Job Interview myths

Health warning: There's a lot of pseudo-psychology in career advisory materials. You'd be advised to unlearn the urban myths about job interview psychology. Particularly in relation to the old crocks about How To Be A Robot At An Interview.

There is logic to interviews, and you need to see how that logic works for you.

These cases are based on the assumption that interviews were properly conducted:

First Impressions myths

Most noticeably, the First Impressions approach is very misleading.

This is the recognition phase, yes, but it's a very brief phase, and the interviewers aren't there to look for trivial information. You're not going to be recommended for a job on the basis of what shoes you wear.

Because interviews are information gathering exercises, the first impressions can be very much out of whack with the result of the interview.

Making up the numbers at interviews myths

Forget about the stories about Making Up The Numbers, to a very large extent. That very rarely happens, and only when there are very few applicants. Interview panels don't go out of their way to give themselves unnecessary work if they can help it. You're there specifically because they want you there.)

When you read enough job applications, as a panel member, after the first few, the more anonymous, badly composed, applications really don't do much for your enthusiasm about interviewing that person.

You're far more likely to get picky about bad spelling, and other details, because the applications are so uninteresting otherwise that you have time to get irritated by things like that.

The people you pick are:

  • Those who definitely meet all the criteria
  • Those who provide good levels of information
  • Anybody with extra points or value in their applications or cover letters

The people you do not pick are:

  • People who produce enormous amounts of typos
  • People who've somehow managed to apply for the wrong job
  • Those who seem to feel you need to read an encyclopedia
  • Those who date their letters three years ago
  • Applications with no identifiable relevance to anything
  • Applications where the language skills are obviously poor
  • In-house applications where you know for a fact the people have been trained how to do their applications, and make a real mess of them
  • Disorganized applications where it takes an hour to find out if the applicant meets any of the criteria

Excuses for not getting jobs myths

1. They were always going to hire so and so

Wrong. Unless the whole application was badly mishandled by people who shouldn't be in their own jobs, that's a really lousy way to appoint anyone to any position.

For starters, there's an appeal process. If a person who's better qualified doesn't get the job, appointing the lesser qualified applicant can be a serious mistake.

Secondly, They were always going to hire so and so sounds very much like a reason for not considering a possibly lousy performance on the part of people who didn't get the job. If you're making mistakes in your interviews, this is where you can talk yourself out of finding out what those mistakes were. That will cost you a lot, down the track.

2. I didn't understand the questions

Ah… Why not? You got the interview. You must have had some reason to get it, and you obviously know enough about the actual job.

There are two possible reasons for this:

  • You seized up and couldn't think straight. It happens, but you have to get over that to get anywhere.
  • You don't know how to do interviews, and don't understand the methods.

Either way, you need interview training, and you need to get yourself organized to do interviews with some hope of success.

3. I should have got that job, but they didn't understand my answers

Interviews are conducted on the basis of required information. You have to tick off all the boxes on the checklist.

The checklist is comprised of the essentials, and to get the job, you're supposed to show the best responses.

They may have understood your answers, or not, but the absolutely unavoidable situation here is that you didn't give them what they needed.

Brilliant as your answers may have been, being incomprehensible isn't a particularly good job skill.

Interviewers aren't paid mind readers.

You knew what you meant, but they obviously didn't.

Whose responsibility is it to communicate clearly, the speaker or the listener?

Why would that be?

The injustice of interviews myth

Standard statement:

Everybody knows I know how to do that job, I was relieving in it for months, and anyway, I've been here longer.

Yes, and the job, somehow, went to somebody who you've also noticed does know how to do it, efficiently and well. That person just happens to be fully qualified, and has prior experience.

The fact is that with all those advantages, you apparently blew the interview. You certainly should have been in the running for the job.

The other fact is that interviews are competitive. Never forget that. There's a possibility that you may have just been competing with a better applicant.

The obvious comment is that you need to talk to the interviewers, and find out what you did wrong, if anything. If you're making mistakes, you really have to know about them.