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by David Solloway | August 05, 2020


What you believe shapes the way you act. This means your beliefs about interviewing will influence how you prepare for and perform in interviews. So, to help you get in the right mindset to succeed in your next interview, here are five important tips.

Beware of destructive mindsets

Many job seekers think of interviewing as examinations. They take the perspective that interviews are like police interrogations. People with that mindset think the interviewer is in the room to discover their shortcomings. Worse yet, some people subconsciously see the interview as an evaluation of their value as a person. The anxiety caused by those mindsets makes it difficult for interviewees to process information and show confidence in the interview room. Those mindsets cause people to miss opportunities. Of course, those mindsets are largely incorrect!

Remember that interviews are conversations

Ideally, interviewers want to hear about how you’ve done things right in your career and how you’ve learned from mistakes—not to find a fault and lock you up. That is, the majority of interviews are designed to be more like conversations than verbal exams. Yes, interview questions can sometimes be difficult, but keep in mind that interviewers are more interested in finding the value you can add than seeking your flaws. In reality, interviewing is less like sitting through an interrogation and more like an opportunity to be interviewed by a late-night talk-show host. 

Think of interviewers as your future colleagues

Many interviewees find it helpful to think of the interviewer as a colleague they’ve worked with for a few years already. That “colleague perspective” helps interviewees enter the room with the appropriate degree of confidence and professionalism. One of the overarching questions in each interviewer’s mind is, “Can I see myself working with this person?” And so, when you interact with your interviewer in a collegial manner, they can make a more accurate (and likely preferable) assessment. As a part of the “colleague perspective,” you should interact with the interviewer in a degree of professionalism that balances their seniority with your authority.

Never forget that interviews don’t determine your value

Career coaches everywhere are troubled when they see a job seeker despair after not receiving several offers. The cause of the despair following rejection can usually be tied back to the interviewer having the mindset that they do not have value. But the outcome of any interview doesn't determine your value as a person, or even if you can add value. Interviews merely determine which candidate seems to have the most value to add.

Further, not receiving a job offer after an interview could mean several things. One could be that another candidate communicated the value they could add, and the hiring team believed that candidate could add value in a way you could not. The other possibility for not receiving a job offer is that you didn’t clearly communicate the value you could add. Tuck that into the back of your mind to recall after you don’t receive a job offer. Remember, you have value to add to organizations, and you need to communicate that value clearly.

Adopt a growth mindset

A growth mindset will make interview preparation and performance easier for you. A growth mindset is one that focuses more on learning what you can do to improve rather than what you’re doing wrong. People with a growth mindset place their energy on progress instead of wallowing or preserving ego. During preparation, someone with a growth mindset will spend time refining their communication skills rather than just relying on the communication skills that helped them so far. They’ll practice interviewing and seek out critical feedback so they know what they can improve.

During interviews, people with growth mindsets don’t count an interview as a loss because they fumble through one answer. They acknowledge their internal disappointment and focus on delivering a great answer to the next question. Interviewees with growth mindsets take the perspective that they’re candidates for jobs until hiring teams inform them otherwise. When they receive that rejection email, they seek feedback, then move on to find another opportunity. People with growth mindsets focus on the process, rather than the outcomes.

This post was excerpted from the new Vault Guide to Behavioral Interviews

David Solloway is a career consultant, life coach, and cross-cultural training/development specialist. He works as the assistant director for Daytime MBA Career Services at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and is a co-author of the Vault Guide to the International MBA Job Search.