Do you approach interviews like a student sitting down to take an exam? You “study” ahead of time, trying to anticipate the “right” answers that the hiring manager is likely looking for?

If you do, it’s time to stop.

The student-teacher analogy is the wrong one. Interviews are not tests where one side goes in blind and the other has the answer key.

Interviews are the beginning of a negotiation. You’ve got value to offer in the form of your talent, just like hiring managers have value to offer in the form of a paying job.

Here are five steps to re-calibrating your interview mindset for a fresh start in 2021…



Remember: you’ve got power. Your goal is not to contort yourself to fit into the mold of some ideal, hirable candidate.

Your goal is to communicate the value you could bring to the organization, as well as qualify the opportunity for yourself.

Ask yourself: what’s the worst thing that could happen? The answer: you don’t get the job. Those are the stakes – not more, not less. If the worst happens and you don’t get the job, that’s not a statement about your potential as a professional. It’s about that specific role on that specific team.



You need to make a judgment about the company you’re interviewing with, and that requires you to ask qualifying questions. The hiring manager needs to sell you not only on the role, but also on their own vision for their team.

Here’s an example of one way to do that: it’s common practice in interviews for managers to ask candidates where they see themselves in 5 years. But as the candidate, it’s time to start asking hiring managers what their 5-year strategy is.

What kind of team will they need to accomplish those goals? What kind of skills will they rely on?

Given the broader context, you can understand and show how you’re the right person not only for now, but also for the future.



Use the mirroring technique while interviewing to help your interviewer feel more comfortable and familiar, faster.

When you’re on the phone, listen to the tone, rate of speech or cadence of how the hiring manager is asking questions and try to match those qualities in your replies.

For example, if the manager has high energy and speaks quickly, you should try to respond with plenty of energy and pace yourself. If in person, its always good to match the body posture/body language, too.



As with any negotiation, rushing to fill silences puts you at a disadvantage.

When you act (and feel) like you’re on more equal footing with your interviewer, it becomes easier to allow pauses to pass naturally.

Don’t give your nerves the reigns: stay focused and concise when you answer an interviewer’s questions.



Pick the right recruiter.

There are a LOT of recruiters out there. So, do your research. Choose the right recruiter based on their reputation, area of focus (skillset), and location. Search for recruiters at firms that are Great Recruiters Certified, for example, as a way to narrow in on high quality.

Having the right recruiter at your side is a much more efficient way to go through a job search process, and really develop the best possible offer.

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