Steve Jobs succeeded by failing – Your job interview should be no different

By Guest Author on January 03, 2013

Steve Jobs. His legendary status as a successful visionary, entrepreneur and technology pioneer has inspired countless tributes, articles and testimonials since his untimely passing.  Just a quick Google search shows what has been written about his success.  He is also being commended for how much he actually embraced failure.

The Washington Post, “How we succeed by failing”, on October 14, 2011, gives an overview of how Steve Jobs failed (sometimes failing horribly) and yet found ways to channel that failure into success. His relationship with Pixar Animation Studios, which made him billions, only came after he was fired by the company he co-founded.

Your inner Steve Jobs can teach you a great deal about how to approach an interview.  Whether you are in a mid-career transition, out of work for an extended period of time, or looking for that first job, how you deal with your fear of failure is essential to a successful interview.  No doubt that when you are at your calmest is when you can do your best job interpreting the questions you are asked, and giving a thoughtful response. Additionally, when you are calm, your real professional personality can shine through, so you can pass that ever important “airport test.” (i.e. Could I stuck standing in an airport with you for an extended period of time?)

Here are some thoughts on how to deal with the “fear of the interview”:

  • Always Be Interviewing – The best preparation for interviewing is to put yourself in the situation via a mock interview. Instead of a friend or family member to conduct the mock interview (they may lack objectivity or actual hiring experience), you should seek out either a hiring manager or recruiter who does this for a living.  Depending on your current situation, the easiest way to obtain this mock interview would be though your alumni career services office, career center or local unemployment office. Make sure to use an example employer that is on your target list. (see Procter & Gamble and a focused job search: Don’t be willing to “do anything”)

  • Practice Building a Successful Scenario – Whether you have an upcoming interview or not, you should block 15-20 minutes a day to “interview.”  Put yourself in the situation and play out the interview in your mind.  With this daily interview, you will have built out the scenario so many times, that by the time the “real” interview takes place, you will have the right mindset for the big day.

  • Ask for feedback if you don’t get the offer – This is a part of the interview process too.  Unfortunately, we don’t get all jobs we interview for, even though we think we have performed well in the interview. While not all employers do this, you would be surprised by the number who will give honest feedback on your performance (I once asked for feedback and was told I was too fidgety and it distracted from the entire interview.)  This is a great opportunity to improve your approach for the next interview.

  • I encourage you to channel your “inner Steve Jobs” in your next interview.  How you accept failure as part of the process could take you to places you never envisioned in the first place.  Good luck!

    About Jason Levin

    Jason Levin founded Ready, Set, Launch, LLC,, after a 15-year career in brand management at Unilever, consulting at Accenture and employer branding at  Career and outplacement coaching is his passion. He works with clients who are late in their careers, in mid-career transition, reentering the workforce or just graduating from undergraduate or graduate school.  He helps his clients land that next job, get a promotion, make a career change or transition into retirement. Jason has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Money, Fortune, and MarketWatch on career related articles. Jason received his MBA from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in 2006.

    Found in Career Networks, Jobseekers