I'm struggling with self doubt. Should I cancel my interview?
I have an interview for a position which is a step up from my current role into being a senior Manager at a small company. I'm struggling with self-doubt about my ability to do the job itself. I don't even feel I can prepare well for the interview. Should I cancel?
You don’t say whether the interview is in your existing workplace or a new one for you. Either way, I would encourage you not to cancel. Every interview will teach you something useful and the experience will stand you in good stead – even if you don’t get this particular job.
First thought – calling you for interview means the company have seen something in you that they want. Recruitment is a long and demanding process for everyone, so managers don’t waste time meeting people who have no hope of success.
Second thought – a new job is sure to be a step up, otherwise you’d stay where you are. So I’d be concerned if you didn’t have doubts, since you are sure to be challenged and it will inevitably be demanding. So if you get the job, expect a good year of hard work as you get to grips with what is expected. As long as you are prepared to bite the bullet on this and give it your all, it will be do-able.
There are many reasons why it’s scary to go after a new job. You might find this research encouraging. It shows that lots of people believe they won’t get through the recruitment process. Others – and in particular women – hold back through fear of failure. In your case, you already have the interview, so you have got through that first hurdle, which is brilliant.
In terms of preparation, there are two areas to consider: what you want them to know about you; and what you want to know about them. Remember, an interview is always a two way process.
What you want them to know about you:
This is where you need to get deeply honest with yourself. I’m sure you’re brilliant at outlining your shortcomings. Now I want you to be just as amazing in talking about your strengths and skills. Make a list yourself, then ask honest friends and colleagues to add to it. You will probably need to practice speaking out about how good you are – talk to the mirror and anyone who will listen so you’re used to saying the positives before you go.
You do need to be ready to talk about your shortcomings, but please don’t blow this out of proportion! I met one woman who was told after an interview in her existing workplace: ‘We know you could do this job really well, but you didn’t give us anything to work with.’ She believed she was just being honest about what she didn’t do well; they never heard what she was really good at!
Think about the job and what you would want to do in the short and long term. How would you use your particular ability and skills to improve the outputs from your team and the business as a whole. Be brave here – as a senior manager, you’ll have a greater chance to make a difference and they’ll be interested to hear how you might do that.
Then there’s the question of you interviewing them:
At some point, they will ask you what you want to know. So be ready for that - think about:
- The sort of workplace you need in order to do your best work – be specific about the different factors that affect your ability to work well.
- What you want from a relationship with your manager. Think about the questions that will give you the information you need.
- Think about the physical conditions that make it easier to do your job eg own office or open plan, technology, closeness to colleagues etc.
There will be other elements that are important to you, so make a list of them all. Decide the ones that are most important to check out at the start and write them down so you don’t forget in the moment.
I would also recommend that you ask for a 1-1 conversation with the person who would manage you to make sure you will get on together. Also to meet your team for a coffee, so you can get a feel for the dynamics. You can find out more about these aspects of recruitment and other great management ideas in my book Inspirational Manager
I really hope you’ll give it a go. You are clearly ready for a next step or you wouldn’t have made the effort to get an interview. So change your focus and go in with curiosity about these people, what they want and whether you might like to work with them.
And if you find you don’t want it or they don’t want you, take the learning from it. In my experience, the things I grieved deeply at the time would generally have been a disaster! In the words of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: “Everything will be alright in the end. So if it is not alright yet, that’s because it’s not yet the end.”
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