It's important to be prepared for a job interview, but there's such a thing as being over-prepared, too.
Neil Costa is the founder and CEO of Hireclix, a recruitment marketing firm, and estimates he's interviewed roughly 500 people and hired 100 of them, since he launched his company 14 years ago.
Over the years, he's noticed there's one thing candidates routinely dwell on that he, as a hiring manager, thinks is a little overrated: Having rehearsed answers for every question you could possibly think of.
"I think a lot of people do stress about, 'What are they going to ask me?'" he says. But "trying to anticipate every question is really hard."
You can make better use of your pre-interview time by focusing on a few standard questions, like "Tell me about yourself" or "What interests you about this role." Then, check sites like Glassdoor to hear from previous candidates what questions were asked during the hiring process.
There's one simple shortcut to anticipating what questions will be asked, Costa adds: Ask the recruiter.
"It's an opportunity for people pre-interview to ask the recruiter, or whoever they're going to be interviewing with: Is there anything you want me to prepare specifically for our discussion?" Costa says.
"I think that's a super smart way to to show your level of engagement when you're looking at a new job opportunity," he adds. "That way when you're in an interview, you're focused on answering the question instead of going off of some pre-rehearsed script."
Costa says candidates should also avoid one major mistake that can be "an easy strike" against you as a candidate, especially for a competitive job. He estimates that at least half of candidates don't have any questions of their own prepared to ask the hiring manager during the interview (and "that's probably conservative," he adds).
Take a moment to prepare questions about the role, team and company. It's a key step to signal that you're engaged in the process and that you're "not just applying to 100 jobs" at once, Costa says.
Questions that allow you to get into why you'd make a star hire are a good place to start. Think: "What traits will help me succeed long-term at the company?" or "What's the No. 1 problem I can solve in the first 30 days?"
Having good questions for your interviewer "shows a level of interest and thoughtfulness that will differentiate someone from the crowd," he says.
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