Job seekers who are scheduled for interviews often assume they’ll be dealing with interviewers who know what they’re doing. Not necessarily. What’s more, those interviewers might have hidden agendas that you as a job seeker have no clue about. That being said, you increase your chances of making it through the first interview and into the second round if you keep some interview preparation do’s and don’ts in mind. (Note: Any direct quotes below are from an article called “What’s Wrong with Interviews? The Top 50 Most Common Interview Problems,” by Dr. John Sullivan.)
Interview Do’s: Things you should always do
Find out as much as you can about not only the company and the position you’re interviewing for but also about the person or people who will be interviewing you. Ask politely but in some cases persistently to obtain as much background information as you can. Just be aware that some companies will refuse to give you that information ahead of time. For example, in his article Dr. Sullivan states that too often candidates “are not told who will be there during the interview, the role of each interviewer, and who will make the final decision. Failing to educate the candidate may cause them to under-prepare in key areas.”
Plan your arrangements well ahead of time, especially if you’ll need to travel a significant distance. Take into account such challenges as potential flight delays, hotel accommodation goof-ups and the possibility that the files you were sure were on your laptop computer aren’t! The last thing you want is to arrive at the interview stressed and unfocused or, worse, late because you didn’t have a contingency plan.
Know your “stuff” thoroughly before the day of the interview, because the day-of is not the time to be pounding it into your brain (the way many college students cram the night before a midterm exam). On the other hand, don’t waste time trying to memorize a lot of information word-for-word, because you’ll come across sounding like a recording.
erview Don’ts: Things you should avoid if humanly possible
Don’t tell the interviewers just what you think they want to hear. Also, don’t make the mistake of providing information the employer doesn’t need to know and you don’t really want them to have. You do need to communicate your value truthfully and compellingly (i.e., without lying or exaggerating), but trying to base your comments on what you think the interviewers are looking for can backfire. You also don’t want to volunteer information that might work against you, especially if it’s something that wouldn’t keep you from doing the job well.
Don’t take things too personally. Not all interviewers are necessarily impartial or even close to it, and not all are well trained. In fact, according to Dr. Sullivan, many of them are not. As Sullivan says, “Some interviewers have biases or make stereotypes that eliminate individuals for nonbusiness reasons….Managers only receive cursory training and don’t know the pitfalls that can lead to bad interviewing and hiring results.”
Don’t become a victim of what Sullivan calls “death by interview.” While you might not be able to entirely avoid the scenario of multiple successive interviews throughout one, two or even three days, take whatever steps you can to prepare for that possibility and minimize it. Even Superman or Wonder Woman might have difficulty standing up to that situation well and would probably not come across as effectively by the end of the process as at the start!