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Common Interview Myths: You’re not powerless, you’re also interviewing them 2/3

Nervous in the Interview Hot Seat? Guess What, So Are They! Unraveling Myths & Power Dynamics in the Interview Room
Eduard Grubman

Sr. Solutions Software Engineer, Helix

Have you ever walked (or Signed On 😶‍🌫️) into an interview, feeling like a deer in headlights? That's a familiar feeling for most and a familiar feeling for me. I take this very personally; I've interviewed humble people who thought way too highly of themselves.


It's an all-too-familiar sensation where the question's weight bears down on you, and every second that goes by feels like a test you haven't prepared for.

While all these feelings feel real, reframing the thinking to help you succeed is essential.


What if I told you, in most cases, the person interviewing you could be just as nervous as you are interviewing them? Would you believe it?


This is an age-old scenario: a candidate enters, sits nervously, and answers each question, hoping to impress the interviewer. The interviewer tries to make sure they hire the right person, questioning themselves and if they're competent enough to know what a "right candidate even is".

But in reality, an interview is just as much an opportunity for you to evaluate the company as it is for them to assess you. You hold equal power, yes... regardless of your immediate situation, you do hold power in that interview session.

Myth: The interviewer holds all the power, and you're at their mercy

  • Fact: Each party plays a role in the interaction; learning how to navigate the dynamic conversation is essential. It's a deep red flag if you feel there is no space to contribute to the discussion.

Myth: You need to have all the answers

  • Fact: We've turned Google into a verb and helped GPT3/4 get a Million active users in 5 days. There isn't a single person who has all the answers; it's crucial to listen/digest/respond creatively.

Myth: It's just about securing the job, not determining if it is right for you.

  • Fact: This is a privileged place; not everyone is stable enough to have this luxury. There is a very deep need for people to establish a financial baseline; this takes work and time.

While it may seem like the interviewer is the gatekeeper to your dream job, remember that you also have the power to decide if this company, culture, and role align with your professional goals.

The balance of power is not as skewed as you might think.

Understanding the Power of Dynamic

This isn't a one-sided affair or Q&A session where you're spotlighted; it's a mutual evaluation where the interviewee and interviewer evaluate fit.

  • Note: Some interviewers are on a power trip, and this is fueling their ego. This isn't always easy to spot, but remember, if you do poorly in that interview, YOU HAVE VALUE AS A HUMAN BEING!

Recognizing this balance will empower you to show up confidently and as your true, unmasked self. Knowing you don't need to wear a mask to alleviate anxiety will improve your performance.

Nobody has the right to degrade, berate, or put you down in an interview; if you see/feel/hear this... feel free to hit end call.

[Don't forget to leave a Glassdoor review ;)]

Demystifying Interview Myths

Myth 1 - Power Imbalance:

Reality: Both parties are equally invested most of the time; there are moments when someone is thoroughly checked out. They want the candidate with the right fit as much as you want the proper role.

Application: The way to get around this will be to come prepared with questions and research what the company has been doing. This is a conversation, not a test!

  • If you want to challenge any interviewer, ask them what they're doing about something negative. [This shows that you're critical, will do your own research, and aren't afraid of reasonable confrontation] (Advanced Technique)

Myth 2 - Having All the Answers:

Reality: You will 100% encounter a behavioral/situational or technical question you will not know: It's okay; still breathing? Good.

  • What's crucial is your ability to learn, adapt, and handle uncertainty; here is where you'll show how you would solve this problem... even if you don't have a direct answer right now.

Application: When faced with a question you don't have a clue about how to answer, demonstrate your problem-solving approach by Starting to gather requirements to solve the problem, Who the stakeholders are, What the timeline is, etc.

  • This will show how fast and organized you can be when encountering a new problem. Just don't forget to breathe, please.

Myth 3 - Sole Objective:

Reality: When interviewing, there are two scenarios... well there are more, but I'm focusing on these 2.

  • I need money now, no shade... I've been there. My first job was $5/hr (below minimum wage). There are positions where this can/will happen; it's essential to evaluate the safety of a job and support your bare needs. As an aside, if you're here... please reach out; I'm happy to help for free. 
  • I want a job that's a fit; this means your core needs have been met, and you're at risk of financial challenges. Here, you're trying to ensure the job is a mutual fit to further your career goals.

How to Empower Yourself in an Interview

Example: Instead of answering “What’s your biggest weakness?” consider responding and flipping the question to understand how the company supports professional development.

  • If someone asks, “What’s your biggest weakness?" you can answer: My biggest weakness is -- something non-critical to the job --.
  • Frankly, if this is a question being asked... you're talking to a weak interviewer... it's a waste of space question.

Specific Actionable Steps:

  • Reflect on your values and growth, and create a winbook this will help you understand your value and worth.
  • Practice active listening (check out my last article) and engage in a two-way conversation.

                    Remember that the company's responses are as revealing as your own

Before your following interview, ponder on:

  • Have you researched the company culture?
  • Have you prepared questions that can also help you evaluate the company?
  • Do you have an idea who is interviewing you?
  • Do you have a cliff-notes of your experience?
  • Are you clear on what you're looking for in a job and company?

Remember, interviews can be intimidating, but you can reclaim your power by not giving in to common myths. It's a mutual fit search. While they're interviewing you, you’re also interviewing them.

** If I missed something here or something worth correcting, please contact me; I'm always happy to learn from new perspectives and experiences **

Stay empowered and happy hunting! – Ed

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