The interview is often the cornerstone of the entire recruiting process, so naturally over time there’s been a good deal of myths created around what exactly has to happen within an interview — and what absolutely cannot. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of job interview myths, and people have been writing about this topic for close to a decade. While there are many opinions out there, combing through them reveals a few prevalent myths still believed today by hiring managers and candidates alike that might impact your next hire.
What are the most popular interview myths?
The ones you see rear their heads the most include:
You can never be late: Incorrect. You can be late provided you call ahead and offer context on traffic, a family event, etc. You should never arrive late with no explanation, but you can be late.
Keep your answers to everything short and sweet: This can also be read as not caring about the position, not having enough to say, or not fully understanding the questions. If you need more words to give a killer answer, then use them. The hiring manager isn’t staring at a stopwatch for every question.
You must always dress to impress: You should never be a slob, of course, but increasingly corporate culture is becoming more laid-back dress-code-wise (consider how many high-valuation companies are run by “hoodie” guys), so know your audience. That said, a shower is never a bad idea.
The most qualified person gets the job: Sadly, this might be the most common job interview myth out there. Oftentimes the most-connected person gets the job, or a candidate near the back end of the interview cycle gets it because of “recency effect.” Sad but true.
Don’t do research ahead of time because the interviewer will tell you everything you need to know: This sinks a lot of candidates. It is true that many interview questions are pretty generic, and you don’t necessarily need to prepare for “Walk me through your resume,” but you should do some research on the company, their business model, what people from there share on LinkedIn, etc. It’s 2019 and you have a smart phone in your pocket. Recruiters will expect you to have used it.
The interviewer will always be prepared: Don’t we wish. Recruiters live a harried life of interviews, scheduling, screening, sourcing, offers, etc. — and often, in high-growth environments, they’re managing 20+ searches at a given time. It can get overwhelming and oftentimes, a recruiter might be running in from another interview.
The interviewer will always know if candidates are telling the truth or not: Inaccurate. We would never tell you to fabricate info about yourself, but recruiters have a hard time figuring out when you do. Best practices, of course, is to approach the interview honestly so that both the candidate and hiring manager can get the information they need out of the process.
Have any interview myths evolved for the modern business world?
Though we mentioned this briefly above, dress code is a big one. Because there is an increasing belief that younger generations want a different type of workplace and one that involves more “purpose” or “flexibility,” dress expectations are reduced, which can extend to the interview process. Always check with your point of contact about dress code but a suit is increasingly not the expectation — although in some industries, i.e. financial services, that won’t change for a while.
And remember, because the labor market is relatively tight right now, candidates have more power over the process. We 100 percent believe everyone involved should display professionalism throughout the entire hiring process, but being late or maybe being off-task on 1-2 answers will not be as big of a hit as it used to be in a tight labor market. Organizations need good people and it’s hard to find them. Advantage, candidate.
What would be better than an interview?
In general, actually doing the work — job simulation — is among the most effective ways to judge a candidate. Problem? That’s cost-prohibitive and often hard to design, especially in high-volume hiring contexts. From a cost and logistical standpoint, the most effective approach will be a structured interview (consistent questions focused on previous work accomplished given to every candidate), formal assessments (personality, cognitive, and behavioral testing), and some portfolio of work for more creative roles. That approach will better prepare you to find the needle in the haystack — as you ideally cut through these myths above.