One of the biggest misconceptions that we have about job interviews is that they’re fair. Going through an interview feels a little like taking a test at school. And, we’re taught to believe that enough preparation could help you to overcome any obstacles. Being great at answering questions will help you put any objections to rest. I wish this were completely true, but there’s more to the story.
Job interviews are like anything else in life. Sometimes they’re fair. But often, you can’t see the entire picture. Unfortunately, when you believe you’re taking part in a fair process, you may put forth all of your energy in order to ace one interview. When the interview doesn’t work out, we take it personally. We believe there must have been something we could have done differently. We assume it was our fault that we didn’t get the job.
Sure, it’s possible to mess up a job interview. It’s possible to completely be rejected with the wrong attitude. But, you can also do everything right and not land the job. On the other extreme, you can land a job for virtually no real reason. I once knew someone who landed a technical computer job because they were a great golfer. It’s hard to compete when you didn’t know golf was a requirement.
So, where does that leave you? Does it mean that you should just give up? No, it doesn’t. But, it does mean that you have to try to separate yourself emotionally from the process. It’s hard to do. I struggle with this myself. But so very often, there are things going on outside of your control that have nothing to do with you or your talent – and they often have little to do with your interview performance.
So, first, separate yourself emotionally as much as you can. Realize that job searching is a numbers game and consider changing your approach. Rather than applying online, look for creative ways to contact the hiring manager. When you land a job interview, you should do your best to prepare. You should know your elevator pitch, why you believe you are a fit for the role, and basic information about the company. If the interviewer likes you, this should be enough preparation to get you past the first screening.
For the sake of your mental health (and being able to sustain multiple first round interviews interviews), you should avoid pouring your entire being into preparing for a few round interview. I know that this is somewhat counterintuitive. But, the more time you spend focused on one interview, the more devastated you will be if you don’t get the job. And let’s face it, you often have to get a number of rejections before you’ll get to a yes.
Realize that the process is broken; not your resume. Keep pushing ahead. After all, winning at job search is in fact a numbers game.