Embarrass yourself before the interview instead of during it

There is nothing worse than drawing a blank in a job interview.

Tue, April 29th, 09:11


The people on the other side of the table will decide on the next step in your career, but for some reason you can’t find the piece of information they’re looking for. You know it’s buried somewhere in your memory, but the question caught you off guard so right now you’ve got nothing. When that happens, the combination of frustration, nerves and embarrassment can be crippling.

The only way to avoid that situation is to prepare properly; both by researching the company and by practicing your interview technique.

Practice makes perfect

The best way to practice is to do a mock interview with a friend or relative, ideally someone who has conducted interviews themselves. Run through the standard interview process. Start with a summary of your CV, then move on to questions about your experience with reference to the job you are applying for. Finish with a few questions about broader topics like your ability to work in a team or specific scenarios like a tight deadline or a difficult client.

This will be most effective if it runs exactly as an interview would. Start with a greeting, including handshake and leave the room before breaking the illusion of the interview. This is the best way to replicate the interview experience and get genuine feedback on your performance.

If you can’t do a mock interview, the next best thing is to practice prepared answers in front of a camera or in the mirror. This will allow you to get a clear picture of how you deliver interview answers. It should help you to spot areas for improvement in your delivery, and more than that it will help you to shake off a lot of the nerves that surround interviews. Like any other skill, the more you repeat your delivery the more confident it will become.

Choose the right kind of embarrassment

Most of us already know that we would do better at interviews with a bit more practice. However, very few of us actually do the practice. Usually this is because we feel too self-conscious to sit in front of a relative, or a mirror, and talk about ourselves. It can feel silly, as an adult, to spend time pretending to be in an interview. Talking to a camera in an empty room can feel even sillier. Especially as you know you will then have to cringe watching the recording back.

None of those are anywhere near as embarrassing or upsetting as sitting across a table from three strangers and not knowing what to say or how to say it. The question is, would you prefer to be embarrassed at home with a friend or in an interview for a dream job?

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Eoin Keenan

The Irish Times