There are few more nerve-wracking experiences in life than going for a job interview - especially if the position you are applying for is your dream role.
It should go without saying that the more you prepare, the better your chances of being given the job. Even a novice interviewer will be able to tell whether or not you have done your research within minutes of you entering the room.
Can you over-prepare?
Interviewees can spend hours meticulously sifting through the internet for every possible question that has ever been asked. Anybody who has done a Google search for "bizarre interview questions" will know that companies can sometimes throw some real curveballs.
An interviewer might quiz you on how you would go about transporting a fox and chicken over a river, or what you would ask Samuel L Jackson if you suddenly became stuck in a lift with him. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to these weird questions and the interviewer is merely gauging your ability to think on your feet and be creative. As long as you don't freeze and say nothing, you should be fine.
While it is difficult to predict exactly how an interview will go, Bernard Marr - a best-selling author and founder of the Advanced Performance Institute - believes it is possible to over-prepare for an interview. In a blog post published by LinkedIn, Mr Marr suggested that, by and large, interviewers only need to know three things about candidates:
- Have they got the necessary expertise and skills to do the job?
- Are they enthusiastic and interested in the company?
- Will they fit into the team, culture and company?
All interviewers are different and a veteran who has grilled hundreds of applicants in the past might only need to ask three questions to garner these answers, whereas a first-time interviewer could require a dozen questions to retrieve the same information. With this is mind, it is perhaps a better approach to go into an interview with a clear idea of the key information that you want to share, rather than prepare for specific questions.
"Remember that you want to demonstrate that you are aware of the key skills, expertise and experience required to do the job and that you have what it takes to perform it," Mr Marr wrote in his blog post.
"Always go back to the key skills, expertise and experience when answering scary (and sometimes silly) questions."
How a recruiter can help
The best interviewees are those that ask relevant questions. Not only will this show that you want to learn more about your future employer, but it will also create a two-way conversation, which can help everybody in the room to relax.
While it is clear that you can over-prepare, it is still important to do your homework. The internet is a wonderful thing and you can swot up as much as you like before your interview, but to gain a real edge over rival applicants, you should consider using the services of a recruitment firm.
Search can find jobs that match your skillset and also give you hints and tips on how to improve your CV and interview technique. Our specialist consultants have built strong relationships with employers and work to fully understand what their clients are looking for in new employees. They can share this information with candidates and in some cases might even be able to tell applicants who is likely to interview them. This can give interviewees a real advantage, although you should tread carefully.
If you start to retweet every single message that an interviewer writes on Twitter, or you open up your meeting by asking if their pet dog's leg has healed, you might alienate them. A bit of incognito background checking might help you to gauge their personality, but don't be tempted to take things too far.