The Importance of Interviews

Having recently been interviewed on independent web variety station www.thatchannel.com, I was reminded of the importance of interviews. I have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed (and interviewed others) in different scenarios: as a white-collar worker, as a music artist and as a regular fellow in different social situations. In my experience, therefore, I have been led to believe that there are three categories for interviews:

1. Job: the stereotypical interview for employment or to join an organization;
2. Media: not just for celebrities — think about casual street passersby for news sources or interviews for leaders in not-for-profits, communities, businesses or politics;
3. Life: like on a first date or when you meet new people.

In my professional and non-professional opinion, I believe that all three are important because they can indicate how solidly we know ourselves – inside and out. Other people will sense this even when they’re not trying to. If we interview well, it can lead to business opportunities or social opportunities.

I think I did okay in the interview above – I was relaxed, tried to steer any heaviness to lighter territory, didn’t stumble too much, but did offer too many “umms” and wandering responses. Forgivable, but what does this have to do with knowing myself?

If we know ourselves, we should be able to communicate whatever lies within us easily and authentically.

A person’s ability to summarize information succinctly and clearly for any recipient, while supporting the process in the other direction is a sign of a good communicator. I’ve read plenty of success-oriented books and articles over the years where authors have argued how a strong command of communication can help anybody succeed in any realm. A general communicating with his troops, a CEO communicating with his associates, an entertainer communicating with his audience – it’s likely that most leaders in the world would not be in their positions without very good communication skills.

I have greatly enjoyed interviewing on both sides of the proverbial table. It’s like a game of chess with many options to think about at any given moment, but a winner or a loser are not always required. Since the thinking required for interviewing can also be compared to a muscle, similarly, you can build it with practice. If I had done an interview the day after the one shown above, all things remaining equal, I know it would have been better thanks to a recently friendly game of chess and some muscle memory.

PS: Role-playing for interviews in my opinion is the best way to get better (other than doing interviews for real). Find a friend or family member who can role-play with you.