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Cognitive Load

1 June 2023

Don't bring new learning to a Job Interview.

It is dangerous to think you will remember, and be able to coherently present, new information in a job interview.  Dangerous because it places a heavy cognitive load on your working memory, and you need all your working memory to simply present what you already know.

Working memory is a limited resource that is easily depleted.  The types of things that deplete your working memory are emotional situations (hello interview) and when you are doing something you rarely do (few of us do interviews every day).  

When working memory gets full it has two options:

  • Send stuff to long term memory
  • Forget stuff

Transferring information into long term memory (i.e. learning) takes effort, so in the emotion charged context of a job interview your working memory will wisely choose option 2 and forget the new stuff.  

Please don't waste precious preparation time prior to an interview trying to learn and remember new stuff like buzz words, statistics, random facts from annual reports, names of strangers, lists of facts.  Instead remind yourself of all the things that you already know and have expertise in.

Also remember that you are good at your job, that you have oodles of potential, that you have lots of room to grow and develop, and that you have personal values that make you a good person.

As always, wishing you a flourish career.


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