There is no doubt that today’s job market is more competitive than ever before. College graduates are rolling off the assembly line with higher expectations, companies are unable to keep up the pace of generating new jobs, and the ever-growing threat of automation looms over all job seekers.
It is absolutely vital that your next major interview proceeds without a hitch, since there is no shortage of talent in today’s burgeoning job market.
Such a market scenario has further boosted the popularity of interview tips and strategies, of advices to tackle tough interview questions, etc. Sadly, most of the material is based on flawed logic and is prone to lead you down the wrong path.
In this article, we shall address five common pieces of advice that are usually associated with tackling job interviews, but which, in reality, come with severe drawbacks that are usually overlooked.
1. Fully Qualified Only
One of the most popular job search tips — or lies — floating around on the internet is the one which suggests you to apply only for those openings which you’re fully qualified for.
Quite a few job seekers took this as a limit to their ambitions, whereas the remaining few perceive this as an urge to forge qualifications to match what a job demands. While it might certainly feel apt for you to apply for an opening that aligns perfectly with your qualifications, the reality of the job market is something else entirely.
Modern hiring managers are paying greater attention to the extent of a candidate’s cultural fit, rather than doubling down on the competency factor alone. So, if you feel that you’re not fully covered in the qualifications department but perfectly-placed to carry out the job, then go ahead and apply without any hesitation.
But, first, do your research on the company and its operations and the job itself. This knowledge will help you in the interview in two ways: It allows you to emphasize your strengths and show much of an easy fit you’re in the company; and helps make up for the shortfall in your qualifications.
2. Project Complete Confidence
Yet another oft-repeated piece of advice for job interviews is that you need to project an air of total confidence or self-assurance in your abilities and achievements.
What it leaves open for interpretation is the exact extent. Thousands of job seekers have taken this advice to heart, and blurted out narcissistic replies to interview questions in the following manner: “I achieved this…”, “I was solely responsible for the success of…”, and “I am more than capable of covering everything the job demands”. The utterance of too many statements beginning with “I” is likely to make you come across as a boaster and an egocentric individual, and inconveniently land you in a pickle.
Be confident and self-assured, but not to the extent that you project an air of cockiness. There are certainly other, more pleasant ways to convey your poise and determination. Instead of bragging about what you did or can do, you can explain clearly how you would successfully discharge the roles and responsibilities of the job due to the lessons learnt from your past mistakes or achievements.
3. The Relaxation Conundrum
Attending a critical job interview usually evokes contradictory emotions: There is a need to acknowledge the high stakes nature of answering questions properly as well as the stress that goes into it; and the requirement of having a conversation with the interviewer in a relaxed manner — which is yet another common piece of advice distributed among desperate job seekers.
Navigating such complex emotions requires you to tread a very fine line. On the one hand, there is a risk of losing control over your emotions and turning into a nervous wreck; on the other hand, by appearing too relaxed, there is the risk of coming across as emotionally detached and aloof — in other words, you are not taking the interview seriously.
Rather than falling into one of those traps, pursue a strategy where you’re aware of the important nature of the interview and ready to bring positive energy into it. Positive energy is infectious, interviewers pick it up easily and interpret it as you being passionate, and you’ll easily be able to transmit your enthusiasm and excitement for the job opening. You’ll show that it actually matters to you, in essence.
4. Complete Honesty
And then comes the all-time classic tip: always be honest. To be completely clear, you should always be honest, but not to the extent that you’re spilling each and every thing that happened to you at your previous job.
Carefully select the pieces of information that you wish to reveal to an interviewer. The wrong detail, although true, could easily damage your chances of landing the position you covet. Speaking ill of your previous employer, for example, is to be avoided at all costs.
Making volatile revelations to a potential employer is likely to start things on a sour note, so always be selective about the vulnerabilities you reveal and frame your answers while keeping the future in mind. If, despite your best efforts, you’re asked a compromising question at point-blank — like if you were fired from your previous job, or the reason why you were sacked — then do be honest, without going into all the gruesome details. The truth always gets out…eventually.
There are definite advantages to making interviewers feel like they adore you. But, social media has blurred the line between being likable and wanting to be liked. Your desire to be liked may lead you to provide answers which are along the lines that an interviewer wants you to answer.
As a result, you could easily end up painting a false picture of yourself.
But the purpose of a job interview is, essentially, to understand exactly what a company is getting by hiring you. It is all about authenticity. So, let your true personality come out during an interview, but don’t let it run rampant. Get a ‘feel’ for the interview, and the interviewer, as soon as possible and tweak your tone to suit the settings.