Three myths about acing job interviews

Myth: My success in interviews is all about what I say in response to questions.

Reality: An interview is about what you do.

A very common misconception is that what you say is the most important contributor to your success in interviews. In fact, an interview is typically more about what you do than about what you say. Your body language and other aspects of your nonverbal communication are more important than your verbal statements and can fatally undermine your presentation if you’re not careful.

Imagine, for example, the impression you would create if you described your calmness under pressure while fidgeting nervously, or if you described your attention to detail while wearing wrinkled clothes and scuffed shoes. Your nonverbal communication would weaken your verbal statements by giving the interviewer mixed messages. To ace an interview, always make sure that your verbal statements and nonverbal communication reinforce each other.

Myth: Preparing to answer questions about my hard skills is the best way to ace an interview.

Reality: Your soft skills are more important than your hard skills.

You’re already screened for your hard skills before you reach the interview stage. The interviewer is likely to go into more detail to confirm that your hard skills are appropriate, but the main point of the interview is to find out about your soft skills and your personality.

Your biggest challenge in an interview isn’t answering questions about your hard skills. Rather, it’s conveying, both verbally and nonverbally, that your soft skills and personality are compatible with the interviewer, the organization and the role you are seeking. If you’re only prepared to answer questions about your hard skills, you have little chance of interview success. To ace an interview, always be prepared to demonstrate your soft skills.

Myth: The interviewer will ask questions that will help me show why I’m the best person for the job.

Reality: Most interviewers are unwilling or unable to drag information out of you.

Most interviewers are managers who are untrained in interviewing skills and who interview only occasionally. In many cases, they are poorly prepared for the interview and are flying by the seat of their pants.

If you depend on the interviewer’s questions, you may only convey snippets of information about yourself. As a result, the interviewer may not develop a detailed picture of your capabilities and may leave the interview unsure of your suitability. Don’t rely on the interviewer to help you convey who you are and what you can do. To ace an interview, always understand the attributes that are most important to the employer and the role and freely offer information to fill the gaps in what the interviewer asks you.

About the author:

Janet Webb is the founder and president of JW Associates International Inc., an executive search and career management company with its head office in Toronto, Canada. To learn more, visit Janet has authored the e-book Interview to Offer: The Definitive Guide to Establishing Fit and Landing the Job.

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