At the beginning of our career, most of us probably dreamed about a good job interview in which we would make such a positive impression on the interviewer that they wouldn’t want to wait another day before hiring us. As we grew up, however, it became more and more obvious that not every interview is a perfect one. Ask anyone how many jobs they have had and how many interviews they have been to: chances are the latter will outnumber the former.

To prevent any feelings of misery and depression that might arise from this simple observation, let’s agree, from the start, that an unsuccessful job interview should not be seen as a tragedy, but rather as an example of a mistake we should avoid in the future. Such phrases as “the chance of a lifetime” and “unique opportunity” may sound nice, but few things in life are unique. There will always be new opportunities and new chances for us to improve our good job interview skills.

Thus, instead of letting regret overcome us, we should rather take time to review the details of the interview, so that we’ll know where we need to improve. Evaluate every stage and aspect of the interview that you can remember well, from the preparation phase till you left the office. It might help to remember what the interviewer said and did too – chances are, many of them have read the same books on interviewing and you’ll be able to predict their questions more easily in the future.

Of course, it’s not just your mistakes that you should identify. The evaluation process will also reveal positive aspects, things you did right. You’ll know not only what you need to avoid, but also what you should keep.

One last piece of advice: don’t let all this reviewing make you self-conscious. No one is perfect, and no one is expected to be. But by going over your interviews in a relaxed and objective manner, you can improve.

Answering Interview Questions: Time vs. Relevance

When it comes to job interviews, silence is frequently mentioned as one of the things interviewees fear the most. Many tend to see a delayed answer as indicating insufficient self-confidence or, worse, as a sign that the person is not well enough prepared for the interview or that they lack the specific skills required by the position they are being interviewed for.

Different people will display different reactions to an unexpected question. Some might just blush, or stutter, or even experience a block. Others will try to use time-filling expressions to somehow mask their difficulty in answering the question. “That’s a very good question” is probably among the most frequent, yet least inspired among such fillers. When you think of it, it seems unrealistic that the interviewer should fall for it, since they have probably talked with hundreds of people already and can easily identify hesitation, however you may try to hide it.

Is this a reason to abandon hope and never go to another interview? No, not at all. The previous paragraph was not meant to be discouraging, it was just an illustration of the idea that trying to outsmart the interviewer may result in outsmarting yourself and is therefore not the best idea. Instead, you might try a more reasonable approach.

At a closer look, people’s fear of short pauses doesn’t seem justified at all. The interview is not a race against time, so the importance of promptness in answering questions should not be taken to the extreme. Furthermore, the interviewer is most likely aware that some questions might be difficult, so they are probably more interested in the quality of the answer rather than in the speed of your response. In other words, an appropriate answer given after a few seconds of thinking is better than a thoughtless one given immediately. It’ll definitely make you look like someone who analyzes before interpreting and deciding.

To conclude, short pauses are not something to be afraid of. On the contrary, they may even work to your advantage. Concentrating on your thoughts before answering a question is a lot better than concentrating on the right time filler to use, and it can greatly increase the word count/relevance ratio in your discourse. Couple this bit of advice with the interview review process suggested above and you should see your confidence and skills significantly boosted leading to good job interviews.

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