Best Way to Establish a Comfort Level During an Interview

It’s important to recognize up front that the interview is an artificial construct. Why do I say that? Well, outside of an interview, how often are two complete strangers locked in a room alone together for half an hour or so, each seeking desperately to make a favorable impression on the other while at the same time trying to pry as much information as they can out of the other? Neither party is likely to feel at ease in that situation.

Why is being at ease important? In the interview, each party is trying to get information from, and convey information to, the other. But what happens when you are talking to somebody and do not feel at ease? You naturally turn defensive, clam up, and don’t give the other person the information he wants—or you give him only the information he asks for, and you certainly do not volunteer any additional information. And an anxious interviewer or interviewee is unlikely to pay full attention to what the other has to say. In short, unless they feel at ease, both parties tend to revert to playing the interview game, which provides them with the comfort of predictable rules and the prospect of no surprises.

Comfort During Interview Best Way to Establish a Comfort Level During an Interview

Let’s consider what may be going through each person’s mind as an interview begins? The interviewer may be thinking: Who is this person I’m talking to? Why doesn’t he just go away and let me get back to the project I need to finish? How am I ever going to finish all of the things I need to do at work today? What questions am I going to ask? What questions can’t! ask, or I’ll get in trouble? I have to remember to get to the cleaners before they close tonight, and to let the Johnsons know we’re not going to make it for dinner Saturday night.

The interviewee, for his part, may be thinking: Who is this person I’m talking to? Will she be the one who decides whether or not I’m offered this job? I have to get back right after this interview to finish up that work that’s due tomorrow. Is my hair combed right? I hope Sally can go to that play on Friday.

In addition, the interviewee is likely to feel:




anxious to make a favorable impression

that this interview is a lifetime decision

Comfort During Interview 1 Best Way to Establish a Comfort Level During an Interview

Of course, not every interviewee will feel exactly the same way. An interviewee’s feelings will be affected by the experience she has had in interviewing, the degree of success achieved so far in school or work, whether she already has other offers, the urgency of getting a job soon, and the desirability of the particular job. Nonetheless, the above feelings are surprisingly applicable to a great many interviewees. Indeed, experienced interviewers often marvel at the insecurity of even the most outstanding candidates.

In other words, both the interviewer and the interviewee may have a lot of other things on their minds. They may have anxieties, both relating to the interview situation and outside of it.

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