What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Job Interviews
If you delayed your job search to watch Game of Thrones, don’t despair—the show actually contains near endless leadership lessons, many of which can help you to perform better in interviews (even if the gig you’re after isn’t ruler of the Seven Kings). Whether you’ve been a religious follower for years or only watched a casual episode here and there, the leaders of Westeros and beyond can help you hone your interview technique. Promise, no spoilers here.
Harness the power of soft skills
Game of Thrones is a story of relationships perhaps more than anything else—how those relationships begin, evolve, and even end. And the most successful characters are often the ones with fantastic relationship-building skills, who can gain trust and influence through words and interactions.
Consider Cersei, for example, who seemed to burn and rebuild bridges with each character at least a handful of times (often in the span of only one episode!). While hard to admit, she’s extremely charming, which played a significant role in keeping her alive through the seasons.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting you channel Cersei in your next interview. But do acknowledge the importance of soft skills and making a connection with each interviewer. After all, they’re not only evaluating you on your ability to do the job, but also considering whether you’d be a good person to work alongside. To begin with, think about physical cues like eye contact and body language, as well as small talk.
Know who you are, and own it
No character embraces this more than Tyrion Lannister, who is unabashedly himself regardless of the circumstance. And the strategy works in his favor, as he is forgiven for many transgressions because others trust him to be reliable in his ways—even if those ways include excessive drinking and other questionable behaviors.
In interviews—and in your career in general—it’s important to stay true to yourself for a number of reasons. To begin with, most of us are pretty terrible at pretending, and any attempt to appear otherwise can come off as discomfort or inauthenticity. Further, remember the greater context: The interview is just the first step in what might be a long-term relationship with an employer. If a company doesn’t think the real you fits with their culture, it’s probably not where you should accept a job in the first place.
Don’t underestimate yourself
While no character is perfect, Arya does a great job of balancing assertiveness with humility, despite many setbacks along her journey. Being one of the younger protagonists, she might have otherwise faded into the background, but her relentless self-confidence and belief that she could do anything often pushed her to succeed against the odds.
The same applies at work, and even more so in interviews. If you underestimate your abilities, so will your interviewer—particularly as other candidates you’re being compared to will likely be overstating their own skills.
Even if you aren’t an expert in every skill listed on the job posting (realistically, nobody is), focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses: Highlighting the areas where you are an expert will not only build the interviewer’s trust in your abilities, but also give you the necessary confidence that you’ll be great at the job. If you’re specifically asked about areas of weakness, be transparent about your abilities, but position them as learning and growth opportunities rather than pitfalls.
It’s about the journey, not the outcome
It’s no secret that many (most?) Game of Thrones fans are disappointed with how the series ended, having enjoyed seven glorious seasons only to feel cheated out of the last one. But the reality is that those previous seasons provided significant (entertainment) value to tens of millions of people, and a less-than-extraordinary ending doesn’t discredit the previous seasons.
When it comes to interviews, there’s no doubt that landing the job is a great outcome. But it’s far from the only thing you should be looking to get out of it. Think of the interview process as a learning experience rather than the means to an end—it’ll not only make the journey more enjoyable, but also leave you a better interviewee than when you started.