Prepare for an Interview. Just Don’t Over Prepare.
Can you over prepare for an interview?
A major New York City employer says yes. The hiring manager for this large business walked me through how the company learned that candidates are sometimes well prepared for an interview, but not for the actual job.
This company hires a large volume of candidates at one time. In the past, candidates were asked to visit the business, which is a retail store, before the interview process begins in order to get a feel for the company’s culture and values. Hiring managers were blown away by some candidates’ understanding of the company and ability to effectively tailor answers to interview questions. The result? Wonderful candidates are hired. But then those wonderful new hires didn’t always meet the job expectations once work started, resulting in a 30% drop off rate in the first 90 days. What went wrong here?
The company needed a better way to assess candidates’ professional behavior and skills beyond asking traditional interview questions. A group interview was eventually added to the process in order to assess how each candidate worked with others in a team and demonstrated skills such as critical thinking. The result is higher rates of employee retention – more new hires have stayed longer on the job because they are truly a good match. It’s saved time for the candidate and the employer.
When preparing for an interview, do:
- Check out the culture of a company through internet research or by visiting a location. Make sure that you not only want to work there, but that you have the skills to meet job expectations over the long-term.
- Remember that interviews are your chance to determine whether you’re a match for the job. Revisit this Get Hired blog post from March for examples of questions to ask an employer during an interview to assess your fit for the job.
- Know your professional experience and credentials well. Prepare for an interview by thinking of your top five professional accomplishments or skills to communicate to the interviewer. Having these accomplishments in your pocket will help you to calmly and effectively answer most interview questions.
When preparing for an interview, do not:
- Place more value on company culture than job skills. Your understanding of company culture and how you might fit in is important, but your ability to contribute needed skills to that company is even more important. Find a balance between selling yourself to the interviewer and presenting your relevant skill set.
- Sound like you’ve over-rehearsed for the interview. Interviewers want to know that they’re having a genuine conversation with you to make an effective assessment. Trust yourself enough to let the conversation flow naturally.
Kate Janeski is Director of Recruitment at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, the agency that provides the Workforce1 service to prepare and connect qualified candidates to job opportunities in New York City. Her “Get Hired” column runs every Monday on the Workforce1 Career Blog. If you have a question or comment for Kate, drop her a note in the comment section below. And, don’t forget to share this post with your friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.