Why is so much interview advice out there so basic? Well for one, the process as a whole is flawed– interviews are not the best way to gauge a person’s ability. And that’s why you’ll hear two points repeated so often: 1) appear professional 2) do your research.
After that, it’s more or less how well you can show your personality. The first time going through an interview, you might not have any idea what interviewers are watching for. Let’s see if we can get you to express yourself a little better.
Don’t Bring (Up) Your Parents
Okay, so aside from physically bringing your parents to the interview site (please don’t do that), you should also minimize any time spent discussing them.
Maybe your parents influenced you. Maybe they’re your heroes. That’s all great on a personal level. But too much talk about Mom and Dad forces the perception that you’re still their kid.
In a job interview, you need to look like an adult. You’re your own person. You don’t need Mom and Dad. The interviewer is looking for independence, not neediness.
Match Your Application
Walk the walk and talk the talk. Sure, plenty of people embellish their resume a little here and there, but you can’t drop the ball on the follow through.
To be even better in person is a great thing. To be the complete opposite is a major flub. If you say you’re creative and quick thinking, you need to back that up. If you claim to know a certain process or system, you need to talk through like you do.
The interviewer is looking for any evidence that you’re a big fat liar.
Don’t Lose Your Shit
Interviews can be intimidating. Sometimes the person interviewing might want to pull the whole “bad cop” routine on you. But here’s the thing: sometimes the “hard questions” don’t have any good answers.
In that case, the interviewer is trying to see how well you handle under pressure. When you don’t know, do you stop completely? Or do you still make an effort to consider alternatives?
When you’re under pressure, do you crack? Most interviewers can understand nervousness, but it’s hard to give you the benefit of the doubt if you’re a sobbing mess.
The interviewer is looking out for crybabies.
Don’t Geek Out
You’ll see this often in job listings: “looking for a passionate X to join the team”. And it’s true, an enthusiastic worker will always shine bright and be desired.
Keep in mind, there’s a difference between being energetic and nutso. You still want to have a sense of relatability. You still want to come off as, you know, a real human being.
And that’s the problem with geeking out. When you crank things up to 11, you’re in deep waters that can turn people off. It’s a similar conundrum of being a fan versus being starstruck.
The interviewer is looking out for the crazies.
Don’t Let the Job be “The Dream”
Maybe you’re applying for a gig that would be a dream come true. Maybe it’s a position that for real has always been a dream.
That’s personal talk. You can’t bring that into the interview itself.
No hiring manager wants to have that conversation. It’s unnecessary pressure. Your eagerness can easily be misconstrued as desperation. They don’t want to know how hard your life will be if you don’t get the job.
This goes back to appearing professional. Give the impression of cool and collected. The interviewer needs to know that you’ve got a level head, and you’ll be okay no matter the outcome.