INTERVIEWS / OCT. 08, 2015
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Why You Shouldn’t Overanalyse Your Job Interview

It was all going so well. I had the interviewer eating out of my hand, I was giving all the right answers. I was pretty much a shoe in. Then I realised that in my hurry to leave home and arrive on time, I had managed to put on odd shoes. And sunglasses instead of regular ones. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I made my smooth exit, and collided with a plate glass door. Which smashed into smithereens, like my hopes of getting the job. True story.

Luckily not my true story. But some unlucky individual out there lived that interview, and probably winces every time they see patio doors.

So let’s assume your interview was not this much of an epic fail. Maybe it was just a mediocre experience. Perhaps you just didn’t feel like you clicked with the interviewer. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re overanalysing it a touch.

Stop. There is no benefit to you in thinking too much about the interviews you have already had. Read on to find out why you shouldn’t overanalyse your job interview.

See Also: Top 7 Funniest Job Interviews in Movies

Your Interviewer Knew a Whole Lot About you Before you Even Arrived

Are you worrying about how the interview went? Don’t. Your interviewer had already learnt a whole load about you before you even arrived in the building for the meeting. It’s normal practise in many organisations to check out your profiles on social media, your blog postings and so on.

So even if you have not been featured in the local newspaper because of a little late night prank involving stealing traffic cones, the interviewer would have had plenty of time to Facebook stalk, reel through a few Tweets and get a gander at your Instagram history. Will that have made them excited at the professional prospect of meeting you, or curious about how someone who seems to hit the bar before noon quite so often will make it to a 9am interview?

You Only Had 385 Seconds to Convince Them

Let’s say that you had not ruled yourself out through your Facebook antics. You’re not out of the woods yet, I’m afraid. They might have decided before you even opened your mouth. It is said that you have 385 seconds to make an impression. That gives you six and a half minutes.

And while the research does helpfully suggest that work experience is the primary factor that most interviewers take into account when they decide who gets the job, ’first impressions’ came in a close second, with 24% of interviewers saying that this could be make or break. Six and a half minutes in to your interview, you might not have said much, but it could already be game over. Maybe it is not worth obsessing too much about how the rest of the interview went.

Success and Failure Might Depend on the Other Candidates

Getting the job is as much about those before and after you as it is about you. Not just ’other candidates’. Of course there may be others - and those others might be more qualified for the job.

But what you might not realise is that the order that interviews come in can influence an interviewer. According to research, fourth interview is the sweet spot. This is the stage when the interviewing manager has seen enough candidates to form a comparative opinion, but hasn’t lost the will to live due to asking the same set of questions too many times.

If you can’t be fourth, then you want to be first or last. These positions are memorable - another key part of grabbing that job. But what use will analysing your interview performance do you, if you were none of these positions? In fact, how will you even know what position interview you are for that session (calling the manager and asking will definitely make you look odd). Best not to worry too much now.

There’s Always a World of Internal Politics

Did you get passed over for an internal candidate? Quite possibly. One very good reason not to over analyse your interview performance is that you will never have all the information that the decision makers do. You don’t know how many candidates there were, what the internal picture was, if there were people in line from inside who were at risk of redundancy if not placed ( - or even just internal candidates ’on a promise’ for some other reason.)

These things certainly do happen. Jobs are advertised that are then pulled last minute because of staff cuts or structure changes. Internal candidates put their hats in the ring last minute. A maternity returner appears and wants to come back to work earlier than expected. All of these things change the scene for you, regardless of your cracking interview performance. No matter how well you got on, if the HR Manager (and the full weight of the law) say that an internal candidate at risk of redundancy needs to be placed ahead of you, then you’re a gonner.

Isn’t it All Just Luck, Really?

And finally. As much as I hate to say it, there is a good degree of luck when it comes to landing a job. Now, there is a big extent to which you make your own luck. Turning up looking presentable, being prepared and making an effort to build rapport, should help you ensure that the lucky dust makes it your way. But interviewers are, at the end of the day, looking for someone they would like to work with. The best qualified candidates might not actually make the grade.

Call it team fit, or simply a hiring manager’s gut feel. Even in a balanced and structured interview process, there is a high degree of chance. Do you hit it off with the interviewer or not? Do you discover quickly that you have a shared interest or follow the same sports team? Worrying about this after the event will not help you any. Just go with the flow.

See Also: How to Cope After a Bad Interview

If you have already attended your job interview, it can be somewhat cathartic to wallow. Have a good old think about all the things that possibly, probably, almost certainly went wrong. How the interviewer had it in for you right from the moment they saw your slightly-scuffed shoes. Grab a glass of wine, and enjoy that feeling for a while. There’s nothing you can do about it now, anyway.

But don’t analyse things too much. Overanalyse that interview and before you know it, you will be paralysed with worry. And worry, as the good Baz Luhrmann once said, is pretty much useless:

"Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum."

People have had worst interviews and lived to fight another day. Unless it was you who walked into the glass door on the way out after interviewing for their dream job. That was a pretty epic fail.


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