Be Prepared, but Don’t Overdo It


Since I’m currently unemployed, my friend GL asked me to write something about the job interview process. The problem is, there’s already so much written about the job interview process, it’s hard to think of anything to add.

Which brings me to my point: It’s easy to overprepare for interviews.

Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions

For example, we have a book here that my wife bought called Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions.

Two problems:

  1. Who has time to prepare answers for 201 interview questions?
  2. What if the interviewer asks a question that’s not on the list? Where is your God now?

But wait! It gets worse! If you go to Amazon and look up this book, you’ll find a list of similar titles like

Clearly this notion of preparing answers to all possible interview questions in advance quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Here’s what I’d suggest instead: Write up a list of the key points you want to make about yourself in the interview, the unique contributions you’ll make to the job and the company. Brush up on a few stories that show you at your best in the workplace.

Then — no matter what the interviewer asks — respond with your points and stories. We’re in the midst of a political season, so it’s easy to observe this technique in action. Politicians are not out there to think up answers to every stupid question someone throws at them. They have a list of points they want to make. So do you!

This list is mostly for your own reference, but you may want to go ahead and put together a nicely formatted version, print out a few copies and bring them to the interview. That way, if the interviewer asks — and they often do — “What makes you the best person for the job?,” you hand them a copy of your list.

Bonus: Most of what’s said in an interview is quickly forgotten. What remains is a general impression and of course — documents!

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  1 comment for “Be Prepared, but Don’t Overdo It

  1. 5 Oct 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Good advice, PAUL. Thanks and continued good luck in your search. Just when you least expect something…is when some awesome job will come your way. Have a great weekend…

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