Job Interviews


I recently underwent a job interview. It was another internal position at my current ‘day job’. I thought I was going to be successful, after the hours spent preparing for it. Plus the fact that it was a lesser role than the one I anticipated stepping away from, and the 3 interview panel members – who I knew – were pleased that I had applied.

Unfortunately my nerves did get the better of me on the day. I ran from another situation to the interview. Time constraints didn’t allow me to pause and collect my thoughts.

But the real problem behind my lack of success was the fact that I went in there with my cup ½ empty. I wanted the job too much. I had set myself up not to fail. By putting so much pressure on myself I was unsuccessful in securing the position anyway. I was also caught up with guilt about the possibility of leaving my current position and the fact that I would be letting down people I cared about in the process.

I asked the Hiring Manager for feedback once I learned that I wasn’t successful. Here are the ‘dos and don’ts’ of interviewing that I learned from the experience:

  1. Don’t over prepare. It’s not an exam.

An interview is not as straightforward a process as an exam or test; it is a more holistic experience. I spent 5 hours on the application for this job, and about the same preparing for the interview. In hindsight I should have spent some of that preparation time relaxing/doing things that I enjoy! Putting so much in doesn’t necessarily translate into getting the desired results.

Some of that preparation time spent working on my interview technique and de-stressing techniques would also have been more beneficial, instead of straightforward Q&A type preparation.

  1. Talk about yourself to someone who knows you well beforehand.

Thanks to my colleague Jess for this one! She prepares for an interview by visiting her mum and having a conversation around what she does for a living. It is hard sometimes to quantify what we do day-to-day in our workplace. Noting what comes up in this very subjective situation of a mother/daughter chat may be helpful when you are in the objective environment of the interview room.

  1. Be present; bring all of you into the interview room.

I tried to leave my vulnerability at the door and just bring in the grown up. It’s ok to show your vulnerability. People expect you to be a little nervous. And they will empathise. It shows that you care about the process. We have all been there before!

4. Timing of your interview.

Try not to go to an interview at the end of a busy week, or when you know you will be running from one thing to another. Take time off if you have to (if this job you are pitching for means that much to you).

  1. Don’t try to be in control; be organic with your answers.

I read from notes, verbatim. It was my way of trying to keep control of the situation. But my answers came across as wooden, unconvincing.

  1. Taking notes into the interview.

You may end up hiding behind them. I am reminded of people who shield themselves behind emails when their communication would be more sincere face-to-face. It is a non-confrontational approach. Interviews are all about confrontation whether we like it or not!

  1. Stick to the question.

This can be very hard to do when you are nervous. It doesn’t hurt to ask for the question to be repeated, but in this instance it backfired on me. The panel thought I wasn’t able to focus on the question; whereas I was ensuring that I had answered it completely.

  1. Selection Criteria.

I have since discussed the relationship of the Selection Criteria with the Interview Questions with 2 other colleagues. They are both adamant that the 2 are inextricably linked. I missed out on being prepared to answer 3 of the questions, as they were technical. I convinced myself that the questions would be more behavioural, cultural and corporate knowledge based (as this is what I learned in interview training!).

Answering the Selection Criteria correctly is what got your foot in the door after all.

  1. Read between the lines of the application.

Ask someone you know who is experienced at interviews to take a look too. They may shed some further light as we all see things differently.

  1. Wear something comfortable.

I wore a suit. It is a bit big for me in the shoulders and never feels right when I put it on. I would have been much better with a skirt and jacket as this is more ‘me’ when I am in work mode. And more comfortable!

  1. The interview is not all about you.

The interview is about the work culture you are pitching to be a part of. Sometimes it is tempting to segue into a personal experience to soften the climate and put yourself at ease. But this is irrelevant and inappropriate (fortunately I didn’t fall into this trap on this occasion, but have on previous ones).

  1. Give yourself permission to move on from your existing job.

People deserve to be happy and fulfilled at work.

Like it or not we spend a lot of time there! Sometimes we just outgrow the situation or it may not meet our changing needs to sustain a work / life balance.

  1. Have an open mind.

If the job is meant to be for you, so be it. If not there is always the next one…..put it down to experience, honing your craft. A wise friend once said: ‘the right job will find you in time’.

  1. Remember to breathe!

Oh and do something kind for yourself before and after the interview.

Good luck!

#interviews #careers #jobs