Create Empowered Interviews

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

During a recent R|L staff meeting we were discussing some of the factors that lead to interview disintegration. You know the interviews—ones that are seemingly going well until Bombthey blow up.

Three highlights that we discussed were that the interviewee:

  • doesn’t answer questions in a succinct and credible manner;
  • talks incessantly about him- or herself;
  • doesn’t ask relevant questions.

The common thread among the three is that an interviewee needs to be other-focused. But before becoming other-focused, we all need to break the habit of being self-focused.

Yes, you are in an interview to “sell” yourself, but unless you manage the interview as a conversation, building the relationship, the interviewer will zone out. It is hard to have a conversation with someone who talks at you versus being engaged with you. It is impossible to be memorable if the interviewer has lost interest – and worse – finds you irrelevant.

Is the interviewer engaged with you or are they just going through the motions? If they don’t seem to be curious about you, this is an especially clear indicator that you need to turn the meeting around and become other-focused.

Instead of asking: What can Company X do for me? Ask: How can I contribute to the company’s growth and profitability? How well will my knowledge, skills, and experience directly contribute to a significant ROI? How have I seamlessly integrated into new organizations, previously, while developing widespread endorsement?

Listen more than you speak. Ask more than you tell. Observe not just what you say, but how you say it. Know the truth about your competencies, strengths, and achievements so you can be more planful in guiding the course of your career success. Be aware of your unintended impact on others. Remember: most derailing interviews can be turned around if you are interpersonally agile. Pay attention to any shifts that need to occur.


  • What are your beliefs about interacting with others that lead you to not listen and to over-verbalize?
  • What are the pros and cons of solely being self-focused? Other-focused?
  • If you never change your behavior, what might your career and life look like: in 12 months? 24 months? 36 months?
  • If you do change your behavior, what might your career and life look like: in 12 months? 24 months? 36 months?
  • When was the last time that you felt powerful, confident, and self-assured in a role? What were your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during that time? What was unique about that time? 
  • NOW – go out and let your bold, confident, and courageous self emerge!

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