Common Interview Advice that is Detrimental to Your Career

Author: Jack Kelly Source: Forbes

With the best of intentions, people have been doling out really bad interview and career advice for years.  Family and friends mean well, but they tend to offer career counseling without having an actual clue about the specific circumstances and nuances of the recipient’s unique situation. It’s your dad who has been retired for 10 years. He got his first job in 1975, stayed with one company for his whole life and is telling you the best way to interview and negotiate. What’s worse is that the lecture is usually followed by emails from his AOL.com account admonishing you about the suit you bought for the interview. His complaints are that it is too slim fitting and tapered, the shirt isn’t white, the tie has a pattern and is too thin, your hair has too much gel in it and your eyeglasses look nerdy. A second round of emails cautions you not to forget your briefcase, sharp looking hat (in case of rain) and freshly shined oxford lace-up shoes.

Smart, young bloggers (right out of college, with no real-world experience) pontificate about how the readers should conduct themselves in the interview process. I wouldn’t necessarily say the writers and your family are purposely trying to mislead you. They innocently believe the cliche advice offered is helpful and correct.  Sadly, it’s not; it’s closer to what my grandmother called telling a “bugge-meise.” This is a Yiddish expression—loosely translated meaning a fairy tale, something other than the truth that gets a little mixed up in your head and is not intentionally untrue. There are a lot of bugge-meises circulating in the career advice space. People don’t mean to give you bad information, but it unfortunately happens all the time.

Here are some of the examples of commonly held beliefs about interviewing or managing your career that sounds good, but are not entirely true or helpful.

1. Never accept the first offer. People will order you not to accept the first job offer. It’s the baseball equivalent of don’t swing at the first pitch. The trouble with this advice is the erroneous assumption that choosing jobs is like looking for cereal at the supermarket. There are 100 different types of cereal that you can select from.  If you have a specific skill set and earn a certain amount of income, you’d be lucky to have three good jobs to interview for at any given time. You usually don’t have the luxury of an abundance of choices. It’s also like the old television game show, Let’s Make A Deal. In the show, a person may have secured a prize, such as a brand new television set. Then, the host offers the chance to forsake the TV for what’s behind curtain number two. Usually, the curtain opens slowly and dramatically, the audience gasps and the viewers see that behind the curtain is a can of tuna, used Tuba or a goat grazing grass. Why give up a great awesome job just because you were fortunate to find it first?

2. Fight tooth and nail for everything. Yes, of course, you want to negotiate for an attractive salary along with appropriate benefits. This does not mean you should come across as crass and bombastic. There is no need to yell, fight, argue and bully people. It doesn’t have to be a knock-down-drag-out fight. You want a fair offer, but you don’t want to lose it by being too greedy.This strategy easily backfires as the hiring manager and human resources professionals will view you as too difficult to work with and, no matter how good you are, they don’t want to have to deal with your aggressive attitude.=

3. Why bother with human resources.  Your peers will question why you are being forced to initially interview with someone from human resources. They will say it is a waste of time and energy. What these people don’t understand is that HR is an important part of the process. They do all the work behind the scenes, setting up interviews, gathering feedback, pushing certain candidates forward in the process and denying others. The advice of your buddies is completely backwards. You want to partner with HR and have them like and fight for you. If you do get the job, they will be a great resource for you at the company.

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