The Worst Advice I Have Heard About Interview Preparation

Going to an interview soon? Don’t believe everything you hear about interviews.

As a Career, Life and Leadership coach I work with a range of clients and help them to achieve their goals. Prior to coaching, I had a 16 year public sector career within the human resources and recruitment areas. I conducted, chaired and coordinated dozens of interviews. This included preparing and asking questions, reviewing resumés, providing feedback to candidates and assessing their interview performance. Now I use my knowledge to coach and support clients to get prepared for their next interview. Over the years I have heard many stories about “bad” interviews from my clients, friends and family. Plus with my background, I feel I can provide expert options on rejecting those MYTHS and highlight what you SHOULD do. Here are the top 5 things I have heard:

Myth Busters

1. Wearing your most expensive outfit and dressing formally

You do not need to show off your expensive taste or be a fashionista at an interview. You must however dress for the role as if you already have it. For example in the financial sector, a suit is common attire. Men, never wear shorts or rock-god t-shirts please! For women, I strongly urge you to leave the brightly coloured blouses and stilettos at home. Remember to keep jewellery and makeup to a minimum.

2. Tell a joke to break the ice

Are you going for a stand-up comedian role? Then no, do not tell jokes. I know that some interviewers like to gauge a person’s sense of humour by sharing a funny quip or light-hearted joke first. If they do this, be polite about your response. There is no need for you to start bantering around with “Knock-Knock” jokes and it is not a competition for being the funniest person.

3. Drop names

Sharing mutual connections, relatives or high profile names at an interview to gain influence or notoriety is OUT. This promotes nepotism and in some companies it’s illegal to employ family members directly without a recruitment process. Again an interview is not the place to showcase who you know and how you know them – if you get my drift!

4. Share your weaknesses

I know of interview situations where my clients have been asked the question “Tell us about your greatest weakness”. It’s becoming popular and I dislike this question because it’s negative. I once heard that a panel member re-asked the question because it wasn’t answered properly. That is rude! There is one way to answer this without bringing any attention to a weakness. Look at this in terms of professional development or extra training. The area I require further development in is …what? For example, public speaking, strategic planning, writing business cases etc. Think about this carefully before you answer.

 5. You didn’t answer all the interview questions

Some interview questions might actually be illegal. You are under no obligation to answer all the set questions. To explain further, questions such as “Do you currently have any family responsibilities?” or, “Are you planning on having children?” are discriminatory, and not relevant to an interview process. So if you feel a question is personal or asks for irrelevant information, be cautious. A trick to answer it is stating, “How does that question relate to the job?

To counteract the worst advice ever, here are my top 5 tips for “good” interview practice

1. Do not lie about anything. You do not need to share everything with an interview, however lying will automatically exclude you from getting a job

2. Being over-confident can be ugly. Yes you need to be confident, cheerful and enthusiastic about the opportunity but you can have too much confidence. For example a candidate stating after five minutes “I have another job offer so what can you do for me?” is genuinely disrespectful

3. Project positive body language. Be warm, engaging, make eye contact and give a firm handshake when you meet the interviewers. I have seen people in an interview, look away, and fidget, play with their hair, check their watch or stare out the window. More than 55% of our communication is through non-verbal language.

4. If you smoke or enjoy a drink over dinner, stop the night before an interview. Alcohol and tobacco leaves a residue for up to 24 hours in some cases. It’s better to be clean, presentable, bright and alert.

5. Never bad mouth your past employer. “Yes my last job at McDonalds was great, except that my boss was such a micro manager”. If you disliked aspects of your last job, please don’t bring them up here. Talk about what you did like and what you enjoyed doing the most.

Interviews are taken seriously and they are an effective form of choosing a versatile, confident and effective team member. You must take the time to be prepared and seeking professional assistance is a great option.  If you liked this article please share and should you require interview coaching assistance, connect with me for more details.