5 Scary Thoughts Everyone Has During a Job Interview


What do you think about when you hear the word "interview?"

Does it invoke feelings of dread, terrifying memories, and lucid nightmares? Or perhaps your experience with the interview process has been decidedly more positive.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, there are a number of thoughts almost everyone has during an interview. We're going to take a gander at what those thoughts are and how we can best respond to them. (See also: This Interview Technique Will Get You Hired)

1. "Is it my fault that handshake was so awkward?"

Awkward handshakes are a part of life. It's quite shocking how many ways there are to mess up the same classic greeting we've been doing for centuries. Nothing kills your confidence at the outset of an interview quite like an awkwardly misfired handshake. (See also: 10 Body Language Mistakes That Sabotage Most Interviews)

If you experience this in an interview, don't waste your time wondering whose fault it was or what the interviewer is thinking. If you act awkward about it, you'll kill the mood for the entire interview. If you jump straight into engaging with the interviewer and confidently advance the conversation, the opening jumble will be forgotten.

2. "They're not saying anything. Am I supposed to say something?"

Long pauses can be difficult to navigate. Your interviewer finishes a statement and then simply stares at you for a few moments, as if you're supposed to say something. Or you finish your answer to a question, but the interviewer continues looking at you as if he/she expects more. What now?

Treat the conversational element of your interview like you would any other conversation. You can't control the other person. You can't dictate what they will or will not do within your discourse. Just focus on yourself. If they fail to ask a question, say something such as, "I feel like there's a question in there somewhere," just as you would if a friend behaved similarly in a casual conversation.

3. "Why are they trying to sell me on the company?"

Good companies are run by good employees. I know this, yet somehow, it always surprises me when the interviewer starts selling me on the company. If you're at the interview stage, it means either your resume stands out or your networking was fantastic. Either way, you're the type of talent who has options, or at least, that's a possibility your interviewer is aware of.

Come with specific questions prepared. When you catch that first whiff of salesmanship, it's time to take over the interview and begin asking meaningful questions about why this company is the right fit for you.

4. "How invested in getting this position should I appear to be?"

Do you act like this is your dream job? You don't want to appear desperate. Do you pretend you have much better offers on the table? They aren't going to offer the position to someone who isn't interested.

Finding the right balance of purported interest can be tricky. Ultimately, you want to put yourself in the same bracket as they see you. To them, you are one possible choice on a shortlist of options, any of which will work, and none of which are irreplaceable. You should approach the interviewing company in a similar manner. It is one of several strong options you're considering. You could absolutely see yourself working there, but you will be 100% fine if it doesn't work out.

5. "Dang it, I have no clue how to answer this question."

It seems that no matter how much we prepare, there's always at least one question which completely throws off our interview groove. It might be that one question you didn't want them to ask about your resume. It could be an ambiguous question about your weaknesses or a query concerning topics with which you are unfamiliar.

First, stop and breathe. Don't rush into an incoherent answer because you're afraid of a brief silence. The most important thing to understand is that questions are always a positive opportunity. You are being given full license to frame any issue or topic in whatever way suits you best. You have a few moments to construct the interviewer's perspective of you and dismantle any assumptions that would otherwise arise.

Interview questions, like the interviews themselves, are simply your opportunity to shine.

What scary thoughts have you had during a job interview? How did you get through them?

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Guest's picture

I think the most awkward questions are those regarding compensation, if an employer wants me to disclose how much I'm currently making, they should disclose how much they are currently paying the person for that position.

I always find it hilarious when companies try to headhunt myself and colleagues and then use this method to try and low ball. Not. Going. To. Work.

Jacob McMillen's picture

Great point. That's interesting. I've had quite a few interviewers ask me about my pay expectations, but I've never had one ask me to disclose what I'm currently making. Awkward. I suppose if they asked, I'd simply tell them my salary expectations.

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