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Interviews aren’t so scary

I’m killing time until a phone interview at 12:30 with a school in Morocco. I haven’t done a ton of research on the school and I have no idea what kinds of questions they’ll ask me, but I’m not all that nervous about it. In fact, I’m almost never nervous about interviews. Here are a few of the reasons why:

1) Experience

I’ve been part of literally thousands of interviews, either as the interviewer or the interviewee.  It’s just a conversation.  And if it’s not just a conversation – if it’s a grilling – it’s probably not a place you want to work.  Or at least, it’s not a place I want to work.

2) Perspective

Based on my experience, I see the interviewer as having the harder role.  He or she is trying to figure out what questions to ask so as to get the most important information about the interviewee so as to make the right hiring decision.  Although it may not feel like it in a bad economy, I still think it’s easier to find a new job than to fire and replace an employee who isn’t working out.

3) Empathy

Interviewers get nervous too.  They’re trying to balance selling their organization with asking good questions, making you feel comfortable, taking notes…they have a lot going on and they often don’t have a lot of experience doing it.  The calmer and more confident I am, the more comfortable I make the interviewer, which tends to lead to more positive interviews.

4) Familiarity

Most interviewers ask us about things we already know very well – ourselves and our experiences.  I could see being nervous interviewing for a job in a field that I knew nothing about, but I’m not interviewing for those positions.  I’m happy to talk endlessly about education; happily, that’s what most school recruiters want to ask me about.

In the end though, perhaps the best thing I do to take the stress out of interviews is to ensure that they need me more than I need them.  I always make sure I know what my best alternative is if the interview doesn’t work out and I don’t get the position – and that I’m comfortable with that alternative.  Once I know this, I can go into the interviews with nothing to lose.  If they like me, great!, but if they don’t, it’s okay.  I have other things I can do.

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