Conquer Interview Intimidation

Job interviews suck. It’s the one thing hiring managers and job seekers can agree on. Candidates: Believe it or not, hiring managers suffer from the same nerves that come with each grueling interview process. Despite common belief, hiring managers are not the stereotypical, all-knowing tormentors waiting to bust your chops. Because most of them are not classically trained as interview conductors, they are often just as fearful of screwing up as you are. In fact, it’s at the top of their list of “Most Dreaded HR Tasks.” Unfortunately, for both parties, the job interview is a necessary evil in order to move both a hiring manager’s business and a candidate’s career forward.

The only way to overcome this inevitable fear is by understanding the role of the job interview in today’s business climate. For candidates, that means planning your goals and desired outcomes while taking the time to recognize the goals and desired outcomes of your potential employer. Although it may not always seem that both parties are on equal footing, hiring managers must extend the same courtesy to their candidates in order to run a successful interview.

First things first, what is a job interview? Let’s start with the basics. An employer has a problem that needs fixing, which brings him to his next step: arrange a meeting with a potential partner who allegedly possesses the skills and knowledge to solve said problem. During that time, the employer will share the responsibilities of the role as well as the vision, mission and values of his organization. Throughout the engagement, he will determine whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the job. Because he wishes to know and understand the candidate fully, he will probe beyond the surface and ask behavioral-based questions. It’s the candidate’s job to prove to the employer that he or she is both qualified for the role (by presenting solutions to the employer’s problem), and makes a good fit for the unique company culture.




  1. Understand your audience.
    • Candidates:Research the company. Spend time on their website, check out their profile on LinkedIn, and find out the organization’s reputation and activity in the business community. With these resources available, you will be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s vision and mission before getting in the hot seat. Get to know your hiring team, what their roles are and how their careers have evolved. You won’t be stumped when the question, “What do you know about us” comes along. Employers are researching you. Don’t give them the upper hand by failing to do your homework on them too.
    • Employers:Know your candidates online presence before asking them to meet. Oftentimes, a LinkedIn profile is a better resource for understanding a person’s background than a resume and what you find on various social media sites may surprise you.


  1. Understand YOU.
  • Candidates:The number one question asked in job interviews is, “Tell me about yourself.” Be prepared to tell your story in a way that connects to the employer’s problem. Spend time thinking of ways your background and career passions correlate to the open position as well as the company environment itself.
  • Employers:Today, job seekers are interviewing you too. Be ready to answer all their questions, giving them access to a comprehensive job description, a clear expectation of what the role entails, and a good idea of what they should expect from the interview process.


  1. Have questions ready.
  • Candidates:Have questions prepared to ask the hiring manager that demonstrate your interest and give you a better idea if the role is a good fit for you. A good example is, “If I was selected for this role, what are the top three goals you would expect me to accomplish within my first 90 days.” Avoid questions about money, benefits and hours, especially if it’s early in the interview process.
  • Employers:Remember that it’s not easy being in the hot seat. Try to put your candidates at ease and remind them to breathe.


  1. First impressions count.
  • Candidates:In our new normal economy, it’s more important than ever to dress professionally, remain positive, and pay attention to body language. Even the small things, such as remembering to bring multiple copies of your resume and sending a Thank You note afterwards make a huge difference.
  • Employers:Make sure that you are presenting your organization in the best light. Don’t forget, just as candidates need your seal of approval to be offered the job, you need theirs to accept it.


President and Founder of Career Reform Joan Graci is hosting a complimentary seminar for job seekers – Nail the Interview Process – at The Buffalo News Career Fest on Tuesday, September 22 at 12:00 p.m.


To reserve a seat, email our Event Coordinator, Alison –