Dear Liz,

I’m frustrated because I can get job interviews, but I can’t get a job.

So far I’ve been told “You interview very well” several times but I haven’t received a job offer yet. I don’t always make it to the second round of interviews, either.

I asked a friend of my husband’s who is an HR person to give me a practice interview and she was kind enough to do so.

Her feedback after our mock interview was “In the mock interview, you were very distant and reserved. You can speak up and share your opinions.”

I believe her and I want to bring out more of my personality on job interviews, but when I sit in the chair I get nervous and go into my standard “good girl” script.

How can I break out of the script to get the job I deserve?

Thanks Liz!



Dear Maya,

Most people can relate to your frustration! This is a very common interview problem.

A job interview is a formal and scripted social situation. Once we’ve learned the standard script it can be hard to break away from it.

A good starting place is to remember that your goal in the interview is not to get a passing grade. You are not in school.

Your job is not to answer the interviewer’s questions “correctly.” There is no correct answer to most interview questions!

The less your interviewer has to think during your conversation, the more likely they’ll forget having met you 10 minutes after you’re out the door!

Your goal is to stand out, not blend into the wallpaper. Way too many job-seekers go to a job interview ready to be the meekest, mildest, most agreeable job applicant the world has ever seen. That is a losing strategy!

Here’s an example of a forgettable job applicant (Maya One) answering an interview question versus a less-easily-forgettable applicant, Maya Two, answering the same question.

Interviewer: So Maya, you’ve worked in Accounts Receivable but you haven’t worked in Accounts Payable. This is an Accounts Payable job. How would you approach this job in a new area, if you were hired?

Maya One: I’m sure I will pick everything up quickly, because I’m a fast learner and a hard worker.

End of Script

Maya One gave a stock answer that falls flat.

Anybody could say “I’m a fast learner and a hard worker.”

Maya One gave the standard, forgettable and not-especially-credible answer to the question she was asked.

Why would the interviewer be convinced that Maya One understands anything about Accounts Payable or has the capacity to learn it?

There was no hint of Maya One’s intelligence, pluck or personality in her answer.

Maya Two did something before her interview that Maya One did not do.

Maya Two anticipated the question “Why should we hire you into a job you haven’t done before?”

She’s ready for the question!

Interviewer: So Maya, you’ve worked in Accounts Receivable but you haven’t worked in Accounts Payable. This is an Accounts Payable job. How would you approach this job in a new area, if you were hired?

Maya Two: In my current job, I work closely with my Accounts Payable co-workers because I’m interested in vendor relations, expense reporting and the expense side of the business in general. I must have asked my co-workers a thousand questions about how A/P works.

I hoped my employer would have an opportunity for me in A/P and I waited over a year for that to happen, but there were no job openings. That’s why I’m job-hunting now. I’m very familiar with A/P practices and reports –please feel free to ask me anything about A/P, one of my favorite topics!

End of Script

Don’t put pressure on yourself to slip effortlessly into Maya Two’s confident, story-telling approach to interviewing the first time you try it.

Like every new skill, interviewing with your own voice takes practice.

The good news is that you are aware you’re hiding your brilliance and sparkling personality under a bushel right now.

Starting with your next interview, you will practice lifting the bushel and letting your light shine!

Here are three tips:

• Make a  list of the interview questions you hear most often and think through your answers to each question. Whenever you can tell a quick story the way Maya Two did in the script above, do it!

• Ask yourself “What makes me a great hire for this position?” Whatever that key element is — your passion for Accounts Payable, your experience creating smarter procedures or something else — that’s what you must get across at the interview.

• Resist the temptation to get out of your body during the interview and evaluate your own “performance.” One way to stay in your body is to focus on your breathing whenever your mind starts racing. If it’s hard to concentrate on the interviewer’s words, repeat them to yourself  in your head as he or she speaks. Don’t start forming your answer to any question while the interviewer is still speaking. Listen intently to the question, pause for a breath and don’t speak until you are solidly in your body.

Keep in mind that not everyone will like your brand of jazz. That’s okay, because not every organization or every manager deserves your talents anyway. Only the people who get you, deserve you!

All the best,


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