Can you be Too Prepared for an Interview?

A recent discussion here at Allied about trends within the applicant pool gravitated toward one particular trend showing up more and more frequently – candidates who are too coached and how that negatively affects an interview.

You may think that “practice makes perfect” applies to interview preparation and the more you rehearse the better you’ll do. This doesn’t necessarily apply to interviewing.
The purpose of an interview is for a company to discover detailed information about your work experience and your job history, including the reasons for leaving jobs and the specific skills you possess. Equally important, sometimes even more important, a company needs to assess your fit for their environment. This is where too much practice can be a problem.

One pattern recently has been in applicants who talk about the importance of “networking” in the job search and how they are especially “effective at building relationships”. Both are important concepts but virtually all of these candidates use the exact same phrasing over and over. It appears as if a particularly compelling article circulated online, everyone took its advice, memorized the suggested “good” answers, and are now interviewing at the same time. Here is the thing though– the answers are only good if they are YOUR answers.

A good interviewer doesn’t want to hear the buzz words and the packaged answers available to everyone. An interviewer wants and needs to hear from YOU — the person who will show up every day and work hard (without a coach or source material). An interviewer needs to know what interacting with YOU will be like. An interviewer needs to know if YOU are going to get along with the rest of the staff. An interviewer needs to know what YOU are really good at – not what the articles say are important skills.

There’s nothing wrong with preparing ahead of time so you can intelligently talk about your experiences, the job opportunity and the company at which you applying but keep it down to earth. It’s fine to practice how you might answer certain questions and to make sure that your answers will include some key things that are important for the position but don’t be generic about it. Be genuine. Be yourself and you will land the right job for YOU.

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