7 steps to acing your job interview

How to practice like a tennis pro to perfect your interview performance

As we tuck into our strawberries and cream, glued to our screens to watch the top seeds play at Wimbledon, it’s all too easy to forget the hours of practice each player has spent in the run up to the big tournament. The likes of Nadal, Murray and Federer make playing tennis look so natural and effortless. It’s only when we remember that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert that we truly appreciate the hard work, discipline and training required. So what lessons can we learn from the tennis pros to help us ace our job interview and walk away with that prize job?


1. Research your opponent

Remember to do your homework and study your opponent on the other side of the net. Research the company you are applying for and use this to ask intelligent questions in the interview. For example, you may have read on-line that they are launching a new product so saying ‘I noticed from your website that you are entering a new market…‘ can help you score extra points and demonstrate your interest in their company. 

2. Get in the ready position

Be ready for the first serve of the match, by which I mean the first question in the interview. It’s often the ‘tell me a bit about yourself’ question and if you aren’t ready for it the danger is that you will say whatever is front of mind that day (“I have 2 kids, haven’t worked for 5 years and this morning I had to take the cat to the vets”). What you need to be doing instead is prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ – a 30 second introduction that summarises who you are, what you do and why they should hire you! 

3. Avoid double faults at all costs!

Make sure you don’t start the interview with double faults by managing your nerves. Here are a couple of top tips to do this: breathe deeply to keep the brain oxygenated, stay hydrated by drinking water (not coffee) and say positive things to yourself. Focus on what you do have to offer, rather than what you don’t.   

4. Keep calm under pressure

During an interview it can sometimes feel as though you’re on the receiving end of a volley of shots from the other side of the net. The secret is to keep calm and not rush to answer every question immediately – pause, if necessary, take a sip of water and give yourself space to think. A short pause may feel like a lifetime, but it gives you a much better chance of responding strongly with your best shot.

5. Keep the ball in court

When you’re selling yourself at an interview it’s essential to stay on topic. A good way of preparing for this is to match what you are saying to the needs the employer has articulated in the job advert. Think of the skills and attributes that suit the role you are applying for and ensure you articulate them clearly throughout the interview. 

6. Build each shot to your advantage

When giving answers to competency based questions (the ones such as “give me an example when you have successfully managed a project…”) think of it like a tennis shot. You need to pull the racket back, take the shot and have a smooth follow through. Structure your answer like this: Give a brief overview of the situation, describe succinctly what you did and the skills you used and thirdly explain the results achieved. 

7. Visualise success!

The most successful Wimbledon players imagine hitting the winning ball and lifting the trophy.  So my top tip is to visualise yourself answering questions confidently, showing your passion and demonstrating what a good match you are for the role.

I hope these seven steps to acing your job interview will leave you feeling buoyed and confident as you try to secure your dream job.  My final piece of advice is to remember the one trait that all successful champions share – resilience.  You may get some “no’s” along the way but don’t let that put you off your game. Instead pick yourself up and stay positive, as Andy Murray can confirm when he won Wimbledon last year – success was all the sweeter after years of being knocked out in the semi-finals!

All tennis pros know how valuable a coach is to perfect performance, if you would like to discuss how career and confidence coaching can help your interview preparation, please contact Fiona on fiona@inspiredmums.co.uk or 07789 597209.



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