next interview to do this power pose to increase your confidence.

Of course, doing a power pose doesn’t solve the problem of what to talk about once the interview begins. We find that having seven to nine prepared stories in your arsenal makes a huge difference in being able to answer most behavioral interview questions. To come up with the stories, you can use the STAR chart. Try to pick stories across a range of your professional experience, though concentrate most of them around your most recent positions. In addition, when you are filling out the STAR chart, remember that the interviewer is most interested in your analysis and results and less interested in the situation and task. The chart already has six categories built in, but we recommend adding two or three more based on the job description for which you are interviewing.

In addition to the STAR chart, it’s also very helpful to go over common interview questions. Glassdoor published a good list recently of the top 50 most common interview questions.

After you get your STAR chart ready, your confidence will continue to grow if you can do a few mock interviews prior to the big day. The coaches in Alumni Career Services are always willing to do a mock interview and your former Darden classmates are also incredibly rich resources for preparation.

Approach the mock interviews like a real interview as much as you can so that you can identify areas of improvement. Generally, two or three 45-minute mock interviews will be enough to help you practice your stories, increase your confidence and tweak anything that needs fine tuning.

As always, we are here in Alumni Career Services to help you be successful. Please feel free to contact us to set up a one on one coaching session, and review our job search toolkit for templates, tools and advice on approaching your next search.