Here, David Couper — veteran career coach and author of Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career … Even When You Don’t Fit In! — on the most common myths about the job interview, and the best way to deal with them.
Myth 1: The interviewer is actually prepared.
Contrary to what you may expect, when you sit down for the interview, your interviewer probably hasn’t had time to do more than glance through your resume, Couper says. Most interviewers are, in fact, line managers who are harried, overworked and stressed by the need to fill a position.
What to do: Make it easy for your interviewer. When asked the frequent catch all question, “Tell me about yourself” use this as an opportunity to recap the highlights of your resume, your qualifications and why you’re a good fit for the job. (Another way you’ll endear yourself to the interviewer? If you tell them what they need to know, they won’t need to come up with more questions, Couper adds.)
Myth 2: Most interviewers are trained on how to conduct thorough job interviews.
Typically, human resources professionals do get extensive training in job interviewing techniques — but the average manager is more or less winging it.
What to do: If your interviewer asks vague questions, go into specifics even if they aren’t asked for. Couper suggests that you be ready with several concrete examples of your skills and experiences that illustrate why you should be hired for the job.
Myth 3: It’s only polite to accept an interviewer’s offer of refreshment.
To be courteous, many interviewers will offer you a drink — but in reality, it is often a bother for them to rustle up a cup of coffee or tea. And even worse, this can use up a good portion of the allotted interview time.
What to do: Unless the beverage is right there, politely decline.
Myth 4: Interviewers expect you to hand over references’ contact information right away.
Until specifically asked, hold off with providing references. By waiting until after the interview, you’ll have a better idea of who would make the most suitable references for position. (You’ll also have an opportunity to ‘gently’ prep your references first about the details of the job.)
What to do: When asked for references, offer to send the information via email in the next day or so. Note: if you’re a designer or writer, it is appropriate to hand over reports or samples of your work during the interview.
Myth 5: There’s a right answer to every question.
Often interviewers ask a question to see the way you think, and how you approach your answer is more important than the answer itself, according to Couper.
What to do: If you’re presented with a hypothetical problem and asked to resolve it, try to think of a comparable situation from the past — and talk about how you successfully dealt with it.
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