From interviewer to interviewee
Last week I was asked to sit on an interview panel for the first time.
I have always despised sitting for interviews, that is, being the one who is forced to answer questions about themselves. I find the process so fake and sterile, not to mention incredibly anxiety inducing. So I was curious to see what it was like from the other side. I wondered just how obvious an interviewees anxiety and discomfort might be to those on the other side of the table and thought about how I would feel if I saw someone struggling through an interview, as I have done through so many in recent years.
The interviewees were interviewing for a job as a residential advisor at a residential college, and thus, having done the role myself a number of years ago, I didn’t need to do much work to become familiar with both relevant interview questions and with what the role actually entailed (often frustratingly unrelated things in my experience)!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I much preferred being on the interviewer end of the interview dynamic. I found myself noticing a little bit of sadism or at least comfort that I myself took in sensing the power imbalance in the room between the candidate and the panel. It is, at least for me, much preferable to hold more power in any situation than to have your aspirations and emotions largely at the hands of others.
Having said that, I hope that my own negative interview experiences in the past, as well as the intense anxiety I feel about many interviews, made me a little more empathetic to those going through the experience than otherwise. I remember realising a few years ago that there (probably) isn’t going to be a time in my life where I will be ‘done’ with interviews or having to make my case to people with more authority, power and prestige than me. That is the basic structure of most institutions, and if you are driven to lead or make change in such institutions, there isn’t really much of a way around it.
As a result, I think seeing an interview process from the other side is a pretty valuable experience as I continue to build my own confidence as an interviewee.