The Interview Game

Like a Super Trouper lights are going to find me shining like the sun, smiling having fun, feeling like a number one.
Ryan's Hope has a good posting about interviewing from the candidate's point of view: (I've modified some of his phrasing)

The interview process is a bit of a game. The pre-game requires a lot of practice. The game itself can go a lot of different directions, and some elements are out of your control.

The fate of the interview seems to rest partially on how you see your interviewer - as an opponent or as a team member.

Some interviewers deliberately position themselves as opponents because they want to see how you react under pressure.

The best approach is to not to take that bait... just continue treating the person like a team member.

After the game is over, the post-game analysis can last for days. And nights. At 4:30 am you wake up replaying the interviews in your mind. The replays continue until the outcome is known.

If you dont' get the job, you take a vow to be rich and successful to show up the firm that dinged you! Then you cry or mope for a while... If your call comes from a senior officer, you dance the jig of joy.

These reactions to success and failure are inevitable, and there is no sense fighting them.

An article in the student publication of the Chicago Business School makes an interesting point that relates to optimism, or more specifically, the psychology of "winning" in the job search process:

I have seen many people falter during interviews because they were scared that one ill-perceived move was going to result in an interview ding.

Students who interview "not to lose" are tense from the initial handshake and carry a sense of reserve throughout the interview, which inhibits their ability to demonstrate enthusiasm for the position.

You must not allow yourself to fall into that "not to lose" mentality. So as you approach each interview, ask yourself one I doing this to "win" or am I doing this "not to lose?"

There is a difference, and the choice is yours.
That seems to be true of anything worth winning in life. If you focus too much on avoiding bad outcomes, you pass up on risks that are necessary for personal growth.

Ryan says a very wise thing:
1. Our reactions to failure are inevitable and there is no sense fighting them.

But he contradicts himself when he gives the following advice:
2. To be successful in life you can't be too afraid of losing.
3. Don't react to aggressive opposition with counter-aggression or fear.

He's not unreasonable in recommending these as worthy goals. They are. The problem lies in the implication that we can simply follow his advice on points 2 and 3 when these reactions of fear and loss aversion he tells us to avoid, are part and parcel the reaction to failure which he has just said is beyond our immediate control.

To react differently, you have to develop alternate responses and practice them over a long period of time (pre-game practice). And, this would surely have to be as thorough a re-conditioning as that you would encounter if you went to boot camp in the marines.

An idea comes to mind: has anyone ever recommended a mild tranquilizer on the interview day? It may sound extreme but if you're really nervous and you can figure out the dose, it might make a lot of sense.

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