Ask yourself, 'What is an interview?'

An interview, online, by phone, or in person, is a search for information.

The employer needs to find out and compare the knowledge and skills of potential employees.

From that point, an interview equates to a form of quality control. The more articulate, comprehensive and intelligent the answers, the more effective the performance of the interviewee, the better.

Bearing in mind the amount of suffering experienced by most interviewees at some time in their careers, it doesn't sound too much like those experiences, does it?

There's a way to stop suffering and start achieving things.

Your own feelings

Your feelings at an interview are your own doing. The interview environment might not help much, but people can talk themselves into a state of panic. Even very intelligent, competent, people can become inarticulate.

That just doesn't need to happen.

It's an interview, not a death sentence.

Remember- You're trying to do something for yourself.

Keep that thought in mind.

Anything else you do for yourself is almost automatic. You bring yourself together quickly, and do things efficiently, in your own interest.

You spend every day managing your own affairs. Just about everything you do is done in your own interest. Most of that is done almost without conscious thought, because a lot of it is familiar.

So what's so different about an interview?

Pure psychology.

People are naturally wary of unfamiliar environments.

It's a survival instinct.

Add a job, a few total strangers, a bit of uncertainty about what's going to happen next, and some self inflicted pressures, and the Interview Panic Scenario is inevitable.

Actually, it's 100% avoidable.

  • You're going for the job because you know the work.
  • You're not there for no reason.
  • You got the interview specifically because of your skills and experience.
  • Talking to people isn't exactly an unfamiliar experience. You may even do it again someday.
  • You're actually well within your knowledge base, in an interview. You're on home turf.


Having got over the Interview Panic Scenario, it's time to get down to cases, and do a bit of Performance Management of yourself.

Let's start with the obvious:

What information does the employer really need, for this job?

What's absolutely essential?

You do know, that's why you got the interview, but you have to organize your information.

Pin down the really important material from the information you have about the job.

The need is to interpret for yourself, so your thinking can deal with the questions and produce a good answer that shows your level of knowledge.

A question like 'How do you work in a team?' is pretty normal.

Think. If necessary, say your answer out loud, write it down, look at it.

How good is your first answer? Need some work? Does it say everything you want to say? Is it 'wordy' or badly expressed?

Yes, because it's not 'learned' knowledge, at this point. You haven't had the chance to develop a comprehensive reply. It's one of the weak points of the interview system, because people give ad hoc, impromptu answers when they actually know better.

Hindsight is infuriating. You knew the answer, but didn't say it at the time.

This is your chance to get your hindsight beforehand.

Always consider the content and quality of your answers. That's what cuts the ice at an interview, and it's how performance affects the interviewers. The competent answer is what they need to hear.

You probably know a lot about the job. Turn that into information you can include in your answers as the questions raise the topics.

Practice, practice, and then practice some more.

Get fluent in your answers, to the extent that you're having a conversation, more than an interview.

Get a friend to help you rehearse.

This is a performance art.

Adding value to an interview

The opportunities will come to add something extra to your interview.

'Extra' is what will get you the job.

On a competitive basis, there's a minimum level. You can assume all applicants have that level of skills.

To beat other applicants, you have to add something they don't have:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Achievements and awards
  • Additional skills
  • A career path is a good indicator of your application of skills and your commitment.
  • Goals are sometimes a deciding factor. The person trying to go further is often a better bet for an employer.
  • Personal values and integrity are major factors in some jobs.

These can be added when you get to your chance to make your pitch for the job, but sometimes they relate to the questions.

You'd be advised to make sure you can add a bit throughout the interview, on each topic and aspect of the job.

This is the extra percentage that can weigh in your favor when comparisons are made. Don't get too modest about what you can do, or have done.

You're there to get a job, not take a vow of silence and enter a monastery.

If you don't like sounding vain, you can express yourself modestly, but you really must provide that information.

After all, you did do all those things, they are relevant to the job.

The employer is entitled to know anything which reflects on your work. Why leave out the good bits?

Anyway, don't you think it'd sound a bit strange if you didn't mention something which shows a very high level of skills?

Interviews are very much what you make them.

Never mind the distractions.

Get down to business, give it your best shot, and you can expect a better result, whatever the situation.