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7 Misconceptions You May be Having About Job Interviews – Job Interview Myths

In an earlier published article on 3 job interview myths, we explored three job interview myths from the point of view of Michael Spiropoulous in his very insightful book “Interview Skills that Win the Job”. We will be completing that article with this list of seven more job interview myths from the same author. It will be helpful to take out ... Continue Reading

In an earlier published article on 3 job interview myths, we explored three job interview myths from the point of view of Michael Spiropoulous in his very insightful book “Interview Skills that Win the Job”. We will be completing that article with this list of seven more job interview myths from the same author. It will be helpful to take out 3 minutes to go through that article because this one will be built upon the foundation that was laid in it. Enjoy the ride!

Myth no. 1: Never say ‘I don’t know’

Interviews are about making a positive impression by answering questions intelligently and building rapport with the interviewer. To this end, many interviewees feel that they have to provide the perfect answer to every question put to them, irrespective of whether or not they actually know the answer.
Clearly, a great interview is one in which you can answer all the questions (and you should be able to do so if you take the time to prepare correctly); however, if you don’t know the answer to something, it is better to admit to it rather than pretend to know and start waffling. Most interviewers can pick waffling a mile away and they don’t like it for a couple of very important reasons: first, it is likely to make you sound dishonest; and second, it will make you sound considerably less than intelligent.
You may as well not attend the interview if you give the impression that you’re neither honest nor bright. Trying to answer a question that you have little idea about could undermine an otherwise great interview. This does not mean that you cannot attempt answers that you are unsure of. There’s nothing wrong with having a go, as long as you make your uncertainty clear to the interviewer at the outset. Here’s what an answer may sound like:

I have to be honest and say that this is not an area I’m familiar with, though I am very interested in it. If you like, I’m happy to have a go at trying to address the issue, as long as you’re not expecting the perfect answer.
Or: I’d love to answer that question, but I need to be honest upfront and say that this is not an area that I’m overly familiar with, though I’m very interested in increasing my knowledge about it.

Myth no. 2: Good-looking people get the job

I suppose if the job was for a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale type in a movie, then good looks would certainly help, but for most other jobs the way you look is not as big a deal as many people make out.
As we’ve already discussed in the article published earlier on 3 job interview myths, there will always be an inexperienced employer who will hire on the basis of superficial factors, but most employers are smarter than that. The claim that good-looking people get the job over plain-looking people makes one seriously flawed assumption—that employers make a habit of putting someone’s good looks before the interests of their livelihood. All my experience has taught me the contrary. Most businesses find themselves in highly competitive environments and employers are only too keenly aware that a poor hiring decision can prove very costly.
This is not to say that appearance and a bright personality are not important factors at an interview. It is very important that you dress appropriately and try your best to demonstrate all your friendly qualities. Good looks are certainly overrated in interviews, but an appropriate appearance and a friendly personality are not.

Myth no. 3: If you answer the questions better than the others, you’ll get the job

Being able to articulate good answers in an interview is very important, and failure to do so will almost certainly mean you don’t get the job. However, interviews—as we’ve already seen in a previous article 3 job interview myths—are much more than just giving good answers. They’re also about convincing the interviewer that you will be a nice person to work with. To put it another way, it doesn’t matter how good your answers are technically, if the interviewer doesn’t like you there’s not much chance you’ll get the job (unless your talents are unique, extremely difficult to find or the interviewer is desperate).
So avoid thinking about interviews just in terms of answering questions correctly. Interviews are also about establishing rapport and trust, and whilst there is no fail-safe method in doing this, there are things you can do (and things you should not do) that will go a long way towards improving your skills in this all-important area of interviewing.

Myth no. 4: You should try to give the perfect answer

I’ve heard too many people stumble over their words, repeat themselves and talk in circles because they’re trying to articulate the perfect answer—or what they think constitutes the perfect answer.
Some people are so obsessed with delivering the perfect answer that they don’t stop until they produce what in their opinion is a word-perfect response.
Because we can never be entirely sure of what the interviewer wants to hear, some of us will keep on talking in the hope that we’ll cover all bases. The problem with this approach is that we end up talking too much, leading to the interviewer losing concentration—which, of course, is the last thing you need at an interview. The reality is that in most cases there is no such thing as the perfect answer. The lesson here is: it makes a lot of sense to settle for a good answer that gets to the point rather than meander all over the place searching for the elusive perfect answer.

Myth no. 5: You must ask questions to demonstrate your interest and intelligence

Many interviewees are under the mistaken belief that they must ask questions at the end of the interview. There seems to be a common belief amongst many interviewees that this makes them sound more intelligent as well as more interested in the job. This is not true.
Asking questions simply for the sake of doing so won’t improve your chances of getting a job. It could even make you sound a little dull—especially if you ask questions about matters that were already covered during the course of the interview.
Only ask a question if you have a genuine query. Acceptable questions include those relating directly to the job you’re applying for, as well as working conditions and company policies on such things as on pay, leave, and so on. Interviewers never mind answering questions about such matters, but they do mind answering questions they perceive to be irrelevant. If you have no questions to ask, simply say something like: ‘Thank you, but I have no questions. You’ve been very thorough during the course of the interview and have covered all the important matters regarding the job.’ There’s nothing wrong with including a compliment to the interviewer about their thoroughness and professionalism—provided it doesn’t go over the top or sound like groveling.
Two further points need to be made about asking questions. First, avoid asking too many questions. On the whole, interviewers do not enjoy role reversals. Second, never ask potentially embarrassing questions. These can include:
• a question relating to a negative incident;
• something that’s not supposed to be in the public domain;
• a difficult question that may stump the interviewer.
The rule of thumb is: if you think a question may cause embarrassment, err on the side of caution and avoid it.

Myth no. 6: Relax and just be yourself

Whilst it is important to be relaxed and show your better side, it is also very important to understand that interviews are not social engagements. Most interviews are highly formalized events in which otherwise innocuous behaviors are deemed unacceptable. In short, being your usual self could spell disaster (as contradictory as that may sound). For example, if being yourself means leaning back on your chair, dressing somewhat shabbily and making jokes, you might find yourself attending an inordinate number of interviews. Whilst interviewers like people to be relaxed, they also have definite expectations about what behaviors are appropriate for an interview—and you violate these expectations at your peril!

Myth no. 7: Interviewers are looking for flaws

The danger with this myth is that it can easily lead to interviewees adopting a defensive, perhaps even distrustful, attitude during the interview. If you believe that the interviewer is assiduously searching for your flaws, it will more than likely undermine your attempts to establish that all-important rapport and trust. It may also prevent you from opening up and giving really good answers.
Rest assured that most interviewers do not prepare their interview questions with a view to uncovering your flaws. Questions are mostly prepared with a view to giving the interviewer an overall or holistic insight into what you have to offer the company. A good interviewer will indeed uncover areas in which you are not strong, but that is a far cry from thinking that the interviewer is hell bent on uncovering only your flaws.
It is very important to treat every question as an opportunity to excel rather than being unnecessarily guarded. It is only by answering the questions that you can demonstrate how good you are. To treat questions as objects of suspicion makes no sense at all.
Understanding these job interview myths surrounding interviews gives you a great start for success. Remember, interviews are no different to other endeavors in life: the better you understand their underlying nature the higher the probability you’ll tackle them successfully. An insight into common interview myths will arm you with the information you need to prevent you from falling into those disheartening traps.
Just as importantly, a clearer picture of the true nature of interviews better informs the rest of your preparation and will contribute to your confidence and performance.

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