Interviews: “The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Process for Serious People”

Having interviewed thousands of people in my career, and having been interviewed myself, I can’t ever remember “an awkward interview” being successful. Interviews are, by nature, an awkward process. You can feel vulnerable, self conscious or even nonchalant. One things certain though; you’re being judged.

The skill lies in balance: taking the interview process seriously, while building rapport with the interviewer.

I remember a few years ago reading a report that said 55% of the impact you make at interview depends on how you look and behave, 38% on how you speak and only 7% on what you actually say. In a time when Sex and City and Ally McBeal TV shows were becoming mainstream in popular culture (with good looking women in good jobs) I understood the sensationalism and journalistic license but I got the point; 

People take a lot from how you look and behave in an interview.


A slightly more academic study by the University of Texas and Sonoma State University found that “levels of extroversion, self-esteem, and how religious you are can be judged from your physical appearance”. There’s a lot to be judged on and a lot of pressure created for someone going on an interview. No wonder so many are awkward!

There are lots of “Top Tips” on “nailing the interview”. I even blogged about one myself a couple of years ago. Successful interviews, in a nutshell, focus on 3 things:

Punctuality and Respect

First impressions are important – be on time, turn your phone off, try to avoid controversy and be careful not to interrupt. Make sure your social media presence is also clean.

Confidence (not arrogance)

Build rapport – don’t be too serious. It’s preferable that the interviewer(s) like you. This includes body language: keep your hands visible, hold eye contact, dress appropriately and smile! Confidence effects different people in different ways.  Research has shown that candidates with higher  motivation for a particular role are more confident. Check your motivations; if you’re not feeling confident – is it the right job for you?

Content of the conversation (how you answer their questions and what you ask them)

Make sure you have done research on the company and JD. Plan ahead. You should have prepared examples of addressing key points in the JD to achievements in your CV. Preparation prior to interview with relevant examples will make you more confident. Practice them.

Above all, be sincere and honest with both the interviewer(s) and yourself throughout the whole process. If you’re not, then you could end up having an “awkward interview”. 

Finally, remember that you can’t win them all. Keep smiling, and don’t get disheartened if you’re not offered the role; it’s probably not the right one.


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