Eliminate Interview Intimidation

Two months ago, a friend called me for help about an upcoming interview. Getting the promotion would help his family a bunch, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up.

After being on both sides of the process, I don’t stress it like I used to. I tried to pass on a few words, but I wasn’t sure how much it helped because he never really brought it up again.

Until today… when he texted, “I GOT THE JOB”.

When people go into an interview, they’re often at a disadvantage. They think about the power play, how the interviewer “has so much control” over the future of their lives. They try to think of what answers the interviewer wants to hear, so they try to memorize all these cues and lines.

That’s a lot of pressure to have going in.

Wanting the job badly– that’s natural. Being enthusiastic is a good thing. But being over-eager… that’s really no different from being desperate. But just like dating, there’s nothing attractive about someone begging you.

“I could be so good for you!”

So besides wiping that desperate look off your face, here’s some other points to keep in mind:

The interviewer doesn’t know what s/he’s doing.

Too often we think the person on the other side of the desk is a “perfect” professional. They must’ve been interviewing people for years! They know exactly what to look for.

Except they don’t.

Sometimes the person in front of you is filling in for the day. Maybe this person is a newly hired. Even if the person has been in the role for awhile, you have no idea what state of mind they’re in.

That intimidating look given? It’s very possible that scowl stems from something else.


The best answer is a calm answer.

So, now you’re reminded we’re not perfect– we’re all human. The next step is to apply that to your answers.

There is no perfect answer.

Instead of trying to “win” over your interviewer with what to say, you should focus on how not to “lose” them. If you panic and crumble, it’s game over.

Some interviewers like to play a game; they try to break you. They don’t care about your credentials. They just want to see you sweat. It’s cruel, but a lot of fun.

After you list how your experiences give you an advantage to the company, they might spin it, “But what are the disadvantages?”

After you finish giving a solid answer, the interviewer might give a little frown and sigh, “Oh…”

After your answer, the interviewer might pause just long enough to let your squirm in the silence. Then you start thinking, “Was my answer too short?”

In one interview I had, the guy shook his head every single time I answered. He looked so frustrated as he scribbled in his notebook too. I took the bait and lost all my confidence as the interview went on.

Oh, so that's what he was doing
Oh, so that’s what he was doing

Don’t fall for this stuff. Some interviews can be passed just by keeping your cool.

The bottom line.

Getting a feel for a person is really hard to do, especially in a 30 minute session. The interview system itself is flawed, but it’s a formality that will continue to exist.

When you get a rejection letter, it’s too easy to beat yourself up. I should’ve said this. I shouldn’t have done that.

But maybe you did just fine.

Even if you were the best candidate… the best candidate isn’t always the one chosen.

Sometimes when you go in to interview, the company already has their mind made up. They’re giving you the time of day just to be nice. It’s kind of like dating.

I’m not into you, but telling you before dinner’s over would be soooooooo mean!

Okay, maybe a lot like dating.

Want some extra interview practice? Sign up for a free training session on the speech coaching page!

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

4 thoughts on “Eliminate Interview Intimidation

  1. Lots of good tips here. I used to be terrified of interviews when I was younger, but at this point I almost enjoy them. When else is it acceptable to speak so glowingly about yourself?

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