Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Dangers of Memorizing Interview Answers

I often hear from people who are getting ready to start interviewing for jobs. Their first instinct is to gather interview questions and memorize their answers to these questions. I often caution people that memorization of interview answers is not the most effective preparation method. Here are some of the dangers you face if you take this preparation tactic.

You will sound like a robot
Have you ever heard those "testimonials" on the radio where it is obvious that the person is reading directly from a script? I discount those ads as disingenuous. The same will happen to you if you come across in an interview as though you are reciting your lines from a script. It is preferable to sound human, carry on a conversation, and speak naturally to the interviewer.

You will be unprepared for other questions
What happens if you have only prepared for traditional interview questions and you walk into a behavioral interview where they want you to tell stories or give examples? There is no way to memorize an effective answer to every interview question in existence.

You will not be able to effectively sell yourself
Remember, employers hire because they have a problem to solve or a need to fulfill. Your goal in an interview is to demonstrate how you can meet the specific employer's needs. By only memorizing your "lines" you will not always be able to sell the benefits you can bring to the organization.

You will not be yourself
An interview is often compared to a chemistry test. The employer already knows you have the skills and qualifications they are looking for because they read your resume. The interview is their chance to determine if you fit into the organization or the team and to determine if they think they can work effectively with you. I once hired someone who was a completely different person their first week on the job than they were in the interview. Needless to say, that working relationship was not long-lived because I hired the person they pretended to be in the interview - not the "real" them.

Instead of memorizing your answers, memorize your selling points and the benefits you can offer the organization or team. Walk into every interview knowing how you can solve that company's problems or meet their needs. Prepare your interview "talking points" so that no matter what questions you are asked and no matter what order in which they ask the questions, you are ready to discuss what makes you a cost-effective employee.

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