Failing in your job interviews? It may be all in your mind…


About nine years ago before I embarked on my media career, I had a job as a part time library assistant, serving several libraries in the East London borough.

I learnt a valuable lesson about interviews during my time as a library assistant

A year into the job, a vacancy came up for a Saturday Library Supervisor position with considerably more pay, so of course I applied for it and I got shortlisted for interview.

Prior to attending the interview, I remember feeling quite nervous about whether or not I would get the job and I shared this with my manager at the time (the post was for a different branch) and he said something to me I’ve never forgotten since.

He said, “Mildred, when you’re called in for an interview, it means they want to give you the job – they are on YOUR side! Remember this when you get in there.” Well I did remember those wise words and I’m pleased to say I walked in to the interview and walked out with the job!

Looking back on this experience today, I can’t help but think that my new positive mindset at the time may have had something to do with me getting the job. For this week’s blog, I decided to ask Margaret Buj, interview expert and coach, how much of a part your mind plays in deciding whether or not you succeed at a job interview.

Here’s what she had to say:

[Guest post by Margaret Buj]

A tale of Claire and Ellen

Imagine this scenario: two equally qualified candidates apply for the same job – we’ll call one Ellen and the other Claire – and both are invited for an interview.

Claire has applied for a number of jobs but her self-esteem is low. She considers herself a failure and unworthy of success and believes that the other applicants are better and more qualified than her, even though her CV looks fantastic. She has had negative past experiences with job interviews therefore she is sure she isn’t going to get this job.

Displaying a negative mindset during an interview may cost you the job

The week before the interview, Claire’s mind is filled with negative thoughts and fears concerning the job. She arrives at the interview hungry because she got up late and did not have enough time to eat breakfast. She is tense and distracted and finds it difficult to focus on the interview which gives a bad impression to the interviewer.

Ellen applied for the same job too but approached the matter in a different way. She was sure that she was going to get the job. During the week preceding the interview, she often visualised herself making a good impression and getting the job. Of course, she spent time preparing her interview answers and researching the company as well.

In the evening before the interview she prepared the clothes she was going to wear and went to sleep a little earlier. On the day of the interview she woke up earlier than usual and had ample time to eat breakfast and arrive to the interview before the scheduled time.

At the end of the interviews, Ellen got the job and Claire got rejected.

A winning mindset?

Of course, Ellen may have slightly more relevant experience, be a better ‘cultural fit’ to the company, or simply gave better interview answers than Claire, but perhaps Ellen’s mental approach to the interview may have been the deciding factor in her getting the job.

When we have a positive attitude and expect good things to happen to us, they are so much more likely to happen. People sense our aura and are affected by our thoughts, and vice versa.

The interviewer is on your side – they WANT to give you the job!

It is normal to feel a little bit nervous before the interview, but to beat the anxiety and negative thoughts, you may need to completely change your mindset around interviews. Most people associate interviews with an intense period of questioning which allows the employer to make a decision as to their suitability to do the job. However, the interview is also an opportunity to find out if this company is the right place for you. Once you adopt this mindset, you will regain the feeling of control that is often lost as soon as people enter the interview room.

A lot of jobseekers think that the interviewer is only waiting to catch them out on something they don’t know so that they have a reason not to hire them. However, having worked in recruitment for eight years now, I can assure you that the interviewer is absolutely on your side and all they are looking for is an excuse to give you the job!

Interviewing is a time-consuming process and every time a candidate walks through the door, the interviewer is hoping they’ll be the right one. If you attack every interview with this mental approach – believing that the interviewer wants you to succeed – you’re going to be more positive, enthusiastic and have more success.

About the author: Margaret Buj is an Interview & Career Promotion Coach who helps professionals to promote and market themselves more effectively during job interviews. To find out more about how one-to-one interview coaching sessions can help you get a job and to download Margaret’s free ‘How to win at job interviews’ e-course, visit


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  • Natalie Jones

    Great post from Margaret! I never forget someone telling me that an interview is a chance for the candidate to “interview” the prospective employer as much as it is for the interviewer to find out about the candidate. It is the candidate’s chance to find out more about the job, the prevailing culture and to get a feel for the people they could be working with. Since realising that interviews are a two way street, I have become considerably less nervous in interviews. I say to myself: this interview is a chance to see if they are right for me as much as it about them seeing if I am right for their organisation. I do think mindset can make a difference and having that confidence that comes from knowing that interviewers want to see candidates because they are interested in what they have to offer and want them to do well in the interview has certainly helped me!