Nailing the Interview: How to Not Over Prepare

Maura Mann, Vice President
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Ever heard of those pesky little things called behavioral interview questions? You know, the questions that start out with, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” These questions are meant for the interviewer to get to know how your experiences match with what they’re looking for. They’re meant to understand your work ethic and how you act under pressure. And sometimes, they can make or break an interview.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect

Candidates without much recent interview experience, whether recent graduates or seasoned executives, can easily fall into the trap of over practicing. While doing your research, knowing your resume inside and out, and being prepared to talk about your skills is important, writing out answers for every question, practicing your answers in the mirror, and stressing out about getting all of them right can actually be detrimental.

The best advice? Ditch the practicing! Practice will not make you perfect when it comes to interviewing. What will work is writing down a few bullets of positive, and negative, experiences that you’ve had in your professional career. By creating a short bulleted list that you can refer to during the interview, you’re setting yourself up with a cheat sheet of stories and experiences that can attest to your skill sets.

Clear mind, full heart, can’t lose

While this may be an inspirational catch phrase from the TV show Friday Night Lights, it can also be applied to the interview process.

In other words, it’s important to remember to keep an open mind. One of the worst things you can do for yourself is create expectations before the big day. Common worries include thinking about who you’ll be interviewing with, how many people will be there, what room you’ll be in, or what questions they’ll ask.

It’s best to sit back, relax, and not overthink it. After all, the interviewers want to get to know the true you. They want to get to know your personality and see how you fit in with their company culture. By wasting time worrying or over-anticipating, you’re taking away from your ability to set your best foot forward.

A good night’s sleep

Remember the days when cramming for a test was the norm? Staying up all night the day before a big midterm and fitting a semester’s worth of studying into one night? While that may have worked in college, this technique is not best used when it comes to interviewing.

The power of a good night’s sleep is almost as important as doing your research. With a good night’s sleep you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the interview ahead. So go ahead and iron the power suit, do some final research, and get some sleep the night before. Your body will thank you in the morning.