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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

How to Keep Your Cool When You Interview With Your Dream Company

If you’re like most people who have just scored a meeting with their dream company, you’re probably more nervous than you’ve ever been for an interview. And because you want to work there so badly (and because your stomach’s already in knots), you’re pretty sure you’re going to lose your composure during the interview.

Reading that last sentence probably made you take pause and think to yourself, “Well, that sounds pretty self-defeating.” And if that’s what you’re currently thinking to yourself, you’re absolutely right. While there’s no understating the pressure you’re feeling about getting this job with this company, there are a few things you should remind yourself of before you get any further in your interview prep.

It Might Be Your Dream Company, But the Employees There Are Human, Too

Even if the company is so awesome that it’s singlehandedly figured out how to make clothes that repair themselves when they rip—then turns around and donates 95% of its proceeds to people in need—take a minute to remember that the people you’ll be meeting with are human beings, just like you. Once you’ve reminded yourself the hiring manager’s human, you’ll be able to put a few things into perspective. And what you’ll realize is that your interviewers have a good deal of pressure on their shoulders too.

As much as you want to work for them, they’re also really hoping you’re the one. Companies don’t just open up roles because they had some extra money in the budget and figured, hey, let’s hire a few extra people. They open up roles because there’s a need—and often times those needs are pretty urgent. So, as cliché as it might be to say that the interview is just as much for you as it is for the company, treating it this way is a really nice trick to help you stay composed during your interview.

There’s Only So Much You Can Control

You have control over a few things before any interview. You can take the time to figure out how long it’ll take to get to the office from where you are. You can pick out and iron your outfit a few days before. You can even run countless Google searches to see what kinds of questions you should expect from the company.

However, it’s worth re-emphasizing as nicely as possible that you can only control so much.

For starters, I’ve never been on an interview where my Google searches for questions certain companies “commonly” ask have been totally accurate. And even in the instances in which I felt “prepared,” there have always been a couple of curveballs. Recruiters are busy—sometimes too busy—but they’re sharp. And plenty of candidates have gone into interviews with the sole purpose of selling themselves to the hiring manager without actually answering their questions.

So, they come up with little caveats to throw you off your game a little bit. When I’ve been faced with these tricky situations—maybe a question I wasn’t expecting or a difficult take-home assignment—I actually started sweating. But, I forged ahead and did the best I could. And that’s all anyone could ask of you, even when a dream job at your dream company is on the line.

You Have Questions and Need Answers, Too

So, here’s the thing. Plenty of great candidates have accepted jobs at what they thought were their dream companies, only to find out that it wasn’t quite as awesome as they thought. And it’s hard to think about that when you’re so caught up with how amazing that self-repairing sweater they sold to you feels.

However, the night before you begin that interview with Dream Company USA, take a few minutes to think about the actual gig you’re interviewing for. Is it something that you’re not really that interested in, but are way more comfortable with because it’s with that company? If it is, don’t forget that just because a company is reinventing the way you go about repairing your clothes (and don’t forget all the money it’s donating), that doesn’t mean the job itself is right for you.

In more practical terms, you can think of it this way: If you’re looking to break into marketing, the road to that kind of role might be a little trickier if you take a job in accounting, even though it’s at Dream Company USA. So, even though you’re super excited to just be visiting the offices, be aware that you’re going to be caught up in it—at least for a minute—but then reevaluate the gig you’re interviewing for to see if it’s something you’re even remotely interested in.

Don’t feel the need to settle for a job you know you’re not going to like just because it’s at Dream Company USA. While it might be hard to think about why you wouldn’t go to work there, don’t let how awesome the place is diminish how much of a priority your happiness is in this process, too.

Photo of woman jumping courtesy of Shutterstock.