How Not to Hate Job Interviews


Many of us have serious reservations about job interviews. I assure you, that I do as well. My reasons for concern may be a bit more complicated than yours. (For example, they can serve as an excruciatingly poor selection tool if implemented unwisely). However, your reasons for hating interviews are every bit as valid. I’ll venture to say, that you probably dislike interviews because of how the interview — or the interview process — makes you feel.  You are not alone.

I am extremely sympathetic. However, let’s go out on that proverbial limb and face your concerns (and your emotions). I’d like to challenge your mindset, and train you to approach the entire experience differently. You see, the funny thing is, as much as I have always questioned the true merit of employment interviews —  I’ve never hated being interviewed. I’m convinced that my lack of hatred has everything to do with how I view the process. More specifically, accepting the things that probably will not change about interviews and re-categorizing the experience as one tremendous opportunity.

Here is what I mean:

  • Embrace being “judged”. Bring it on. While being interviewed, people will certainly form opinions concerning your skills, abilities and even your personal demeanor. Tell yourself that is just fine — remembering that when people cross your path you do exactly the same thing. During the course of your career, managers and coworkers will make judgments about you on a daily basis. So what? Convince yourself to view each of these judgments as a challenge to effectively build your unique “brand”.
  • Be astute and “try on” the organization. Remember — this may be the company with which you develop a long-term relationship. Consider that point carefully. Be thankful you have the chance to gather as much information as possible. Take the opportunity to size up leadership and where the organization is really headed. What is your impression? Do you see yourself working there? Getting a bad vibe? Explore this — as it may be the only forewarning you’ll receive.
  • Say “thank you” to organizations behaving badly. Has the organization not acted as you would have expected? Unprofessional? No follow-up? Don’t let these behaviors derail you. Welcome this type of behavior as a clear and present warning. If an organization doesn’t seem to show concern for you from the start, this is most likely a glimpse into your future. I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s discussion with Oprah, where she explained, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The same premise extends to an organization. Unless there is some remarkable explanation as to why they have not bothered to contact you (for a month), be grateful for the realistic preview and run in the opposite direction.
  • Accept ambiguity. Even though there was an ever-present possibility that the outcome wouldn’t go in my favor, I tried to embrace the opportunity to be interviewed. Unfortunately, “not knowing” is simply part of the process. But to be completely honest, the world of work is full of ambiguity. It is best to adjust to it and attempt to remain positive while you are waiting. Nothing is set in stone after you complete an interview — but at the same time, this makes the possibilities endless.

If you change your view of employment interviews, you may have an easier time processing the accompanying negative emotions. I’d like to guarantee that the experience will be easier for you to handle in the future. However, that is at least partially up to you.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist and coach.  Bring her ideas to your organization and connect with her on Twitter.

This post previously appeared at Talent Zoo

19 thoughts on “How Not to Hate Job Interviews

  1. I enjoyed the article and believe there is real truth in your perspective. I’m wondering after reading the comments, if for some reason, women enjoy the interview process more than men? I don’t particularly mind it, but I can’t say I enjoy it. On either end, it can seem to be endless, hard to find “perfect” finality and is often at the mercy of many schedules and calendars for appropriate feedback to be gathered. That seems to mean that it takes a long time these days to get everyone on the same page and unanimously moving towards a new employment agreement. One recent anecdote was particularly interesting coming from a chief executive on my interview panel. He said that while he was fascinated by interviews, he hated them at the same time because he could easily say NO to pushing a candidate forward but almost never could say definitively YES. He found that interviewing sales people felt like a particular challenge because he believed selling was the primary skill set of the candidates and he found it difficult to get beyond selling behavior and make real judgements on personality traits key to successful passionate team members.


  2. I blog often and I seriously appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked my interest.
    I’m going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


  3. Honest article, I think it’s so accurate,I think the hardest part of interviews are our own negative views and emotions! Sharing this one with my job-searching friends. Thanks!


  4. I love this article especially the first point you made “Embrace being “judged”. Not seeing judgement as a negative but using it as motivation to develop and tailor your brand.


  5. Great article,
    I am a fresh graduate student and just attended my first interview last month. Everything seemed to go perfectly well in the interview and i was almost 100% sure i would get the job but the company made me wait almost a month to reply with a generic letter of rejection. I still do not know what i did to be rejected – i feel interviewers should take a minute to at least say what the candidate is lacking.


  6. I dont object to job interviews just to the fact that the majority of interviewers (excluding recruiters) are so poorly prepared.


  7. I absolutely agree. I liked interviewing as a hiring manager (I enjoyed doing reviews as well – clearly I’m built for reflection) and I enjoy the challenge now as a job seeker. Though it is hard not to stumble over that last point…


  8. This was an awesome article and makes total sense when you break it down. I am starting the interview process again after 8 years with a company and this article made great points. Thank you


  9. Great insight. I am not afraid of interviews. If I let who I am shine through the interviewer should judge me on that.

    If who I am is not a good fit for the organization, I don’t belong there. The worst thing would be for me to present myself as someone who I am not. We all have value and just need the right fit.


  10. I agree 100% percent. Interviewing has a long way to go. Even though researchers have identified methods to improve validity, offering strategies to make them more comfortable for interviewees has not been addressed.

    I have been there – 4 people staring you down – for what seems to be hours on end. Indeed broken.

    So, we need to arm ourselves with a bit of a “mind shift”.

    Thank you for your comment! It has been a pleasure getting to know you.


  11. Thanks, Marla! Your points are great and I am right there with you – bring on the judgement, the opportunity, the experience! It’s all knowledge you tuck away and learn from.

    There are bigger issues with the process though – similar to how much of school is a broken system, designed specifically for one type of personality and leaving others out to dry, so is the interview process.

    Things that come to mind … 1 candidate having to interview with 3 people in one room for 2 hours. I’ve been there. As an introvert, that wreaks havoc. Extrovert thrives in that situation. Broken.

    I want to see interviewing in a positive light, and I keep it posi as much as possible, but there is much to be fixed and much to be brought to light on ways to improve this process so that both employers end up with the right people and vice versa. Much work to be done.


  12. I must be completely mental because I like interviewing. Even if I don’t get a job offer, I get better at it each time. Besides, it gives me the opportunity to meet new people.


  13. Great article! I personally think that post-secondary students looking for internships are even a little bit more terrified than an average job seeker. This is a great perspective and I will share this to my peers who needs to see it.


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