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

Steve Jobs. His legendary status as a successful visionary, entrepreneur and technology pioneer have 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 horrible failures) 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 when you are at your calmest, is 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 stand being stuck 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”:

  1. 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 either 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”)
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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 nvisioned in the first place.  Good luck!


  1. Beverly on January 17, 2013 at 11:44 am

    It’s amazing what can actually make or break your chances of a successful interview. As a graduate, I failed an interview simply because I seemed to touch my face too often, as though I was overly nervous.