Early in my career, my boss made the terrible mistake of telling me that I was the best interviewee he’d ever met. “It was evident from the beginning that we should hire you,” he said, “and the only thing I’d tell you to do differently next time is to ask me for a $1 billion salary.”
OK, the last part of that quote isn’t entirely accurate, but the damage was all the same. Not only was I convinced that I was the best candidate on the planet, but I also thought it would be crazy for anyone to pass on me ever again. After all, if things were going this well with such a lack of experience, imagine how they’d go when I had real skills under my belt.
As you probably could’ve guessed, that over-inflated impression of my abilities took a huge hit when I began the job search again and walked into an interview 99.9% sure that I already had the position locked down. With my first boss’ words echoing in my ear and my internal connection pulling strings, I felt like a shoo-in.That is, until I got a rejection email that said, “We didn’t think your communication style would be a fit for us.” I was totally floored. But, after whining about it to anyone who would listen, I took the time to actually learn a few things from the experience.
1. Personal Anecdotes Aren’t Good Substitutes For Interview Answers
Often, interviewers will ask for specific examples of accomplishments or challenges you’ve tackled. Your first thought might be to tell a story about a personal experience—and in both of those cases, that’s warranted.
However, when I went back and thought about the interview I bombed, I realized that whenever I didn’t have a real answer to one of the hiring manager’s questions, I tried too hard to tell a joke or steer the conversation toward something entirely unrelated.
While I’d be the first person to tell you not to hide your personality during an interview, I learned the hard way that not even the Coolest Person on The Face of The Earth will get hired if he or she tries to avoid answering the questions at hand.