Poker is an exciting game, but it takes a huge amount of skill, practice, intuition, and concentration. Ultimately, poker requires you to keep a level head in a fairly stressful and nerve-racking situation. Most people avoid stressful situations at all costs, but the majority of us will at some point in our lives have to face a job interview or two.
Interviews can be incredibly unnerving, especially when your dream job is on the line. So what can we learn from pro poker players about how to stay cool, calm, and collected in a tense situation when our pulse is racing and our palms are starting to sweat? These poker tips can help us prepare like the pros and maximise our chance of leaving an interview with all the chips and a big win with the job of our dreams in the bag:
Start Easy and Practice
Even the best poker pros will have started off somewhere, and you’re unlikely to succeed by just jumping straight in at the deep end – especially with a high-stake game like poker. Poker players will practise in a low-pressure environment, with low stakes or even fake money, until they feel confident in their game.
The same applies when it comes to developing the confidence you need to succeed in an interview for your dream job. Attend as many interviews as you can – even if you don’t intend on taking the job – as this will help you practise in a more relaxed environment and allow you to hone your skills without too much pressure. As they say, practice makes perfect, and when you get to that final interview, you want the interviewer to think you’re perfect for the job.
Rehearse Your Moves
Players will pick up on every move you make in poker, from the way you hold your cards to the way you move your chips, so it’s important to rehearse your moves before becoming embroiled in a high-stake game with real money on the table. Poker is a lot about intuition and making decisions based on how others play their game, so it’s important you know how you want to come across from the off-set.
It’s no different in an interview situation, as the person interviewing you will make their decision based on a range of different factors, not just the answers you give to their questions. Think about the way you walk into a room, how you are going to introduce yourself to the interviewer, and practise maintaining eye contact. Your first impression can often be a deal breaker in both poker and real-life situations.
Memorise Your Hand
If you’re playing poker with the pros, then you need to be able to memorise your hand – the last thing you want is to have to keep looking back down at your cards every five minutes and disrupt the flow of the game. This will make you look unprepared and less confident in your gameplay.
In an interview, you are likely to be asked a range of different questions, and though you may have written down some notes and provided a CV, the last thing you want is to have to keep going back to them. Try and memorise the subheadings on your CV and some answers to a range of typical interview questions like “tell me about a time you helped improve results at work”. This should help you feel prepared for anything you get asked.
Use Your Poker Face
Your face can tell a lot about the cards you have in your hand and how confident you are about the game you’re playing. A typical poker face gives nothing away – It’s free of emotion and cool as ice, leaving the other players completely clueless as to what your game plan is.
You don’t want to come across as overly keen in your interview, but you also don’t want to seem disinterested or bored. Try and maintain a balanced approach to the job, the interview, and the questions you get asked. You don’t want to show the interviewer how much you really want the job, as it gives them the upper hand and puts you in a weaker position if it comes to negotiation.
Watch for “tells”
All poker pros try and avoid “tells”, as they give other players an insight into what kind of cards the pro may have. Just a slight cough can indicate nerves and lead other players to believe the pro has a weak hand and allow them to take advantage of the situation.
Look out for any “tells” your interviewer might give you – if they look at the clock or down at the floor, then they may be losing interest and you need to react to that and draw them back in. Pay attention to their reactions, and if they look more interested in one topic over another then try and expand on it and keep them engaged.
Staying focussed during a game of poker is key. If you get distracted or unnerved by another player, then you could throw away your whole hand, and subsequently, lose the whole game. You need to concentrate on your cards, focus on the game in front of you, and do your best to win.
The same applies in an interview – concentrate on the job at hand (literally). As long as you have rehearsed, practised, and memorised your answers, then the interview should go fairly smoothly. Every situation is different, but as long as you keep your focus and stay calm, you should leave your interviewer with a good impression of you and hopefully land yourself the job you’ve always wanted.
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