How to believe in yourself – facing a job interview

You may have seen our recent posts and you may have noticed our emphasis on all the stuff of academia that can scare the hell out of us – failing, how to get a good job, how to prepare for it and so on. For example have a look at Sarah’s posts on academic failure and on the Top 7 tips from the Book “The Professor is in” by Karen Kelsky.

Caused by a recent job interview I was invited to (yay!), I had a lot of preparation work to do the last few weeks. One thing is that for even getting an invitation to a job interview, your CV must be outstanding. So, I cannot provide you with any helping tips for that, because you have to do that work all by yourself to get really good lines in your CV. You have to present your records and documents in a very professional way and there are a lot of really good advices – e.g. in the cited book of Karen Kelsky. I followed some of her advices and I had a course on applying for jobs in academia at my university – and I learned a lot. As one part of this course I had my documents professionally checked. And when I stumbled across this announcement for a job in academia – and in Archaeology – I just got it that it is about time. It is about time that the leopard changes his spots. So – well, I just did it. I sent my documents and waited.

When the invitation arrived, I was so happy, I really started crying. It was my first application I sent out into the unknown and I got invited! Next thing I knew was that I started panicking about this success. But, there are some very important people in my life who are used to calm me down when they see me overreacting – and they were successful once again.

I talked with my parents, with my love, my best friends and trusted colleagues about that chance – there was never ever the question wether to take it or not. I am in need of a job and I am in need of valued experience – and that job could give me all that.

So, where to begin?

1. Stalking.
Google everything you can about that job – the people working there, the building, the history, the publications, everything that comes to your mind. I ended up with a pile of notes on the potential future colleagues, containing their CVs, their publication lists, their area of expertise. In the end, I actually knew those things by heart.

2. Reading.
Well, I had the publication list of my potential future boss, so I looked for the most recent articles and the PhD thesis as well as the habilitation (the second major book project). I scanned through them, getting a feeling of the work behind it – and the person. Where are the main interests? What are the big questions in the research?

3. Practicing.
I admit it. I put on my job interview clothes, stood in front of my mirror and talked to myself. I looked up the most important questions from job interviewers and thought about my answers. I built myself a script of phrases, connected to certain catchphrases. I began to see my job interview like a theatre play. It is all about performance. This does not mean that you should exaggerate. You have to show yourself from your very best side. You have to show your full potential.

4. What if -?
What if I don’t get the job? What will happen to me? I handled this thought like one of my questions and tried to answer it with a bright smile to myself in the mirror. And yes,  this is me, being totally crazy, but hey, it helped! As soon as my brain ran into that direction of “what if-“, I was able to calm myself with my practiced sentences in my mind.

5. It is okay to be afraid of your own suceess. But you deserved it.
Well, this happens. Everything is just so good and suddenly you find yourself questioning everything – imposter syndrome at its finest. It took all my strength to stay calm. I talked a lot with some friends about that. And they all admitted that they sometimes feel the same. And knowing this helped a lot. But we deserve all that, because we worked hard for it and we are very capeable of the things we use to do for a living. We all have come very far. This may be impressive, especially when there is never ever the time to sit and reflect on these wonderful things.

I felt really good and I went to that job interview. And guess what – it was really good. I was able to speak about my wishes, my ideas. I could answer all the questions with a smile and I felt comfortable and calm all the time. I just knew that I was prepared the best way possible.

And in the end…

… they offered the job to me. And I accepted. So – very soon there will be new adventures.

Shoutout to all of you – you can do it! And you will do it!

Take care! —- Astrid 🙂


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