The Interview is Not a One-Way Street

With the job market being what it is, it can sometimes feel as though a job interview is a do-or-die moment; the economy is so unstable that that one interview may feel like the only thing that’s come along (or that’s going to come along) for ages. That kind of pressure to impress someone never ends up feeling good. question marksLuckily, Emily recently wrote a great post with genuinely useful tips to help you ace an interview. And today, I am going to impart some interview wisdom of my own by sharing a fact that is very easily forgotten (but which makes a world of difference). It’s the kind of knowledge you want to have upon entering any interview.  What is it?

The interview is as much a tool for you to get to know your potential employer as it is a tool for them.

Simple, right? And yet, it’s the sort of thing I’ve forgotten upon entering many an interview, and my experiences have suffered as a result. Understanding that you are not just being evaluated, but also getting a chance to evaluate the way in which a person or a company measures up to the standards you have set for yourself professionally can really help you establish what you are looking for your workplace to offer, and enable you to determine when you have or haven’t found it.

Below, some tips for getting the most out of your interview:

  1. Remember that getting the interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job. Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you’re not thrilled with the way the interview went, you can always decline an offer if it’s extended.
  2. The questions you ask during the interview should be questions you genuinely want to know the answers to. Preparing these goes along with researching the company. If you are really interested in working there, there will probably be at least one thing you want to know.
  3. Pay attention to the way you’re being treated by the interviewer. I’ve had interviews in which I felt I was being somewhat belittled. If I’d taken the time to remind myself that this was also an opportunity for me to get to know my potential work environment, I would have excused myself rather than sit through the entire thing.
  4. Keep in mind that this is a use of your time as well as the interviewer’s. This goes along with my point above. If you feel like you’ve already learned all you need to know in the first five minutes of the interview, you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay just because the interviewer may not know you yet. If you’ve determined this is not the job for you, don’t waste your time.
  5. Be yourself. Tried and true, and most likely a cliché by this point. But the fact is that if you don’t act like yourself, you won’t end up getting what you want in the situation. Be honest with yourself about what you need in a new job, and if you do think you might have to compromise, make sure you’ve thought long and hard about what you’re doing.
Any more tips to help turn an interview into a mutually beneficial experience?


By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at

2 replies on “The Interview is Not a One-Way Street”

6) Remember that they need you, maybe just as badly as you need them. If you can surreptitiously find this out before or during the interview, you can think accordingly. If they’re replacing someone, it’s because someone left or was terminated and they chose not to spread those duties out to other employees. If the company is trying to expand or is hiring more staff to keep up with demand, they need a new brain and a new body and they might not have even decided entirely how you’ll fit in. These days, no one is hiring on a whim- if they’re taking the time to interview it’s because there’s a need. Getting a good grasp on what they really need (it’s not always exactly what’s written in the advert) can help shape the whole interview.

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