Recently had an interview in which I didn't gave my 100 percent, it was failure but I am not new to it. But this time something different happened I was shaking from inside, and negative thoughts about myself were coming spontaneously even if I didn't want them. It seems like I am not able to live upto my full potential. Something is dragging me from inside, what is it? Is this explained in Buddhism? Is there any name to this condition?

4 Answers 4


In my opinion the essential characteristic -- which is also a Buddhist virtue or precept -- of a job interview, is truthfulness.

If I interview someone it's because I decided, based on their resume, that they can do job and that I'd want to hire them if possible. The purpose of the interview, then, is to see:

  • Were they telling the truth in their resume? I assume most people do, but job applicants (specifically) sometimes don't. So I ask them about their experience, to see whether what they're able to talk about seems to match the experience described in their resume.

  • Do we understand each other?

  • Do they want this job?

When applying for a job, I read the advertisement. If I have the experience they're asking for then I might apply, otherwise not. I wouldn't like -- I'd be ashamed -- to be in a situation where they hired me and soon discovered that I'd been lying. There's a lot to learn when starting a new job, but there are things which, as a "senior" who's already experienced, I ought to know already.

This gives me confidence in an interview, and when I start the job. I figure I just need to go to the interview and say:

  • Sure, I could do this job. After all I have done similar work with previous companies.
  • Sure, I would like to work with you. What work do you want to give me, how could I help?

Recently had an interview in which I didn't gave my 100 percent

Maybe I often give only 50%, hoping to "meet people half-way". An interview is a dialog, not a monolog. The work itself may require a lot of solo effort, working alone, but the interview is for questions:

  • Are they telling the truth?
  • Do we understand each other?
  • Do I want to work with them doing this?

I was shaking from inside

I don't know, maybe the interview correctly/successfully told you that you weren't comfortable with that job or with those people.

negative thoughts about myself

I don't have those much, instead I'm confident based on past experience.

I once told myself, "There are people who are smarter than me; people who know more; and people who work harder -- but not all three -- and none of them are here!"

One thing that might help is to treat the interview as if it's your first hour of work -- so ask questions about the work they want to give you, and answer their questions (because answering their questions is also part of the job). If you've experience with working but a lot less experience with interviews -- which most people have -- perhaps you'd be more comfortable treating the interview as work, and communicating as you would normally with the colleagues you work with.

  • Were they telling the truth...yes, I find this to be a problem especially in the IT industry. It seems like honesty is a liability instead.
    – Desmon
    Commented Jan 21 at 11:26
  • In the industry...do you mean "at work", or "in interviews"? Also it may be unfortunately normal to make wrong/mistaken predictions about the future, e.g. to over-optimistically under-estimate the effort and details required to finish a project -- I'm not sure whether that's what you mean by "dishonest"?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 21 at 11:51
  • In interviews, at work and in projects...at least this is from my observations over the years. Perhaps, this tendency to oversell one's ability is the only way to shine in a highly competitive environment.
    – Desmon
    Commented Jan 21 at 14:37
  • 1
    Well I'm not competing for a promotion, so perhaps I'm lucky. Also my work with (short-lived) startups suggests that "job security" comes from being "cooperative" (not "competitive") -- e.g. when everyone is laid off, your former colleagues find new jobs, and then want to invite/recommend you to join them.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 21 at 15:38

I once interviewed a fresh graduate, for a vacant position in my company.

She was very nervous and afraid of failing in the interview. She was virtually shaking from the inside too.

I told her, "Why are you so nervous? What's the worst thing that could happen if you try your best and don't do well in this interview? You don't get this job. That's all. There certainly are other job openings for fresh graduates for your degree in this company and other companies. Even if you do get this job, but if it doesn't match your skills and interests, you would be struggling and become miserable. So, it is best for you to find a job where your skills and knowledge matches the prerequisites for the job, the job matches your personal interests, and the company culture matches your personal culture. The job seeker and the employer are both seeking a win-win situation."

When she heard that, she was instantly put at ease. She started to think, "what's the worst that could happen? I don't get this job. That's all. There are other interviews and other positions."

In Buddhism, this about letting go of your attachments/ clinging.

Ven. Ajahn Brahm has some nice YouTube talks on the subject, including "Relax. Everything's out of control!".

Also useful, is the analogy of the South Indian Monkey Trap.

As you get deeper into the study of the suttas, you will find that it has something to do with this sutta:

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, suppose there was a mountain river sweeping downwards, flowing into the distance with a swift current. If on either bank of the river kasa grass or kusa grass were to grow, it would overhang it; if rushes, reeds, or trees were to grow, they would overhang it. If a man being carried along by the current should grasp the kasa grass, it would break off and he would thereby meet with calamity and disaster; if he should grasp the kusa grass, it would break off and he would thereby meet with calamity and disaster; if he should grasp the rushes, reeds, or trees, they would break off and he would thereby meet with calamity and disaster.

“So too, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling … regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. That form of his disintegrates and he thereby meets with calamity and disaster. He regards feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That consciousness of his disintegrates and he thereby meets with calamity and disaster.

“What do you think, bhikkhus, is form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”…—“Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’”
SN 22.93


It seems that you are trying to protect your prestige. You are worried that your pride might get hurt. You are worried that what will your family think about failure or what your friends will think about it. Or you are worried about your future. You are attached to your social image. You are attached to the typical lifestyle which people follow these days. Deep down you are seeking financial security. You want to shield yourself from the wrath of poverty.

Nervousness and anxieties are bound to manifest if you are protecting yourself from poverty because no one can guarantee you the financial security.

If you look at it properly then you will see that even the big companies and very rich people can become bankrupt. Recently the writer of the famous book “Rich Dad and Poor Dad” , Robert Kiyosaki , found himself in a debt of $1 billion.

You should give up all your worries about the financial security or social image. You should focus on your immediate goals. If your goal is Nibbana then this is right place for you to follow the Nobel 8 fold path. But if you have financial goals or social goals then you should seek professional help. Professional career guidance can help you better to streamline your thought processes and career goals.


The Pali scriptures (DN 31) say employees should be given work according to their capacity/abilities. Therefore, we should apply for jobs that are according to our capacity/abilities.

The same Pali scripture says employers need/depend on employees. If there are no employees, employers/businesses cannot earn money. Therefore, we should have faith that there is an employer that needs our services; and often these employers are not seeking 'perfection' because their need for employees is greater.

Your experience sounds like a lack of confidence, i.e., a lack of trust or faith. You should develop more trust in the goodwill of the prospective employer.

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