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The Art of Interviewing

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Anyone who has been on multiple job interviews will tell you that they are often anxiety provoking. Whether you love the job or hate it, you want the interview to go well and you want the employer to offer you the job (even if you decide you do not want the job). After all, we all want to be valued, appreciated, and wanted. The reality is you have to risk rejection if you want a competitive job. So how do you put yourself out there, get rejected, and still go on with confidence?

There are many helpful resources when it comes to interviewing tips and skills. Some are better than others. Instead of suggesting specific resources, I have chosen to list a few here for your consideration. In my professional experience talking with many people in similar situations (as well as in my personal experience), one of the largest barriers I have come across to having a successful interview is when you have set the wrong goal for the interview. If your goal is to “get the job,” you can easily become your own barrier to getting a job offer.

The Benefit of paradoxical goals: Some people perform best when they are under a lot of pressure. If that is you, feel free to disregard this suggestion. If, on the other hand, you perform best when you are relaxed, I would highly suggest that you develop a seemingly paradoxical goal. Don’t make “getting the job” your goal. This can be difficult because “obviously I want the job, why else would I be applying?” The fact is you are more likely to be yourself when you are more relaxed. Being anxious makes you behave differently, and this can make a poor first impression. Removing the pressure of “getting the job” can make you more relaxed, hence allow you to be more like yourself, and therefore make a better first impression. Instead, make your goal something that is within your control (to connect with the interviewers, show the interviewers that you are honest, or make them smile). I have heard countless times from people that the more they needed the job, the poorer they did on the interview. Not only does can this make you anxious in an interview, it can also seem like desperation. Desperation becomes obvious. And people do not want to hire a desperate candidate; they want to hire a strong candidate. So do yourself a favor and take some of the pressure off yourself. It will be better for all involved.

Another problem with feeling anxious about “getting the job” is that you can be too narrowly focused on what you think it takes to impress the interviewers. Many people prepare so much for the questions they think they will be asked in an interview that they completely miss the other parts of the interview.

The Hidden Interview: If I ask someone who they were interviewed by, most likely they will tell me the names of the people who were asking them questions in “the interview”. Usually people list the hiring manager, the HR personnel, the partners, etc. The reality is you were interviewed by every person you came in contact with at that firm/organization. While some organizations rely more heavily on the questions asked in the formal interview, many rely almost as heavily on the feedback that comes from the people you meet before and after your interview. Whether that is the support staff, paralegals, other associates, cleaning personnel, you name it, the impression you are trying to make should apply across the board. In my previous role as a manager, I interviewed many qualified candidates that made a good impression on me in an interview, only to reject them as candidates after hearing from my administrative assistance that the candidate was rude to her. You can tell a lot about a candidate from the way they behave when they think “no one is looking”. Remember to make a positive impression across the board, because not only can another employee be a negative endorsement for your application, they can also be a positive one. And in the world of influence, if a stranger gives you a positive endorsement it is seen as carrying more weight than if a friend does (they have no hidden agenda).

So remember to:

  • take some of the pressure off by revising your goals
  • make your goal something you literally have control over
  • try to make a positive impression on everyone you encounter
  • and be yourself

That’s not only good advice for a job interview, its good advice for life.


Shawn Healy, PhD




CATEGORIES: Career & Practice Concerns

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