Job interviews can be dangerously overthought. Of course you’re going to overthink them though, they can potentially change your life. You clearly want to do your absolute best to make sure you say all the right things and practice all the right etiquette. But sometimes that is exactly what can hurt you – trying too hard to memorize and perform certain things. Realistically, you need to understand that employers are interviewing a number of people, not just you, so they will easily filter out applicants who they can tell are “putting on a show.” Now, how do you make sure you don’t fall into that category?
It all boils down to what you learned back in elementary school: be yourself. Employers want to see a real live person who is genuinely passionate about this field of work, not some robot reciting generic statements that a business article told them to say. Interviewers will recognize predictable behavior a mile away and if they see it they will probably write you off in their mind well before the interview is over. One of the main points of an interview is to test your chemistry with employer, to see if the two of you can naturally carry a productive and enjoyable conversation regarding the kind of work you are applying to do. This is a great way for them to evaluate how well you would be able to work together, and no one wants to work with a boring person who’s uncomfortable and not totally sure about the topics they are discussing. Employers will be drawn to someone who is confident about who they are and the work they want to do.
In addition to proving you care about this type of work, it is essential that you prove you care about this specific company. Before the interview, make sure you really do your homework and have some knowledge about the company’s history and what it is that they do. Explain to the employer why you applied to work for their company specifically and the ideas you would love to bring to it. Even more importantly, have questions prepared. No interview will end without an employer giving you the opportunity to ask them questions of your own. If you don’t have any questions, it makes you look less interested in the position and the company itself, tying you back to the robotic image you want to avoid. Having questions shows you are really intrigued by what this company does and what the respective position entails. It shows you want to learn more because you truly are excited by the prospect of working for them.
To put all of this advice into simpler terms, an interview should be as personally tailored as possible. Get an extremely good idea of who you will be talking to and prepare adequately. A general performance from you will get a general rejection. Prove to them that you are the right candidate for this job with confidence, sincerity, and by demonstrating your experience; not with nervous, over-practiced jargon. If the interview feels comfortable, you’re probably doing something right and it is more likely to be a match.