Often, what determines the outcome of your interviews has little to do with the questions you’re asked and if you know all the answers. Instead, the outcome is often dependent on your interview mindset—how you think about interviews and how you approach them.
For example, some thoughts will lead you astray, making you feel more pressure, stressed, nervous, insecure, and anxious. These thoughts include: I hope they’ll like me. There are so many other candidates more qualified than me. I really don’t have the skills or experience they’re looking for. What if I blank on a question or don’t know the answer?
On the other hand, there are several thoughts you can hold in mind that will lead to success, making you feel calm, confident, enthusiastic, engaged, and curious. All of which are ideal states of mind to have when interviewing. Here, below, are eight such thoughts, along with why they’re so powerful.
1. This is nothing more than a conversation to see if there’s a mutual fit.
When you keep in mind that by interviewing you’re assessing whether this company and role are good fits for your long-term career goals, you level the playing field, taking much of the pressure off of you. This thought positions you as a high value candidate who’s looking for what will work for you, not just trying to impress your interviewer. Interviewers value candidates who are also looking after their own interests, not just trying to please their interviewers.
2. I have a lot of value to offer.
This thought brings your value to the surface of your mind. When you believe you have value to offer (and you do!), you’re able to approach interviews more generously. You feel comfortable speaking about your skills and accomplishments and what you can bring to the organization you’re applying to. This creates balance in an interview and will go a long way toward relaxing and calming your interview nerves.
3. I’m interested to find out how I can best help them.
This thought generates feelings of curiosity. It allows you to get curious about how the value that you offer aligns with what the organization wants to accomplish. This can lead to you asking great questions that will get your interview thinking that you’re very interested in serving them—and that’s an incredibly attractive quality in a candidate.
4. An interview is a human conversation not everyone gets the chance to have.
The fact is getting the interview in the first place is a huge win in itself. Not everyone gets the interview, in fact very few people do. So, when you’re in that interview, that means you’ve already proven yourself capable. Hold this in mind and watch your confidence grow.
5. The interview will go as it’s meant to go—I’m not attached to the outcome.
When you have a sense of confidence within yourself and you’re not stressing out about the outcome of the interview, you’ll be able to speak more calmly about yourself, your skills, your experience, and your value. You’ll be able to access your answers calmly as opposed to panicky—when you focus on the outcome, you tend to feel stressed, anxious, and panicked. And when hiring managers sense that someone is very attached to the outcome, they can associate this with neediness and desperation, causing them to not move you forward in the process.
6. If they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to, I’ll handle it.
In most interviews, you’ll likely get a question you don’t know the answer to, so the trick is to not get thrown off. Think of it like this: If you were having a conversation with a friend or colleague and there was something you didn’t know, how would you handle it? You probably wouldn’t think that just because you don’t know the answer, it means you’re not smart or lesser than. However, in interviews, we tend to expect more of ourselves, and this can show up as overcompensating and hurt us in the end. So, it’s important to remind yourself that you can still do a great job in this role even if you might not have a specific answer to every single question. Hiring managers are looking to discover the big picture of who you are—that’s much more important than one piece of information you might not know at a particular moment in time.
7. No matter what happens, this is a great opportunity to connect with new people.
No matter what happens in your interview, you’re on the right path to your ultimate result by showing up to your interview and going through the experience of interviewing. You’ll be able to learn something about yourself, the interviewing process, and your ability to handle a difficult situation like an interview. The interview is never a waste of time even if you don't get the job. There’s always a lesson to be learned from each experience you have. So, keep this in mind and embrace learning new things about yourself.
8. I don’t need a 100 percent on this test to pass it.
A big trap that candidates often fall into is thinking they must score a perfect 100 in their interviews, answering every question perfectly in order to move on in the recruiting process. So, when they miss one question or don’t answer it perfectly, they often let that derail them, lowering their energy, allowing the rest of the interview to go poorly. Of course, the truth is one question or one imperfect answer does not determine an interview’s outcome. Every day, people are hired without having all the answers to every single interview question. So, remove the thought from your mind of having to perfect, and replace it by embracing imperfection. Doing so will relax and calm you—before, during, and after your interview.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their ideal roles and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If you want to dive deeper on the topic of your career mindset and know exactly how to land your dream job offer, listen to her coach you on her Get a 6-Figure Job You Love podcast.
Even within all advancements and changes to the job search process, some parts of the interview process remain unchanged. For example, hiring managers still use certain common interview questions to judge how well candidates will fit with their firms.
It’s natural that interviewing can sometimes feel unnatural, as it can often be difficult to know “who you’re supposed to be” during an interview. You might think that you need to interview in a certain way and try to be what hiring managers are looking for, rather than just being yourself.
In a recent blog, I outlined my five-step method for professional networking. I offered a perspective on how the strategy for conducting informational interviews is just as applicable today as it was 10 years ago when I entered business school.
“New hire’s remorse”—at least under this name—is a recent phenomenon that we broached last week. Also called “shift shock,” it arises when an employee regrets taking a job because it isn’t the right fit or is completely different from what was expected.