Be Prepared, but Don’t Overdo It4 Oct 2007 / PE
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.
For example, we have a book here that my wife bought called Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions.
- Who has time to prepare answers for 201 interview questions?
- 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
- More Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions
- The 250 Job Interview Questions You’ll Most Likely Be Asked
- 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions
- 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions
- Etc., etc., etc.
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!