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What if you interviewed for a job like Palin did with Couric?

September 29, 2008 5:30 PM

Partisan politics aside, Sarah Palin received low marks across the board for her performance in an interview with Katie Couric last week. Chances are very strong that if you or I had exhibited some of the same traits during a job interview, we would have been knocked out of the running.

Among the comments from critics on both sides of the aisles:

• She looked like a deer in the headlights. (Questions of national security and foreign policy stumped Palin.)

• She failed to provide examples to back up her statements. (Palin said McCain favors more regulation of American business, but when asked for examples of when he’s voted that way during his 26 years in the Senate, Palin said she’d have to get back to Couric with examples.)

• She stuttered on several points. (Palin said she might support a freeze on home foreclosures, but when asked she couldn’t explain the pros or cons of such a policy.)

Palin’s supporters blamed her less-than-stellar showing on campaign aides and press handlers who failed to adequately prepare her for the grilling. They argued that Palin is extremely knowledgeable and capable, but the lack of media training and interview prep got the best of her.

Putting politics aside for a moment – and dropping the notion that a VP contender shouldn’t necessarily need any kind of training from her staff – the same thing happens to many very talented and capable job candidates. Lack of interview preparation kills their chances at getting the position.

Tell us your thoughts here on Palin’s interview prep (or lack there of) and share your interview war stories.

Click here to get advice on how best to prepare for an interview so you’re ready to wow.

Comments (44)

In any job interview, the interviewers have a very good chance of having some idea in their heads about the type of person they want for the job. It may be that they feel they want someone a little older, who they believe will have a little more experience; it may be someone younger who they believe will have a more thorough knowledge of computers; it may be that they want an attractive woman to run their front desk because it's the image that they want to present. Whether they acknowledge these ideas to themselves or anyone else is irrelevant; preconceptions about the "best" person to fill a position exist. If you don't fit their mental image, then you will have to be twice as good in your interview, and they may still try to discourage you (as happened to the woman who felt that being in her forties rendered her simultaneously too young and too old for the job). Sometimes, being as qualified as is humanly possible just doesn't matter, and that's rotten, but that's life. All you can do is be as wonderful as possible in the interview: try to get them to see how you would fill the position, do everything they want their imaginary perfect person to do, and in some ways be better. If they want a younger person because they think that person can dealbetter with computers, then play up your computer knowledge and skills and mention how you have the advantage of being able to explain it to others because you've had to acquire your knowledge, whereas young people often struggle with explaining things that are so second nature to them. Railing against the system feels great, but it won't get you hired; you need to figure out how to survive within it.

Palin's interview should have been a chance for her to show America that she is every bit as qualified as any other Vice Persidential candidate: America may have an image of its politicians as old white men, and a sense that a busy mom could never be as adroit with policy and information (I don't share these beliefs, but do acknowledge that they exist). This interview was a chance for her to show us that she could do it, to change our image of what a competent and capable politician looks like... but she didn't do it. She didn't prove that she could do the job as well as or better than those people we normally picture in the job. By definition, she blew the interview, no matter what your politics are.

I was watching those awkward interviews of Sarah Palin while I was readying for my own as I search for a new job. It really made me realize that I have some work to do. Aside from poring over my past work experience, I also started preparing for questions about how I have handled problems or failures. There’s a great web site, w2wlink.com, that has tips on this topic, http://www.w2wlink.com/Articles/Ace-Interview-artid150.aspx

I am greatly disappointed in the media. Of course, I shouldn't be because I am well aware that most media is liberal in their views and of course would have negative things to say about a conservative and intelligent women like Sarah Palin. I am a women struggling to survive but I don't want a liberal extremist like Obama and Biden in office. I have an opinion and I believe there are many more people that feel the same way I do. Of course the very liberal and biased media don't want other individuals like myself to believe there are others like us.

Sara Palin is prejudgist. She doesn’t stand for all people or ALL WOMEN; she is for the “hockey moms” of America, not the soccer moms, basketball moms, tennis moms, volleyball moms, baseball moms, and football moms. You see all of those sports include African American, Hispanic, Spanish, and all creeds of people and children. Hockey is a sport that may include the latter, but for the most part, it’s mostly Caucasian. So right there, she is letting everyone know that she could care less for anyone other than her own. We as Americans have to stand up for ourselves and look at the whole picture. She lets you know that she has no interest in everyone needs, only the interest is in her type of people.
When she talks, she is not talking to the middle class. I’m a part of the middle class. She is talking to “her” type of middle class and not caring for others. Most small business make less that $250,000/yr. and that is what Obama is proposing for us.

It has also been stated that Sara Palin had an affair on her “First Dude”, Todd Palin. She is also been caught up in all types of LIES and deception, she has no remorse for those lies she spills. “The bridge to nowhere”, is one example of her lies. The church she attends believes in witch craft and no one is talking about this.

Everyone needs to take note of all the media and base your vote on the person who best fits your life and life style. If Republicans fit your life, vote for them, but if Democrats fit your life, vote for Obama. My name is Nicole Sloan and I approve this message…

No 2nd round of interviews for Sarah Palin if she was interviewing in the real world.

I am sure everyone is thrilled about Palin running for Vice President but, She is not Hillary Clinton. I am a Hillary Clinton supporter but, I do not agree with Palin's issues and her inexperience. I did my homework on the policies and issues and I personally do not believe Ms. Palin has the experience to run this country.

All of the women posting on here in favor of Palin because she is a woman.....I guess you are all for affirmative action?

She is not the woman for the job. We want a great person not a person who is not up doing the job, man or woman . Last thing we need is a less than great lady. The crap with hit the fan. Take off your rose colored glasses

Clearly Sarah Palin is in over her head on every level. While Palin labels herself an expert on "Energy", she refuses to recognize the perponderence of evidence on global warming and the need for alternative energy more than oil.

During the debate, Palin showed a complete lack of dignity and respect for the guidelines and the debate forum, by refusing to answer the questions, choosing instead to give canned speaches.

Both her lack of knowlege and inablility to think on her feet, coupled with complete disregard for guidelines and format should disqualify her from this office.

I applied for the perfect job for me. My first interview in 20 years (11 career, 9 parenting). I prepared but I was so nervous about being accepted my brain shut down. I answered questions okay, but feel I could have done so much better or with more confidence. My brain was working enough to know being able to see something doesn't qualify as foreign policy experience!

I think all of you are wrong Katie asked Palin some questions that were not necessary or called for, she is the one everyone should be looking at. Palin was nice enough to agree to meet with her and yes she as other pointed out she should have been prepared but come on, how was she to know what kind of loaded questions she was going to be asked. Come do your homework when looking at Obama he has no experience when it comes to running the country.

If you interviewed for a professional position (i.e. corporate lawyer) like Palin is interviewing for the VP position, it's unlikely you'd get the job unless whomever was doing the hiring had alternative motives.

People get jobs for many different reasons. I know for a fact I got jobs because I didn't have kids to attend to and the other candidates did. I got a job once because the manager thought I was cute. I was offered a job once because I am a Capricorn.

My friend who is a gay makeup artist says he always wears tight pants and flirts with the man interviewing him if he thinks he is gay. He said people automatically assume he's a fabulous makeup artist because he is gay. My one friend got a job that paid higher than anyone else at the company without even interviewing because the woman who hired her liked her look. When my sister interviewed with companies in the south, she always let them know she is originally from the north. After living in the south for years, corporate people told her that northerners are perceived as people who work longer and harder and quicker than her southern counterparts.

Nixon sweated on tv so he lost. Howard Dean got a little too excited and he got the boot. Naomi Campbell is a drama queen with over the top demands and designers/magazines still book her. Everyone has their reasons for voting or hiring someone, and I have found they usually have nothing to do with the answers someone gives. People mostly hire on gut feelings and the visual.

Right or wrong, thats the reality. If it weren't, we'd wear sweatpants to an interivew with stains on our resume.

If any one of us interviewed like Gov. Palin did with Katie Couric we would not be considered as a serious, viable candidate for the position we were applying. Many of us get anxious during an interview particularly when we are applying for a position that elevates our pay and status or if we are in a desperate situation and really need the job. I once lost my train of thought during an interview and began digressing about some other topic, my interviewer had to think I totally unprepared for the question or that I didn't have an acceptable answer to the question. The advice I was given was to simply say that I lost my train of thought and ask to have the question repeated. Anyone applying for a position that is a progression from previously held position(s) should be able to answer questions that pertain to their job experience and be able to articulate that experience with confidence and pride. If you don’t know what you know, then who does?

Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric was an eye opener. Bottom line, Gov. Palin's interview was a job interview: an interview to ascertain her qualifications and beliefs that could potentially be implemented through the second highest political office in our nation.

Though some people commented that they did not like the infusion of politics into this blog, we all have to be real about the implications of that interview. When women pursue high level positions, we have to "prove" that we are capable in ways that men do not. Like it or not, double standards still exist and are fueled by closeted beliefs that women are not effective leaders. Unfortunately, Gov. Palin's interview did nothing to dispel either.

Sexism hasn't been eliminated from our workplace. It has just become more subtle. In this instance, Gov. Palin is being touted as the best person for the position because she happens to be an energetic woman. To that end, that she is a woman should be sufficient enough to demonstrate that the Republican Party is in tune with issues that impact woman. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not happy about that monolithic view of women. Regardless of our political views, it is important for women to be vigilant about covert sexism and be consistently vocal in opposition to it.


I would have had more respect for Mrs. Palin if she just would have been honest about her lack of readiness to become VP. In past job interviews, if I was lacking experience in a certain area, I explained myself by saying, "Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of experience in this area. However, I am a fast learner and self-motivating, etc..." Mrs. Palin wasn't honest and the world (because I work overseas) saw how unprepared and unqualified she really is. It is not about women being jealous of Mrs. Palin. It is about professional and educated women knowning the difference between someone who is qualified and who is not.

Nope --youre looking for trouble where none exists. Take things at face value and stop reading between the lines. Palin was terrible in her interviews with Couric...BOTH parties agree...this isn't limited to Obama supporters. Her own fans were upset with how she did. There's always Thursday night! But again, this is about INTERVIEWING not politics.

Get real! Politics is hidden in this article -- NO DOUBT!

Veronica -- the creators of this site didn't write about politics. They wrote about INTERVIEWING SKILLS. It's everyone else -- well not all -- who went down the political path. And you're just throwing hatred which serves no purpose. COMMENT ON INTERVIEWING EXPERIENCES.

I don't understand the need to comment on politics on this website. I'm going from a Women for Hire supporter to a boycotter. Stop with the atttack on the conservatives and get on with life. Our world is full of so many incompetent people, many of whom are involved in politics.

The interview with Sarah Palin was just one more example of who she is....someone chosen for an important position for absolutely the wrong reasons. She is totally out of her element (which is, evidently, killing animals as it is allegedly the will of God?)

And as far as Lynn's comments about jealousy....this is one of the most insulting stereotypes about women and I assume that you are also a woman? It infuriates me when this great country of ours stoops so low as to have people like George Bush and Sarah Palin in office or running for office. And you pretend to know about Barak Obama. Give me a break, Lynn. Do you know how to read?

Men and women in politics from both parties seem to be immune to the unfair hiring practices that the rest of us are subject to. Last year I had an interview in which I was told: "I know I shouldn't ask this, but if you have young children then you have to know that this job is time consuming and not made for someone with a family." Upon telling my interviewer (a woman in her late sixties) that my children are teenagers and self-sufficient, she then proceeded to tell me that there were many "young" people who applied for this job, and "I do like to give young people a chance." She stated that she did not want to give the job to someone who would try to eventually get a promotion and move on!! This was a second interview after a first group interview with her staff the day before (very nice people & highly frustrated). It seems that women over the age of 40 are too young and too old all at the same time!! Of course, this women was "appointed" to her position by a well-known politician in a very blue state. Go figure!

I agree with many of the comments, but also want to say that although we would like to see a woman in the Office of Vice President- or President, I don't think we want a hockey mom with no world experience, someone with less budgeting experience than many of us have had in our jobs and someone who thinks being cutesy and ditsy on a national interview is the right person. rather she is an embarrassment to all and someone who can set back the efforts of other strong, intelligent, experienced capable women

People, People, Palin is not qualified and should stop faking. She is is unaware of many issuses, including things that are happening in the lower 48 (states). I would love to hear that she is at home monitoring her children's behavior and caring for her baby.(who will NEED a full time mom). Lastly, I would like to ask every one who has the nerve and audacity to compare her to Barak Obama to GET REAL! It appears you cannot see the forrest for the trees.

You know we are not perfect: I am surprised at the bashing of Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric. I did not view the entire interview, but if she was a man or if this was Sen. Lieberamn the press and others would not bash, ridicule, or berate him. Although she should have been prepared for the questions, I saw all Senators Obama, McCain, and Leiberman (sp) make false and incorrect statements during this campaign and no one bashed or ridiculed them to the nth degree.

Maybe, we sll should take a step back from these brave candidates: Take notes when they speak or are in a debate, review our notes, check their voting records and credentials, realize when the press and media are reporting unfairly or trying to provoke a candidate. We should then review our notes and fact findings and make an intelligent decision not based on 1 bad or unprepared interview. Also, jot down what it is you do not like about the candidates point by point (including bias traits).

Yes, you're absolutely right this woman (Palin) or Leiberman will be the Chief Executive if something should happen to the president should they win.

It is sad that she does seem to be so "in over her head." She's obviously a strong, smart and articulate woman with diverse interests and would be a great role model for many. However - regardless of who you are or how you get where you are, at some point you have to perform - demonstrate the skills needed to do the job. Unfortunately, much of that only comes from experience - and lots of it. Its sad that obviously she hasn't had the depth of experience yet to be a credible VP candidate. (OK, gals - here it comes - the understatement of the year...all snickering aside...) This will undoubtedly be a major life lesson for the whole Palin crew.

The most scary people, are those who don't know what they don't know and Sarah Palin is one of them. It is frightening to see how people in public positions can rise way above their level of ability so easily.

You do not have to visit a foreign country to be knowledgable about foreign affairs. However cramming information in a short period of time and having photo ops with foreign leaders is not the way to acquire that knowledge. We have had very recent experience of a leader who was woefully ignorant and as a result started a costly and ill-conceived war

I cannot for the life of me imagine why she would want to subject herself and her family to such scrutiny and humiliation. And it is very hard to understand why there is still anyone in the US or elsewhere in the world, who after hearing her talk about the economy and world affairs and reading about her autocratic behavior in office, still thinks that Sarah Palin is worthy of being elected as Vice President.

It was horrible! She is not qualified to run the country. Carol sums it up well. It doesn't matter that she is a woman. No one is picking on her and I would love to see a qualified woman in the White House as well, but she is not the one. Suzie states that the media and everyone is being bias to Palin. No one told Palin to go on a CBS or ABC and not be prepared. She looked DUMB. I'm with Kelly when she said that it would have looked better if she stated that she is learning from McCain. She talks a lot of trash and it's almost because she is on the defense all the time. She is not QUALIFIED at all and she needs to go take care of her FAMILY and SIT DOWN somewhere! She talks a big talk on the campaign trail but when she is all alone and McCain is not holding her hand like she is his little girl, she crumbled like burnt toast. It's also amazing how she can poke fun of the democratic VP and it is ok, but for someone to poke fun of her, they are called bias or sexiest or unfair to her. Get a life Suzie and grow up. Obama is a GREAT speaker and does answer questions. We can’t help it if OLD DRIED UP McCain chose a person who is not qualified and Obama did. My name is NICOLE R. SLOAN and I approve this message…

Obviously Susie,

You did not watch the 1st Presidential debate! You want real, honest answers? Then listen. It's nice to see Obama speak TO Mcaine, and give him eye contact. You do know that where there is NO eye contact, as Mcaine did with Obama in the debate, there is LYING.By the way, Palin HAS to be prepared and has to know the issues, she is the VP candidate, I'm not, and I know more then she does. If I were in her shoes? I would run for the snow banks in embarrasement.

Can't hardly sleep at night thinking this woman would a heart beat away from the oval office if something happend to McCain. Being a female of high education could never vote for him or her.

I cannot even be proud of a woman being chosen for the VP slot. This moose dressing angry person(just like Mcaine) is totally unaware of the issues. She needs to go back to Alaska and continue being the "leader of Alaska" as she so hysterically put it. She is an embarrasement to intellegent women(and men) everywhere.
In short, how did the republicans find someone DUMBER then George Bush?
Imagine if McLame actually strokes out as Pres.?!! Seriously, seriously, she should step down now, before another idiotic statement comes stuttering out of her mouth."I'll get back on that"It's actually hard for the amazing Tina Fey to act THAT dumb. So, let's hope the American people do not vote for Angry and Stupid. We have had 8 miserable years of stupid and stubborn, God help us if we get even 4 more years of ANGREY/STUPID!!My dogs would do a much better job then Palin would.

Lynn and others -- why do you assume this is jealousy or bias against Sarah Palin? Her own party said she sucked in the interview with Katie Couric. Nobody is saying she isn't smart or capable; this blog discussion should be about HOW SHE PERFORMED IN THE INTERVIEW and what would happen to YOU OR ME if we couldn't answer basic questions. We'd be shown the door. Not everyone is a good interviewee. Does that mean we should or shouldn't get the job?

It is amazing to me how biased women are against other women when we should be supporting one another! I do not like Hillary or what she stands for, but did want her to beat Obama and win the democratic nomination.

Is this partially a matter of jealousy rearing its ugly head like it can in the business world as well? Sarah is a very attractive, accomplished woman and maybe that is why the politically liberal females feel so threatened by her.

Sarah has just as much or more experience than the democratic choice for PRESIDENT of the United States! My opinion is for women to wake up and smell the coffee and to quit being naive!


It is amazing to me how biased women are against other women when we should be supporting one another! I do not like Hillary or what she stands for, but did want her to beat Obama and win the democratic nomination.

Is this partially a matter of jealousy rearing its ugly head like it can in the business world as well? Sarah is a very attractive, accomplished woman and maybe that is why the politically liberal females feel so threatened by her.

Sarah has just as much or more experience than the democratic choice for PRESIDENT of the United States! My opinion is for women to wake up and smell the coffee and to quit being naive!


Now more than ever, this country needs leaders that are knowledgeable and able to communicate well. Sarah Palin comes across as unable in both areas. McCain could have chosen others who are much better qualified which leads me to believe he is just using her because she is a woman. Incidentally, I would love to have a woman president, but only one that is qualified and that I can have confidence in. I think most people cringe at the thought of her taking over this country should something happen to McCain.

I would be the first person in line to vote for a woman as president or vice president...IF that person was qualified for such immensely important position.

Let's try to keep the two points separate. Yes, it's fabulous for a WOMAN have the opportunity to become VP. And to have someone 'like us' be our advocate. However, this is a vote for someone that would potentially be the LEADER of our country, contending with foreign policies, being aware of the histories of conflicts and understanding how complex one choice can affect our country.

Based on the interviews I've seen and what I know of Sarah Palin, I do not feel that now is the time to vote for this candidate in such a position as Vice President of our country. Whether you agree with her views/party or not, Hillary Clinton was a much more qualified candidate. Oprah Winfrey would also be more qualified (who, by the way doesn't pump her own gas). Sarah Palin is not the right person to be Vice President of the USA.

With most sincere concerns, please vote for the candidate's ability to lead or co-lead our country, and to not vote for someone that we HOPE to be our Vice President some day. Our time will come (a woman in the White House) when the time is right, when the candidate is right.

Who would you rather have represent 'we the people' in the White House...someone that knows how to pump the gas OR someone that knows which gas station has the best quality and the least expensive gas?

Agreed! let her have some time!most people know when someone is not honest and real, to much rehearsing sounds and looks fake.

If you can't articulate what you mean, then you don't know or understand what it is you are talking about. If Palin really knew where she stood on the economy, foreign policy, etc. she wouldn't need campaign prep to help her prepare for interviews. If I am unable to explain something to someone then clearly I don't know what it is I'm talking about. She just doesn't have a clue.

I would rather vote for someone like Palin who is down to earth and is not living in a Fairyland vs. someone who is all show and good at giving speeches and interviews. With the high cost of gas and other necessities---I wonder who has pumped their own gas Palin or Obama---who has gone grocery shopping Palin or Obama. These are the things that matter to me not who gives the best interview or speeches. Anyone can learn to give good interview or speeches, but who can deliver on what they say!

I saw the interview and honestly could not believe how unprepared she really is to be a VP. I have spoken to so many people about this, men and women, republicans and democrats and unfortunately Senator McCain's judgement to choose Governor Palin was a big mistake. Let's be truthful about this, because she is a women has completely nothing to do with the reality that she is not equipped to be Senator McCain's VP. The American people deserve better and a change is necessary to turn this country around.

I find it amazing that as women in business we are falling into the trap for political reasons. How we have been lied to about this not being bias.

Have you never interviewed someone that had great credentials,personality, bright and a great worker but their interview process wasn't spot on. If I followed the same rule for every applicant I would never have a succesful business.

Now lets get to the bias part. Lets play fair, if you want to criticize Palin, let go for them all. I wouldn't hire any of them.

I would have a lot more appreciation for her if she would simply admit "foreign policy is not my strong suit, however I'm learning a lot from Senator McCain and others" or something to that effect.

While I'm pleased to see a unique and unexpected VP candidate, it's still unnerving to see how horribly unprepared she is. I'd like to hope she's spending every second of time available educating herself on questions she's likely to be asked and trying to not sound unprepared and amateurish on national television.

I fail to understand the criticism of Palin's interview with a biased media when Obama still can't answer a question. Not once, in any of his interviews, unless it has to do with his family, has Obama answered a question. Palin is being picked on like she is running for the Presidency when she is the Vice Presidential candidate. Obama gets defensive, changes the subject or just simply ignores the question and recites his speech. He consistently says Um among other things. I like Palin and honestly, she's handling everything to the best of her ability. She deserves to be left alone. Put yourself in her shoes and how good would anyone do?

Had any of us done as poorly as Palin did with Couric, we would have been shown the door after the second question. No interviewer would have given us the courtesy that Couric gave to Palin.

Tory - your point is well taken. Only in the surreal world that is politics would a woman like Palin have the opportunity to "interview " for a job when she is so clearly unqualified.

Palin is an anomaly. My experience has been that, unlike Palin, many women are reluctant to throw their hats into the ring for "the big job". They often sell themselves short, focusing on the things they don't have, rather than the skills they do.

Palin seems blithely unaware that she is in over her head. I don't think any amount of preparation would provide her with the knowledge she needs to pass the interview, or, even more importantly, do the job.

My hope is that she doesn't get it...

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