First Job: Interview - Confidence (5) (找工)
In last part of this article, I started to talk about soft things which affect confidence. I talked about why the feeling of being inferior is a big enemy of confidence.
Another enemy of confidence is the belief in discrimination. This belief is a poison which ruins our body and soul and spirit. The moment you feel the interviewer is being difficult on purpose, he becomes your enemy. You'd get nervous, upset, defensive and hostile. And the interview would turn into a battle. You're unlikely to win an interview if it's a battle.
Lots of us believe that discrimination is deep and widespread. Not long ago, someone posted on Rolia about a failed interview. He specifically mentioned that the interviewer is an Eastern European. He seemed to suggest that the guy was unfriendly and asked hard questions on purpose. Many Rolians echoed his sentiment, saying that Eastern Europeans somehow are hostile toward Chinese.
I strongly disagree. In my experience, discrimination is not a big issue. It's even less an issue for technology positions. If you're really good, they'd respect you, whether they're Eastern Europeans, or Indians, or native whites. Most of the people who interviewed me over the years are whites and Indians. I never felt any hostility due to race. I got offers from almost all of the interviews.
Another enemy of confidence is nervousness. It's hard not to be nervous when you're being examined and interrogated. However, there're ways to relieve the stress.
In the movie "Harry Porter", there's a spell called "riddikulus" which a wizard uses to turn a frightening boggart into something funny in order to defeat it. When the boggart, in the body of a feared professor, walked menacingly toward a boy, he was frozen at first but then pointed his wand at the professor and chanted "riddikulus". Suddenly, the professor's dress turned into his grandma's. And the professor changed from terrifying into laughable.
This is the kind of method we can use to defeat our nervousness. One reason why we're nervous in front of other people is that we idolize them instead of seeing them as a human being. When I first came to Canada, I was nervous even in front of a receptionist. Now I'm not even afraid of a Wall St Managing Director. Instead of seeing him as a symbol of power, I see a father who loves his kids, a subordinate who's being pressured by his boss, a manager who's unsure about what to do, a husband who's afraid of his wife, a sports junkie who yells at his TV, a classic music fanatic who has to listen to Beethoven every day, or a regular human being with many weaknesses or even stupidities.
Recently I saw a very plain looking contestant in Hunan Satellite TV's singing show "Beat the Mike". To my surprise, he turned out to be a high school principal. I guess it's normal if his students are intimidated by him. But they're probably not intimidated any more after watching him in "Beat the Mike" - the show turns their principal into a human.
Another way to relieve nervousness is to laugh or smile. A proper joke could instantly lighten up the air as well as our nerves and muscles. When I prepare for interview, I would think about humorous ways to reply to questions. I also watch out for chances of an instantaneous joke during the interview. Experienced interviewers often crack jokes to relieve the interviewee's stress. Some of us, however, may not appreciate the joke or worse, take it as offensive. A while ago, a lot of people on Rolia said an interviewer is racist when he asked if a candidate is Chinese. I bet he's only trying to get the candidate relaxed. Instead of getting upset, the candidate should use the opportunity for some small talk about China to warm up to the actual interview.