A HIGH STAKES GAME
It’s normal for applicants to feel nervous in job interviews. We’ve all been there, right?
But have you ever considered that the interviewer might be more nervous than you are?
Think about it for a second… hiring is a high stakes game! Getting it wrong can cost a company thousands of dollars in wasted time and effort. And it's not uncommon for interviewers to feel unprepared, especially if they:
✖️ Lack expertise in the job they are considering you for
✖️ Lack sufficient time to prepare effective interview questions, or
✖️ Simply forget to read your resume beforehand - yes, this still happens!
So what can you do as a job applicant if you find yourself in this situation?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
✔️ Having extra copies of your resume on hand, in case they misplaced yours
✔️ Preparing a detailed introduction if they forget to review your background
✔️ Conveying understanding if they seem flustered
✔️ Promising to negotiate in good faith when discussing job offers
These are all helpful suggestions, no doubt, but there is one not mentioned here that I really want to focus on:
Try not to take ownership of interviewer's stress or take it personally
If they seems visibly confused or nervous, keep in mind that it probably has nothing to do with you. They are probably having a bad day! It won't help to doubt yourself for things that aren't your fault. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to put the interviewer at ease, but it does mean you are better off managing your own feelings first and foremost.
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE
Managing your own feelings might look like:
Breathing deeply while listening to the interviewer's questions
Grounding yourself in your body while giving your answers
Mentally rehearsing positive self-talk during pauses in the conversation
Noticing any painful bodily sensations with self-compassion
I admit that this advice is hard to implement in the moment, especially when the job interview isn't going as smoothly as it could be. But trust me, the more you are able to calm yourself, the better you will be at seeing the interviewer's nervousness for what it is: not your fault and not yours to fix.
The irony in all this is, when you manage your own feelings first, the other person is more likely to 'sync' with your calmness and feel more relaxed themselves. And that can be a huge morale boost for a hiring manager if they've already been having a bad day!