5 Misconceptions About Job Interviews

The thrill and exhilaration of finally getting an interview can come with a whirlwind of emotions and advice. Do you need to wear pantyhose with a dress or skirt? Will practicing for an interview really make a difference? In my first job after graduate school, I felt like I was given a behind the scenes view of the mystery that was the job search and recruiting process. By helping to facilitate the on-campus recruiting dance between job-seeking students and on-campus recruiters, I finally got a chance to hear what recruiters were thinking, directly. So, if you are in college or grad school, going through the on-campus recruiting process or you’re early in your career and prepping for an interview here are 5 misconceptions about job interviews, from my experience:

  1. “You can tell if the interview went well because of the interviewer’s body language.” Sometimes the nicest interviewers give the most critical feedback, and the stone-faced interviewers actually really like you. I was once told by a fellow coach, and former executive recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, that a good interviewer’s goal is to get to know who you are, truly. A recruiter can do that with a smile and warmth. Your job is to be your best professional self. Don’t let a nice recruiter disarm you of professionalism or a stern recruiter throw you off your game.
  2. “Anyone can wing it.” Knowing yourself and knowing the company/role is what’s important. Practicing or preparing for an interview should include growing your knowledge in both of these areas. Some people speak more confidently and naturally about their accomplishments and experience than others. So, the learning curve for interview preparation may be less steep for them. This leads to some people saying that they don’t have to practice. When, in fact, they have practice from honing natural personality traits, or years of building confidence and professional speaking skills. You have to know yourself. Recruiters are not blind, they can see where there are gaps in responses.
  3. “Recruiters make hiring decisions.” Recruiters are often times responsible for drawing in the best pool of talent for someone else to choose from. I have been told by some recruiters that they may really “like” someone, but do not feel confident asking them to interview for the next round. Why? Because the next round was with staff/leadership in a department who would not be impressed. In addition, if the interview is on-site, anyone from the receptionist to the cleaning staff can be observing (and potentially) reporting your behavior while you are in the building.
  4. “The recruiter will ask me questions to cover everything that they need to know about me.” I’ve met really nice, very busy recruiters. In the hustle and bustle of recruiting season, sometimes even the best recruiter can be off their game. If there is something very important for you to mention about yourself, and it hasn’t been asked — use that last, “Do you have any questions for us/me?” as an opportunity to spin things and share your accomplishment concisely.
  5. “What you wear doesn’t matter, it is really about your experience.” Style and professionalism are subjective. So, I will say this — plan your outfit and then ask a for an opinion from a career/style coach or even better, someone who has interviewed (and got) a job in your field. If you are really lost and crunched for time, the minimum you can do is try to make sure you clothes are clean, wrinkle, and lint-free; you smell fresh (both breath and body); and your hair and make-up are complementary.

With all that said, every interview is different. Just like any other advice take what works for you and leave behind what’s not relevant for your experience. —

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