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The Imposter in the Interview

Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome? This occurs when a person constantly doubts his/her achievements and feels like a fraud. If you’re anything like me, you may have directly experienced this in your life. During my Ph.D. program, I had moments where I fully expected a senior professor to knock on the door and tell me that they discovered a mistake in my transcript or GMAT score and that I was clearly not capable of doing the job.

In other words, I sometimes felt like an imposter. Was I doing well in my program? Yes! I published an article in our field’s top journal while still in graduate school. Even as a doctoral student, my teaching evaluations were some of the highest in my department.

So why did I feel like a phony sometimes?

Imposter Syndrome occurs when a person, despite their accomplishments, …”persists in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise” (p. 1; Clance & Imes, 1978). Furthermore, continued achievement doesn’t always reduce the feelings of being a fraud. Many knowledge workers, especially young ones, feel the effects of Imposter Syndrome, and it is surprisingly rampant in graduate programs.

For many, mentoring and the right workplace culture can help a person overcome Imposter Syndrome. It’s been many years since I felt like an imposter, but not everyone is so lucky.

One place Imposter Syndrome can rear its ugly and harmful head is in the job interview. Capable, competent, confident applicants can suddenly feel overwhelmed and fraudulent in an interview, particularly one with highly experienced interviewers. This is especially true for the Millennial Generation, as you can see in this great article from on the topic.

So what should you do if you have an interview coming up and you’re not feeling super confident in your achievements? One way to confront Imposter Syndrome and ensure you’re prepared is to try personalized interview preparation and coaching. Interview coaching can help reinforce what you do well and also improve the things that could be better. More than that, a good coach can help you build your self-assurance.

Want to learn more? Visit my website at to see what Personalized Interview Coaching can do for you.


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