Tennis star Novak Djokovic faced a tough challenge at Wimbledon this year. He was on a run of three consecutive defeats in Grand Slam finals. This was the year to prove the doubters wrong – or so it seemed when he took a two sets to one lead over Roger Federer, serving for the Championship with a set point and 5-2 up in the fourth set. Within the space of 30 minutes, he had lost the next 6 games in a row and a sporting sensation was brewing. With his confidence rocking, Novak suddenly held his nerve to come back again to win his seventh Grand Slam title.
You know that moment when things don’t go according to plan in the middle of a job interview? Here are 7 job interview tips from Novak’s performance to help you get back on track:
Don’t look back in anger
It’s easy to get thrown by a difficult question, to forget an important fact or miss an opportunity to give a great example of your brilliance. The danger is dwelling on it for too long or losing it completely and letting that affect your performance going forward. “You cannot be serious!!” ( J. McEnroe) is not an option. Take positive action to overcome any negativity you are feeling. Here’s how:
Focus on the next point
Turn your stumble into a forward stride. Positive psychology works best when you stay in the moment. Our emotions are drawn to what we decide to focus on. That means listening with intent to what you are now being asked by the interviewer. It may be a question you feel really comfortable answering, so second that emotion.
Dictate the play
The worst job interviews can feel like an interrogation. The interviewer is working off a script and won’t deviate. Try turning the interaction into a dialogue and more of a conversation. Ask a clarification question to interrupt the constant flow of baseline shots (my turn, your turn). Reflect back a fact from your research about the company and pose a question, for example, about the direction or the culture of the business. The more natural the discussion, the better the rapport you build.
Use adversity as a motivator
I had mental obstacles to overcome and challenges to face in order to reach that level… that is the best quality tennis I have played in a Grand Slam final – Novak Djokovic.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going – Billy Ocean
Think service recovery
Research shows that we are likely to tell more people about a bad customer experience than a good one. However, if say a restaurant or shop does something to make amends that goes beyond the value we would have received in the first place (like a year’s supply of chocolate!), we are more likely to return to do business again. They have recovered the service. How can you recover your ‘service’ in a job interview? By adding more value.
Recover your ground quickly
Tennis players stretch themselves to their physical extremes on court. Sometimes they are out of position, other times they are wrong footed by the other player. Anticipation becomes a tool in your kitbag so you can recover your ground. Just don’t get ahead of yourself! Here’s what helps:
Put the practice in now
You can prepare all you like for a job interview or a tennis match, and it’s an essential ingredient for success. However, you will still have to be quick witted and think on your feet because you cannot control all eventualities. Practice helps. Get someone to throw random questions at you beforehand from all angles (like metaphorical tennis balls).
Tennis and workplace coaching have an interesting history. Check out The Inner Game of Tennis, an influential book by US tennis player Tim Gallwey on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge.
Which lessons resonate with you? How will you get out of your own way to let your best game emerge in your next job interview?