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Put Your Can Opener Away

You’re ready. You have your smartest outfit on. Your shoes scream confidence and your hair is just how you like it. Maybe your palms are a bit sweaty, maybe you are tirelessly going over notes from your research and resume, or maybe you are practicing your answers to the questions that you know you’ll be asked.

“My relationship with my last supervisor was wonderful. I learned a great deal from them. I remember this one specific situation where…” is only the beginning of what you’ve prepared and you’re hoping that it will be enough. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve made it to your round of interviews, the hiring manager has heard that answer. While the adage says that practice makes perfect, in this situation practiced makes unmemorable.

All too commonly we are encouraged to practice our responses to the questions that we know that we are to be asked within an interview. We prepare canned answers and no matter how good we are at acting; they always sound a bit rehearsed. Perhaps it’s time we flip the coin. Instead of focusing so much on what your answer will be and practicing that, instead practice listening to what the questions are actually asking you. When you take the time to listen to the actual question and take a moment to breathe and then answer, you may surprise yourself with the results.

They may ask you how you got along with your previous supervisor, but what they may be actually asking is how do you respond to criticism and what did you do to receive praise.

You may hear what are your best attributes, but what they may be saying is what areas will you excel in and where can you easily adapt.

An interviewer may ask you what your biggest professional weakness is. They are definitely NOT asking you for a strength disguised as a weakness. So don’t tell them that you care too much, that you work too hard, or you are too loyal. Employers want reality, they want honesty and some level of transparency. So instead of hearing what is your biggest weakness, hear what is your biggest weakness and what are you currently doing to overcome that weakness.

The interview process is at times uncomfortable and awkward, but breathe easy because no one wants you to do poorly. Hiring managers simply want to meet you face to face and see how react under a small amount of pressure. So you can put the can opener away, do away with the overly prepared answers and instead get ready to have a conservation about your successes, your failures, and what you’ve learned from each.

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