A Great Interview (For a Job I Didn’t Get)

By Dan Moseson, Ph.D., CPDC Graduate Career Coach

Our CPDC blog is called Peaks and Valleys because the job search process has natural ups and downs. Like a trail up a mountain, there will be wide, smooth paths with beautiful vistas. There will also be steep rock-falls you’re not sure how to navigate while keeping your ankles intact. There will even be times when you fall down, fail, or need to turn around. There may even be moose. Don’t provoke them.

My career has worked the same way. My biggest false start was an interview for a job I really wanted. I put my all into preparing for the day to perform at my best, and in the end, I didn’t get the job. However, I still think of it as one of the most valuable experiences of my career. It taught me a lot about myself and helped me identify what I needed to do to up my game for future interviews.

Below is a summary of what I learned from this interview:

  • Thoroughly read the job posting…multiple times
    After my interview, I finally understood how important it is to identify an employer’s specific needs from their job posting and determine how my accomplishments matched them.
  • Learn how to write a successful cover letter and resume
    At the time, I learned how important it is to articulate your accomplishments in your resume and cover letter so you show the employer clear evidence of how you would do the job well and add value to the role.
  • Learn how to prepare for an interview
    Be sure to study the organization, learn about and take notes on everyone you may meet and prepare questions for each of them, hone your presentation, and prepare to dress professionally.
  • Learn how to answer different types of interview questions
    This interview was the first time I realized I needed to be prepared to answer behavioral questions, which are very common in interviews. Make sure you prepare for them!
  • Prepare to experience a full-day interview, with everything on the line
    Experiencing this full-day interview was so enlightening! I’ve never felt so in-the-moment, ready, and engaged. It showed me a new version of who I can be in an interview setting.
  • Trust that you can still perform at 110% under less than ideal circumstances
    I didn’t sleep the night before (or much the night before that), and still performed at my best (…until about the 7th meeting). This was a major confidence boost!
  • Accept that you can give it your all, not achieve your goal, and still feel good about yourself
    While I didn’t get the job, I was still thrilled and enlightened by the experience. I now know how to interview. I know what I can really do under pressure. And I know enough now so I can help others prepare as their Career Coach!

I hope these lessons will help you better prepare for future interviews, as they have since helped me. For additional support preparing for interviews, meet with a Career Coach.