At a national conference on career
counselling, one of the presenters gave a demonstration that is
indelibly etched in our memories.
He called his assistant to the front
of the room to participate in an interview role play. The presenter,
playing the part of the interviewer, greeted his assistant by
saying, "Welcome, have a seat." Seeking only the interviewee's name,
he continued, "Okay, now, you are . . . ?" His assistant, in the
role of the interviewee, stumbled - "Umm, uhh, I'm ... umm."
The presenter leaped up from his
seat and, feigning ridicule, shouted, "You can't even remember your
own name?! What a loser!" He then reached into his jacket pocket,
produced a can of Silly String and showered his assistant with the
the sticky substance. "What a joke! Get outta my office!"
The presenter then politely thanked
his assistant and, turning to his rather shocked and amused
audience, asked, "Isn't that just about the worst thing that can
happen in an interview? Now, obviously, that would never happen in a
real interview. But what is the worst thing that is likely to
Our responses included "being
embarrassed," "being so nervous you couldn't get your thoughts
across," "the interviewer reads the newspaper while you answer
questions" and "losing a job that you know you are qualified for."
The presenter then asked, "Okay, so what are the consequences of
those events?" And the worst consequences that anybody could come up
with were loss of self-esteem and not being offered the job.
The presenter then turned the
tables. "What can happen to a company if a poor hiring
decision is made?" he asked. The responses were much more dramatic.
A really poor employee could ruin productivity, sexually harass
other employees, cause accidents, make life miserable for managers,
cause other employees to leave, give away company secrets to
competitors, steal from the company, sue the company - in essence,
create havoc and harm the company's bottom line, in some cases
So here's the point of the
story - if you have gotten as far as an
interview, the company already believes that you probably have the
skills to succeed in the job. Though they will probe for strengths
and weaknesses, more often than not they want you to succeed
in the interview, and they're giving you the opportunity to
demonstrate that you will be an able, conscientious and motivated
employee. While the company has much to lose by making a poor
decision, you have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose
during the interview process.
for each interview will ease some of your jitters.
While you must
focus your attention on what you have to offer the company, you
are meanwhile evaluating the company to determine the right
"fit" with your skills, your personality and your short- and
long-term goals. You do hold some of the power in this process.