One thing no one ever tells you about job interviews

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Few things are more intimidating than a job interview. You’re sitting across from the hiring manager, conscious of every little thing, a monologue running in the back of your mind that sounds something like this:

Why did my voice just do that weird thing? Dammit, I’m talking too fast. I always talk too fast in interviews. Am I sitting too still? Shoot, now I’m fidgeting! Crap, that was a stupid answer. Did I make a weird expression just now? Why is she so deadpan? She must think I’m an idiot.

If this is your world right now, I feel ya. It’s not easy to put yourself out there, and sometimes it can feel as if every hiring manager is deliberating trying to undermine you.

But having been on both sides of the interview table more times than I can count, I’ll tell you a secret:

Hiring managers want you to be the candidate they’re looking for.

That’s right. The vast majority of hiring managers are not sitting there looking for ways to sabotage you. They’re not trying to make you look stupid. With very few exceptions, they don’t want to upset you, make you cry or otherwise insult your dignity.

Here’s the truth, spoken from years of personal experience: Hiring is incredibly hard work. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. It always takes longer than planned. By the time you reach the in-person interview, the hiring manager has probably gone through dozens of resumes, job candidates and phone screens. She’s fallen behind on all her other work. She really, really wants you to be the right candidate so she move on to other things (like bringing you up to speed on all the work she needs you to do).

And if the hiring manager is new to interviewing or was never taught how to interview well, he’s probably even more intimidated than you are.

Let that sink in for a moment.

There’s a good chance the hiring manager is even more intimidated than you are.

I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed someone. The candidate sat across the table, looking to me to be the confident expert, and I felt like a total imposter. My inner monologue sounded an awful lot like the one at the beginning of this article:

Do I look confident right now? Ugh, why did I wear a t-shirt today? I look like a total slob! Crap, I don’t know the answer to that question. I should know the answer to that question. Is my face too deadpan? There’s no way he’ll want to work here after this interview. He must think I’m an idiot.

That imposter feeling gets better with practice, but it never fully goes away.

So you see, dear job seeker, you and the hiring manager have more in common than you think. If you’re among the 71 percent of employees who want to change jobs next year, I hope you find this comforting.

And as always, if you need a little help spiffing up your personal brand before the busy January and February hiring season, let me know.

Photo by Olu Eletu