Can your interview practice jeopardize a job offer?
When asked about job search concerns most people usually rank interviewing skills high on their list of worries along with resumes and networking. Being concerned reflects sensitivity toward landing a good job and that helps keep you mindful of how important it is to prepare for questions.
Any successful job candidate will tell you that preparing for an interview is a smart strategy, and without practice you are apt to overlook building rapport with the interviewer.
It’s the not the preparation for an interview that jeopardizes a potential job offer rather it’s the timing of your practice.
A large percentage of job candidates accept interview invitations as a way to practice answering questions with an employer and that can be a mistake especially if the interview is the job you really want.
Job candidates often find themselves experiencing two extremes when practicing interviewing skills; relying on memory to recall accomplishments or trying to memorize answers.
Even though a recent job candidate had good intentions of building rapport during an interview he made the mistake of relying on his ability to recall accomplishments. His strategy was to review possible interview questions but never practice them out loud, thinking his style would impress the interviewer with a more authentic tone unrehearsed.
He was not invited back for a second interview. What went wrong? He practiced interviewing during his interview rather than preparing ahead of time by relying on spontaneity and memory.
Winging an interview is not good practice, there is no forgiveness on the first round and what you say will be the forming blocks of a perception.
Memorizing answers can be just as risky — another candidate over-prepared for his interview by rehearsing questions ahead of time as to what he would say and when. He practiced with precision each possible question and had an immediate answer ready.
He described acing the interview by answering all the questions, in his mind he was the ideal candidate who could meet the employer’s needs.
Just like the first candidate, he was never invited for a second interview. What went wrong? He found out from a friend who helped him get the interview, that he inadvertently gave the interviewer a “robotic” perception, answers without emotions.
While he was quoting results oriented accomplishments left and right, the interviewer quit listening and turned her focus to his behavior in answering the questions not his results.
How can you practice interview questions without jeopardizing a job offer?
Dr. Paul Powers, author of Winning Job Interviews, recommends a formula for practicing interview questions that will supercharge your answers. His formula is: experience + knowledge + personal characteristics.
According to Dr. Powers, basically every interview question is composed of a two-part question.
- Can you basically do the job? Your knowledge, experience and skills that confirm you have the technical or hard data to actually do the job.
- How would you be doing the job differently from others? This question confirms your personality, personal characteristics or unique blend of skills that makes you different — the soft data.
His formula works for questions that you can’t always prepare for ahead of time and those that you can predict.
By answering question one without question two, your answers tend to be flat and impersonal. It doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd.
In retrospect answering question two without question one can be too generic and too vague sounding. It doesn’t address the basic concern — “Can you do the job?”
Consider using the two basic steps as a guide when discussing your background and skills with a potential employer. Using these steps will help you appear both genuine and prepared for the interview.
What’s the most difficult interview question asked during an interview? How did you answer it?
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