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Building an antifragile interview mindset

Building an antifragile interview mindset

Lessons from failed interviews and moving on

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Sreejit De
·Aug 22, 2022·

4 min read

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Table of contents

  • Why am I writing this?
  • Lessons from failed interviews
  • Moving on

I'll start this blog about lessons from failed interviews and dealing with rejections with a tweet I remember from Akshay:

Why am I writing this?

We live in the era where our LinkedIn feeds are full of posts like "after getting an offer from X,Y & Z company and careful consideration, I moved ahead with Z..." I recently went through a phase where I kept seeing such posts flood my timeline after I had just failed in an interview. Very few people share their stories of failed interviews, but I think it's important that we normalize failing interviews, talk more about rejections, share learnings and help others on dealing with rejections. After my recent experience, I feel I'm in a place to share my thoughts about failed interviews, lessons from them, and moving on to the next one.

Lessons from failed interviews

Let's face it, rejections are hard, and we all have our own ways of dealing with it. I think it's important that we build a mindset for dealing with failed interviews, and focus on the learnings rather than the missed opportunities. In the next few points, I'll share my learnings from rejections and how I used those as an approach for building my mindset for dealing with interviews and rejections better.

It is not the end of the opportunities

Our coping up mindset when we fail an interview depends largely on the situation. If someone is having a series of interviews lined up or going through a campus placement, this point might already be very evident.

However, we might always feel that the interview we just failed was the best opportunity for us, and we have missed it, therefore letting ourselves down. But, in reality, that is rarely the case. If we are being consistent in our efforts towards learning and improving, it won't take long before the next opportunity arrives. We just need to prepare ourselves better so that we can grab that opportunity.

We need to constantly remind ourselves, there is always a next time. And there's a high chance, that will be an even better one!

Managing our expectations

I think it comes from human nature that, as we go through stages of the interview process, we normally start associating ourselves more and more with that company, that role and other related stuff. We start picturing ourself in that position. There's nothing wrong in that, except that we'll feel even more shattered if that interview somehow results in a rejection. Imagine the pain of a rejection in the last round? This thread on twitter talks about the same -

Therefore, it's important that we start managing our expectations and refrain from telling ourselves stories (both good and bad). It's natural to be excited about the opportunities we get, but not getting ahead of ourselves and keeping our expectations and thoughts in check will definitely improve our coping up mindset.

Getting a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses

Enough talk about how to deal with failed interviews and look forward with hope. Let's move on to something better.

The concept of antifragility talks about getting better from setbacks. In an interview perspective, this simply means - improving ourselves from a failed interview. Now, every interview experience is unique and it teaches us something(s). Our mindset must also follow an approach where we learn and improve from any interview. I'll state my own practice:

  • While appearing for any interview, I generally keep a notebook right by my side.
  • Before the interview, I generally write down stuff like the round details, and the questions I'd like to ask the interviewer. (Of course, I ask some follow-up questions too!)
  • Once the interview is over, I write about my experience during the interview, the questions or concepts discussed, new concepts I learned, questions I couldn't answer well etc.

From these notes, I get a good understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I always try to learn about concepts I couldn't answer on in an interview before the next one. (My own philosophy is that just like we shouldn't repeat the same mistakes, we shouldn't fail to answer the same question twice) I also learn more about what the interviewer is looking for, and what else I could do better (not just from a technical p.o.v).

Now, this exact same approach might not work for others, but we should make sure to spot our strengths and weaknesses from any interview. Then, improve on the weaknesses. Repeat this cycle irrespective of how good or bad we do in an interview.

This idea is core to an antifragile interview mindset - learning and improving from any interview we ever give.

Moving on

We all must be very familiar with the phrase -

You win, or you learn.

The best way to deal with setbacks in life is remembering the learnings and moving on. This is easier said than done, but it will really be easier to deal with failed interviews once we build a proper interview mindset. The only value of setbacks is in the learnings.

We should keep putting in the consistent efforts in order to improve with the learnings from failed interviews, and prepare ourselves for grabbing the next available opportunity, which will soon come our way !

Until next time!

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