3 Job Interview Assumptions You Should Never Make

bobsMany job seekers feel they’re not very experienced at interviewing. They feel like the employer has the upper hand.

The truth is… most interviewers don’t know have a clue; they have no idea what they are doing, either. Or in some cases, as important as a job interview opportunity is for you, for the person on the other side of the table interviewing job candidates serve as interruptions to their day, keeping them from getting their “real” jobs done.

Check out the following assumptions made by most candidates as they enter a job interview… and know what to do when those assumptions prove false:

1. The Interviewer Knows How to Interview

Unfortunately, most often, the people doing the interviewing are not professional interviewers.  Interviewing usually comes under the heading of “additional duties as required” – something done only when unavoidable.

How to diagnose:  If they spend more time talking about themselves, their job, or the company rather than asking you questions relevant to the job, they don’t know how to conduct an interview.

How to respond:  If you let them jabber on uninterrupted, it will be a low stress interview for you, but it probably won’t be a successful one.  Without talking with you, they won’t have a sense of your qualifications and your ability to do the job (although they may think you are very agreeable).

You may need to try to take over the conversation or at least break into the monologue.  Ask some of the questions you had prepared in advance (right?).  When they talk about some aspect of the job, gently interrupt to point out situations where you have encountered the same thing and successfully accomplished your goal – “I know just what you mean!  We had a similar situation in my last job, and this is what we did…”

Or, launch a few short (!) monologues of your own on topics like why you want to work there and why you are qualified for the job.  Be sure to mention your major accomplishments and other achievements in your work that are directly relevant to the new job.

2.  The Interviewer Is Focused on You and the Interview

Since this is an “additional duty” for most interviewers, their minds may well be on their real jobs – a crisis, a deadline, whatever work activities they normally do.  So, job candidates are sometimes an unwelcome distraction as well as a difficult thing to do well, particularly if # 1 above also applies.

How to diagnose:  If they seem agitated, checking their watch frequently, distracted, not focused on what you are saying or the questions they are asking.

How to respond:  Be laser-focused and provide clear, succinct answers to their questions, maintaining eye contact as much as possible. Always bring the conversation back to how you will specifically address the problems they are are trying to solve.

3.  The Interviewer Has Read Your Resume (and Remembers What They Read)

Very often this is not true.  People get called in to the interview process unexpectedly, at the last minute.  Or, they reviewed your resume several hours or days ago, along with the resumes of several other applicants.  At some point, all of the resumes may simply melt together in their minds.  They may not even have a copy of your resume with them at the start of the interview.

How to diagnose:  If they ask obvious questions like your current or most recent employer or where you attended school and the degree or certification you have.

How to respond: Start the interview by handing them a copy of your resume while making a statement like, “Just in case you don’t have a copy of my resume handy.  Notice…”  This may allow you to guide them through the high points of your resume, and if they continue to look at your resume, keep guiding them through it.

If you are prepared for all 3 of those assumptions to be wrong in your next job interview, you should do fine.

At the End of the Interview, Before You Move On…

At the end of each discussion, if you have more than one interview for a job, ask for the name and contact information of the person (or people) you were just talking with.  This will enable you to send your thank you’s to the appropriate people in a timely manner.

At the end of the last interview with that employer, don’t leave without answers to these 3 questions:

  1. Ask the HR person or the last interviewer what the next steps are in their process
  2. Ask who you should stay in contact with about the job; note the name and job title
  3. Ask what is the best method of communications with the contact

Finally, assume that most of what you are told about the schedule may prove to be incorrect.  The whole process always seems to take more time than anyone wants or expects.

Your job interview is often not going to be as high of a priority for the recruiter as it is for you; they simply cannot match your sense of urgency. Be prepared for anything… and be patient!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at WorkCoachCafe!




About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .



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