The Interview – Critical and Seldom Practiced

The Job Interview is critical – its importance cannot be underestimated. It can be the reason you are offered a job, or not. It is also something we don’t practice much, a combination that almost guarantees nervousness. Just thinking about going through with an interview can cause anxiety. However, there are ways you can prepare for it, find ways to control your nervousness, and be the best you can be. I want to be clear that everyone is nervous during an interview. If you weren’t, you would not be human. But if you are too nervous you will come across as lacking confidence, being inarticulate, etc. All count against you on in the interview and on the job.

So what to do? The key is good preparation. Include some career success stories that you can tell in a concise and compelling manner. Practice them. Be able to talk authentically about your strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses are the hardest for most people and you will always be asked about when things went wrong, what you are not good at, etc. You will always get these questions, I promise, so better to prepare for them now rather than later. Your answers must be truthful and include a “real” weakness. Your biggest weakness is not “loyalty” or “working too hard,” and the interviewer knows it. Identify a real weakness, describe how it hinders your performance, AND what you do to mitigate the impact of the weakness on the job. A personal example: I was told that I reacted too quickly to situations, resulting in poor decisions and complications. So I mitigated this weakness by always pausing before making a decisions. Pausing made my decisions better and improved my performance.

Practice your success stories, strengths and weaknesses so you can use them in the interview without too much thinking. This frees up your brain to focus on other things like body language, verbal ticks, unexpected questions, and how to be the best you can be. I wish I could tell you to “just be yourself” but that may not be appropriate. Almost all of us have many different personas that we use depending on the circumstances. Think of it as turning a dial on a radio (imagine first a radio with a dial). Pick the right station for the circumstances. This involves paying attention and listening to the interviewers, and figuring out if they are super serious, scripted, improvisational, light-hearted, friendly, standoffish, etc. Pick the version of you that will work best. To be clear, I am not telling you to not be yourself, just be the right self. Figuring out the interviewer is much easier if you ask questions and listen closely to the answers.

In closing – prepare and do your best. You will “click” with some people and not with others. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, there will be others. If you are considering or engaged in a job search and need help with interview preparation please contact us at We offer free initial consultations that will help you understand the job search process in greater detail.

By: Bryan Dennis, Career Solutions Group