Busting Common Job Interview Myths

A quick internet search for “Ace a Job Interview” will bring up thousands of pages written by “experts” that are full of tips, hints, and tricks of the trade. Most of them are well meaning, and more than a few are very helpful.

However, the majority of these sites continue to spout the same interviewing myths over and over again. Most of these myths are either untrue or they have become so cliché that their devoted followers all blend together into one mass of business casual faces.

So take a break from the mundane, stand out from the ordinary, and actually impress your future boss!

Fake Faults. Nothing goes over so well during an interview as coming across to your potential employer as a fake person, or better yet, a liar. Next time the big question pops up… “What is your biggest fault?”… please ignore the experts.

Myth: You should answer this question with a characteristic that isn’t really a fault. For example, expound on the fact that you are a perfectionist! You are simply too hard on yourself and your work standards are so high it’s almost impossible for you to meet them!

Reality: Please. Really? Imagine being the employer. You have interviewed 30 people who all read the same interviewing tips. Apparently they are all perfectionists who are all too hard on themselves. You are going to start craving an interviewee that is actually honest!

Application: Think through this question thoroughly before your interview. Pick a fault or two that are actually faults, but aren’t shocking. For example, say “Sometimes I have a hard time not taking criticism personally, but I am working on that area of my life.” Please do not state that you are chronically late or that you struggle with coming to work every Monday with a hangover. Believe it or not, that will not work in your favor.

Eye Contact. By age five most people have been taught “It’s not nice to stare.” Somehow the interview experts have forgotten that lesson.

Myth: Make constant eye contact with your interviewer. Seek out their eyes and don’t let them go. This portrays confidence and will make you stand out from the crowd.

Reality: No, this approach will make you look creepy. Constant, stare-you-down-and-never-let-go eye contact will make your potential boss feel very uncomfortable, and that is not the effect you want to have!

Application: Should you make eye contact? Without a doubt, yes. Should you stare down your interviewer and force the contact? Absolutely not. Let your interviewer take the lead in deciding how much eye contact is enough. Make a point to look somewhere else while thinking about your answers. Look down at your notepad (the one you had better have brought), glance at your hands. Create direct eye contact, but don’t overdo it.

Selling yourself. How many positive adjectives is it possible to squeeze into a twenty-minute conversation? According to the experts, you can fit approximately 2,581, plus or minus a few.

Myth: Do your best to fit as many keyword selling-points into your interview answers as possible. Get the point across that you are not just another candidate, you are IT. You are perfect!

Reality: In fact, you are so perfect you aren’t even human anymore. It takes a robot to answer the basic question “Describe yourself using only one sentence” with “I am a mature and reliable hard-working employee who always gives 110% to everything I do because I feel that my work is a direct extension of me therefore I am diligent to ensure that I never give anything less than perfection.”

Application: Be human! Let them know that you are reliable and diligent, but throw in something relatable. Mention your dogs, or your love of hiking. Maybe you’ll find a common interest between you and the interviewer, and a common interest will definitely make you stand out from the sea of applicants.