Interviews can be very intimidating. It may seem daunting to have to sit with a complete stranger and have a fluid, coherent conversation while being your “best-self” for 45 minutes. So, how do you make this less uncomfortable? You make it routine!
I don’t really like to socialize, so I knew the interview process was going to be difficult for me. However, like I emphasis in everything I teach, anything can be overcome if you recognize what you need to accomplish and create a plan to get it done. I came up with a strategy to prep for the interviews and executed it: I made it a habit to talk to one random stranger for a half an hour everyday. Yes, this was extremely uncomfortable at first, but that was the point—to desensitize myself to awkward conversations. I’d pick out someone who was alone, ask if I could speak with them for a bit, and then I’d just try to sustain a conversation for as long as I could.
Be like a “wedding crasher!” Everyone’s seen the movie, and if you haven’t, step your game up and invest in a Netflix account today. I’m pretty sure you can write it off on your taxes as “interview prep” (consult with your local accountant on that).
When I tried to talk to these strangers, sure, some people ran for the hills. Hey, I also might spaz out if some guy came up to me and asked if he could talk to me for no reason. As nerve-racking as it was to do this, it became routine after a couple of months. The anxiety disappeared and holding a conversation became as mundane as brushing my teeth. When I finally got to my interviews, I could rap with the best of them and I was able to put the interviewers at ease with my calm demeanor.
One last piece of advice on this: make sure you talk to non-peers as well. We all know how much harder it is to carry on a conversation with that one weird uncle than it is to talk with our cousin who’s the same age. Step out of your comfort zone.
Dr. Andre Pinesett, a Stanford Medical School graduate, is best known by his moniker “The Pre-med Productivity Expert.” He is an award-winning educator, highly sought-after speaker, and noted authority on pre-med personal and professional development. He has helped high school, college and graduate students improve their academic performance, while reducing their work time, allowing them to maximize their potential and ultimately achieve their dreams.