Interview Lessons from the Presidential Debates

Posted October 11, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

This evening marks the first vice presidential debate of the 2012 election season. And whether you like or dislike politics, like or dislike the candidates debating, or just don’t have anything else to watch, chances are you’ll find yourself watching the debate in some form – live or in recaps on Twitter, Facebook, and more.

Watching last week’s presidential debate, something occurred to me: We can learn something from these debaters. Not just about their politics or their ideas in the campaign, but about interviewing in general. Tonight, while you’re watching the debate, look for the interviewing tips you might just be able to glean from the men standing on stage:

  • Time limits mean something. Most debate formats allow for a two-minute response. There’s a reason for this. Two minutes is almost exactly the amount of time it takes to stop listening to someone. In job interviews, this time can shorten. Keep your answers to questions 60 seconds or less.
  • Don’t interrupt. You’ll get into some interviews where the interviewer talks more than the interviewee. Let them talk. It doesn’t mean it’s going badly, it just means they’re a talker. The last thing you want to be is the person who constantly interrupts them.
  • Get personal. It might have seemed awkward that Barack Obama wished Michelle a happy anniversary during the debate, but the same goes for job interviews. Let them get to know you, not just professionally but a little bit personally. Perhaps find time to talk about where you grew up and how long you’ve been living where you are. Let them see that you’re a good person, not just a good candidate.

Go ahead, watch the debates for interview tips! You never know what you might find.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."