How to ace a job interview and combat your nerves : Life Kit How should you prepare in advance for a job interview? We discuss what questions to prep for, how to choose an outfit you feel your best in, and what to do if you get nervous. Plus, we walk through a mock interview to model how to answer common questions.

A career coach unlocks the secret to acing your job interview and combating anxiety

A career coach unlocks the secret to acing your job interview and combating anxiety

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Watch the video above for job interview tips — including how to prepare, wardrobe advice, and strong answers to common interview questions.

The biggest misconception about interviewing for a job, is that you need to pretend to be someone that you're not, says Cynthia Pong, the founder and CEO of the career coaching and consulting firm Embrace Change.

Instead, she encourages folks to think about a job interview as a two-way experiment conducted to figure out if you're a good fit for the role — and to see if the company and the role are a good fit for you. With that mindset, "you're throwing the experiment if you go in with a fake version of yourself," says Pong.

To combat this tendency to overcompensate, Pong shares a helpful framework she picked up from the marketing world, which she calls "the composure triangle."

Here's how the three points of the composure triangle operate:

Gif showing the composure triangle with three points: collapse, posturing and composure

Collapse: Think of the lower two points, collapse and posturing, as a spectrum. On one side is "collapse." In this case, you're going into an interview with a subservient posture. For example, maybe you make some claims about your skills, but then you immediately downplay them. You're giving the interviewer all the power.

"Too often, we feel like, 'I don't have enough experience, or this company is just so prestigious.' Then we start sweating, and we forget that we have something important to offer," says Pong.

Posturing: The other end of the spectrum is "posturing." With posturing, you're puffed up, asserting dominance and acting like you know everything there is to know about the job and more.

"Most of us are bouncing back and forth on this spectrum between collapse and posturing at any given time," says Pong. Her advice is to get off of that spectrum completely and find a third place at the top of the triangle: composure.

Composure: In a posture of "composure" you're not trying to have power over the interviewer and you're not letting them have power over you. You are a person who has agency and power, and so is the interviewer. When you're anchored in composure, the interview is about assessing fit for both parties.

"It's a no-judgment situation," says Pong. "It's literally a problem-solving question. Is this a good fit? Is this a good match?"

For more job interview tips, including a role-play where Cynthia Pong and Life Kit host Marielle Segarra act out potential responses to common interview questions, watch the video at the top of the page or on YouTube.

Listen to the podcast episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


This video was directed by Iman Young; produced by Iman Young, Clare Marie Schneider and Beck Harlan; edited by Iman Young; filmed by Iman Young, Christina Shaman and Nickolai Hammar and animated by Kaz Fantone. Audio engineering support comes from Katherine Silva. Supervising editors are Meghan Keane and Nick Michael.

The audio portion of this episode was produced by Clare Marie Schneider. The story was adapted for digital by Beck Harlan and edited by Danielle Nett.