Here's How To Stand Out On A Job InterviewGi Robin Williams

Robin Williams turns 60 on Thursday and I nearly died laughing watching the five minutes of his segment on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” — all before James Lipton got a chance to ask his first question (see video below — skip forward to 1:36).

I’ve written before about the importance of smiling on the phone, or psyching yourself up before an interview, or getting a mirror so you have someone to smile back at you while you’re talking.

The job hunt is stressful — interviews are stressful, phone calls are stressful, negotiations are stressful — and telling yourself “don’t be stressed!” doesn’t, for obvious reasons, work.

So getting a little help makes sense. Perhaps the antic “legalized insanity” of Robin Williams gets you to that good place where you’re at ease, laughing and feeling confident.

For me, it’s a Barton Hall ’77 Morning Dew. For you, it might be the poetry of Seamus Heaney or the ESPN’s Top 10 Touchdown Celebrations.

recognise that as a professional, your goal — your duty, really — is to make sure that you do everything professionally possible to ensure a great performance.

And when it comes to your performance on the job search, ensuring a great performance includes ensuring that you’ve got the performer in the right state of mind before the big phone screen, before the big interview, before meeting the future boss for lunch to put the final issues to bed.

So use a psych-up video, a face-melting guitar solo, or an awesome highlight reel to cut the tension and reduce the naturally occurring stress of the job search just a little bit and get the most out of your performer.

And I think the other thing to take away from the clip above is that we can’t all be Robin Williams, and we shouldn’t try.

Robin is such a natural loon. He is beautiful, bizarre, unique, singular: a national treasure. And when the role meets the man, we feel that something special has happened beyond the stars, that he creates constellations from our scrutiny.

If you were going up against Robin for an interview for a stand-up comedian slot, well, you wouldn’t get the job. And once you knew what the competition was like, you’d probably not feel quite so bad about being beaten out. (And when Robin went out for the “Old Dogs” or the “Patch Adams” audition, we probably wish somebody else had gotten the job instead of him!)

Similarly, you don’t know who else is going out for the job you’re interviewing for this week. Some roles are naturally you, and some roles will be off the mark. Maybe the company is looking for somebody more or less: experienced, brilliant, structured, spontaneous, logically precise, emotionally connected, big picture, get-it-done, or any of a number of other characteristics.

Thing is, you’ll never know.

And you’ll never quite know whether the job was going to play to your strengths the way improvisational comedy plays to Robin’s, or whether you’d have been the Old Dog in a miscast role.

You know, even Robin Williams can’t be Robin Williams in the wrong job.

So beating yourself up over not being picked, over not being the right one, over not being Robin Williams, is, well, kind of missing the point.

The job search is a search for the right role. And while you’ll just never know enough about the one that got away, the way to get ahead is to not worry about the lost chance to be something you’re not, but to put all your energies into finding the line that’s going to make you shine.

So a Happy, Happy 60th Birthday to Robin Williams this week, Readers, and here’s wishing a great week in the search to you!

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