Best Way to put Job Interviews into Perspective

You are nervous because of what the job interview means to you. This is it. Real life. Your future. Your career. What you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. Success and failure hang in the balance.

Wait a minute, let’s try to put this into some kind of perspective. Almost nobody stays in one job anymore. The days of your grandparents, when a person went to a company and stayed there for life, are over. Chances are good that the job you are interviewing for will occupy your time for only a couple of years, maybe less. That’s not to say it’s unimportant. But it’s a far cry from determining your future. Imagining that it does will only increase the pressure you feel in interviewing to an unrealistic and undesirable level.

Job Interviews Best Way to put Job Interviews into Perspective

And remember, we’re not even talking about the job yet, we’re just talking about an interview. What’s the worst thing that can come out of the interview? That you are not made a job offer? Actually, that may be the best thing that could come out of the interview. Chances are you will interview for quite a number of positions in which you would not be happy.

Remember that the interviewer is not judging your worth as a human being. The fact that he or she does not offer you the job is not a reflection on you. You are not a bad or a lesser person because of it. If the interview is conducted correctly, and you do not receive an offer, it may mean only that you and the position are not a good match.

But let’s assume you run into an interviewer who has not had the good sense to read my articles. Because of that egregious error, he conducts an interview that does not allow him to recognize that you would be a perfect person for the position he is seeking to fill. Instead of doing what any sensible interviewer would have done—make you an offer—this person writes you one of those letters that thanks you for coming in, tells you how much he enjoyed meeting you, compliments you on your fine record—and then tells you to get lost (though he probably wishes you, and may even predict, “success in your future career”).

So what’s happened? You’ve gotten a bad break. You’ve missed out on an opportunity that might have been a good one for you. But is it the end of the world? Heck no, far from it. Are you less of a candidate because of it? Not a bit. Remember, it was the interviewer’s mistake. Think of his poor company, who will be deprived of your services because of his failing. Too bad for them.

Keep in mind that there is a good deal of luck involved in interviewing. Whether you get an offer may depend on whether you and the interviewer have something in common; on the timing of when your application landed (somebody may have resigned just the day before); or on whether you or the interviewer are having a good or bad day. Do not expect more rationality from the interview process than is reasonable.

Being an interviewee is character-building. You are going to get rejected. You’re going to be disappointed. Count on it. Quite likely, often. But it’s good practice for the rejection and disappointment you’re going to find inevitably (but I hope not too often) no matter what job you land. So, in that respect, the interview process is good preparation for any position, and for real life.

Come up with ways of dealing with rejection so that it will not affect your performance in subsequent interviews. I know of one interviewee who explicidy rejected rejection, writing the following letter to interviewers:

Dear Ms.

Thank you very much for your letter of 18 October 20XX. Your kind words and enthusiasm are both impressive and appreciated.

I have now had the opportunity to review your letter with members of my rejection committee. I regret that I am unable to accept your rejection. This decision was a difficult one to make, but because of my limited ability to deal with rejection I cannot accept such letters from all of the qualified interviewers that I meet.

On the strength of your discussions with me and your literary skills, I am certain that you will find many who will be willing to accommodate your rejection needs. Thank you for your interest and your prompt attention.

Job Interviews 1 Best Way to put Job Interviews into Perspective

Very truly yours,

Look at interviewing as an adventure. As with any adventure, there’ll be unexpected surprises. Expect that. Consider interviewing an opportunity to learn—about various companies you’ll speak to, about some interesting people you’re likely to meet as interviewers, and about yourself. Use your interviews as a way to hone some skills that are going to stand you in good stead in whatever job you land—the ability to present yourself well, to carry on a conversation with a person in a position of some power over you, to listen attentively, to analyze the pros and cons of a situation, and to develop your self-confidence. In other words, treat the interview seriously, but not so seriously that you can’t enjoy yourself.

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