Studying Too Hard for the Job Interview?

Girl studying Interview Questions and Answers Throughout my career I have run into many job candidates who come into my office like students who stayed up all night studying for a final exam.

They look tired, stressed out, and struggle for an hour to remember the exact answer to the exam questions. The problem is there are no exact right answers, and this isn’t a math test but rather a job interview – a place where they should be learning about me, and me about them.

As you likely know either from exploring my site, or purchasing from Amazon, I’ve written an excellent guide on how to interview, based on my 20+ years of hiring people for multiple roles across multiple companies. Is this the best interview guide ever – maybe. It certainly presents my viewpoint and perspective on how to interview and what myself and my various teams have looked for over the years when deciding to hire someone.

In doing research for my book, however, I noticed that upwards of 80% of all career coaching and interview books seem intent on presenting you with every single question that could ever be asked, along with canned responses deemed to “be good”. I have a few fundamental issues with this approach – issues that become apparent to be early in any interview:

  1. Responses to my questions come across as canned, emotionless, and robotic
  2. There is seldom any passion or natural tie in to life and career experiences
  3. Clear struggle to remember an exact memorized answer
  4. Stumble on unanticipated questions and freeze up
  5. Nervousness and a focus more on remembering something they read versus thinking about what a question means

I am not a believer in books or courses that advocate memorizing 101 interview questions – at all. I think you are wasting your time memorizing so many questions and answers and hoping you can recite them back to me during the interview.

If I wanted these canned answers wouldn’t it be easier for you to just bring the book in and hand it to me? That way you wouldn’t even have to speak – I could just look up the answers to all the questions I want to ask you. Sounds silly doesn’t it? But isn’t that what you are doing when you attempt to read and understand and memorize an entire catalog like this?

You should not be studying too hard for an interview. You should have a base understanding of the types of questions to expect, and most importantly WHY they are being asked – what is the interviewer trying to understand about you?

Once you put yourself in this frame of mind, your responses to questions come across as targeted, relevant, concise, and based on your experiences and passions – not somebody elses.

The interview is nothing more than a slightly extended speed dating game on a professional level, with the goal being to learn about you as a person, your values, work ethic, experiences, ability to function in this environment, etc.

Don’t treat it like a final exam where if you memorize all the answers in advance you will achieve a perfect score and pass the class. It simply doesn’t work that way.



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