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Old 02-12-12, 05:21 PM
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Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills?

Just looking at articles about interviewing.. everyone has countless lists of Do's and Dont's about how one should conduct the interviewing process down to a T.

Like these: http://www.job-applications.com/job-...nterview-tips/

While I don't dispute that there are certain endeavors and formalities that'll definitely make or break an interview (dressing appropriately, being prepared and somewhat knowledgeable about the job/company, articulating why you want the job, eye contact, simple manners, etc), I've found it overwhelming to memorize all the countless tidbits of what you should and shouldn't do on a job interview.

So I only plan focus on may 4 or 5 of the most important items rather than 100s of little items. I think it'll at least make me a mediocre interviewee and I'll make up for it with my actual skills and abilities. Just the thought that you need to make sure everything [on the list of 100 or so items] are taken care of or the interview won't go very well is enough to induce a nervous breakdown.

What do you think of my approach?
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Old 02-12-12, 07:16 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

I think, the point of all interview skills is to convincingly present your relevant skills and experience.

I think, it depends a lot though on the interview and also the field of interest.

I would like to think that the actual skills and abilities are what matters. The purpose of the interview is to expand on your CV, describe and substantiate the claims you've made in the CV, make sure that you are a good fit for the company and have basic interpersonal skills.

I don't think you should have to focus on 100s of items especially if they are not common sense or not related to the actual skill. Probably the interviewer himself isn't aware of all those items either ;-)
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Old 02-12-12, 08:23 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

If you have skills and experience but not so good with interviews or maintaining jobs, why not go solo?
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Old 02-12-12, 08:29 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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If you have skills and experience but not so good with interviews or maintaining jobs, why not go solo?
That's eventually my plan.. but I don't have the capital (money) yet..
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Old 02-12-12, 09:52 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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So I only plan focus on may 4 or 5 of the most important items rather than 100s of little items. I think it'll at least make me a mediocre interviewee and I'll make up for it with my actual skills and abilities. Just the thought that you need to make sure everything [on the list of 100 or so items] are taken care of or the interview won't go very well is enough to induce a nervous breakdown.

What do you think of my approach?
It's the only logical approach. I've found that I can't prepare for interviews in the way that's recommended. People tell you to prepare and rehearse answers, but that just makes me insanely nervous...to the point where I am inclined to just forget about interviewing altogether, having decided it's more stress than I can handle.

When I've tried to prepare for even the most commonly-asked questions, I find that I get into the interview and say something else entirely, anyway. It's rather pointless to prepare, as I see it, beyond the point that you know in a general sense what to expect and you know the major things to avoid when answering questions.

I spend my interview prep time working on the things I can control to a larger degree--making sure I have something to wear, that I know where to go and how much time to allot, and preparing a bag of essential interview supplies (mints, hairbrush, crap like that). I don't practice, and personally.. I'm better off for it.
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Old 02-13-12, 03:28 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

Hello Shlarin! I've never chatted with you on the boards, but since you asked an open question, I thought I'd chime in. Hope there's something helpful in it I really think that a strong interview is more important than people are saying. First impressions matter immensely. I also wonder what you mean by being a mediocre interview. You say you're going to focus on four or five points, I guess I question, "How do you know what are the four or five most important points?"

The 100 points aren't rubbish or anything, but the more important thing is to actually know what is important rather than guessing. That happens best by researching the company itself. Learn its history, mission, and know a bit about its executives. If you do that I really believe your interview will go better. If you've got an impressive skill set, and not just knowledge, but knowledge the company wants you to know, then you are in great shape!
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Old 02-13-12, 12:01 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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Hello Shlarin! I've never chatted with you on the boards, but since you asked an open question, I thought I'd chime in. Hope there's something helpful in it I really think that a strong interview is more important than people are saying. First impressions matter immensely. I also wonder what you mean by being a mediocre interview. You say you're going to focus on four or five points, I guess I question, "How do you know what are the four or five most important points?"

The 100 points aren't rubbish or anything, but the more important thing is to actually know what is important rather than guessing. That happens best by researching the company itself. Learn its history, mission, and know a bit about its executives. If you do that I really believe your interview will go better. If you've got an impressive skill set, and not just knowledge, but knowledge the company wants you to know, then you are in great shape!
Researching the company and knowing about them and what's important to them IS one of the areas I'd focus a lot on.. it's common sense no matter which company one's interviewing at.

What I'm referring to is people who write articles or go on TV and talk about a long list of things like the amount of time you should spend answering the question "Tell me about yourself" and it shouldn't be more than 3 min 30 seconds and less than 2 min 30 seconds and such. Or how you should try to make some small talk but not talk about X, Y or Z even if X Y or Z are seemingly neutral topics.

Knowing about the company, the position, dressing well, having manners, etc. are all realistic goals to aim for.

But having the intricate details of how to answer every single question and having one's own delivery and body language all down to a T no matter how the interview goes is not realistic.
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Old 02-13-12, 12:09 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

Once I over-prepared an interview, to the point that it was like a movie in my head, but the interview was completely different than I had imagined, and I seemed way too enthusiastic and crazy for this particular admin position. It's great to write out a list of questions you think they might ask and prepare for them - but it's not a script !!!
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Old 02-13-12, 12:22 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

For some reason I cannot understand, how you interview apparently means a lot more than your actual qualifications. This is sort of like receiving your grade for the term based on how you greet the instructor.
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Old 02-14-12, 01:07 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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For some reason I cannot understand, how you interview apparently means a lot more than your actual qualifications. This is sort of like receiving your grade for the term based on how you greet the instructor.
I can list three jobs I obtained off the top of my head where I was the least qualified candidate. An ability to connect and an understanding of the vision of a company can go very far. I'm no scholar on hiring practices or anything, I just have in the past had to get jobs by being an effective interviewee.

However, if the job is rocket science and I'm a cardiologist, then obviously I won't get the job. By saying the interview is important, I hope I'm not sending the message that past experience or training is unimportant. I just know that the most experienced and qualified person is not the one who gets hired in many many situations. I say this as a former employee and a former member of management.
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Old 02-14-12, 01:35 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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I can list three jobs I obtained off the top of my head where I was the least qualified candidate. An ability to connect and an understanding of the vision of a company can go very far. I'm no scholar on hiring practices or anything, I just have in the past had to get jobs by being an effective interviewee.

However, if the job is rocket science and I'm a cardiologist, then obviously I won't get the job. By saying the interview is important, I hope I'm not sending the message that past experience or training is unimportant. I just know that the most experienced and qualified person is not the one who gets hired in many many situations. I say this as a former employee and a former member of management.


Interviewing is sort of like a stage performance. You need to show the interviewers how you think you will fit into their organization and help them towards their goals. Good interviewers will be seeking the same answers...beware the crummy ones with their canned questions or trick questions. When interviewing in the past (and I've been told I interview very well) I always go in with the thinking that the absolute worst possible thing that can happen is that I don't get the job. Since I already don't have it, the worst thing is that I am no worse off than when I walked in the door.

Preparation always helps, a lot. Read everything you can about the company, if they're public read their last annual report, understand the markets they work in, the general product lines, and so on without getting caught in the details (widget XYZ does this and that...no, just know that they make widgets!).
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Old 02-14-12, 07:34 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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I can list three jobs I obtained off the top of my head where I was the least qualified candidate. An ability to connect and an understanding of the vision of a company can go very far. I'm no scholar on hiring practices or anything, I just have in the past had to get jobs by being an effective interviewee.

However, if the job is rocket science and I'm a cardiologist, then obviously I won't get the job. By saying the interview is important, I hope I'm not sending the message that past experience or training is unimportant. I just know that the most experienced and qualified person is not the one who gets hired in many many situations. I say this as a former employee and a former member of management.
You didn't say anything I don't already know. I know that interview skills count for a lot. I just don't see how someone who is qualified but interviews poorly is seen as undeserving of the job, while someone who is much less qualified but interviews well can relatively easily get the job. It makes no sense that one's sales skills count for more than one's necessary skills (except, I guess, in sales positions).

Frankly, the whole thing seems rather stupid.
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Old 02-14-12, 07:39 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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Interviewing is sort of like a stage performance. You need to show the interviewers how you think you will fit into their organization and help them towards their goals. Good interviewers will be seeking the same answers...beware the crummy ones with their canned questions or trick questions. When interviewing in the past (and I've been told I interview very well) I always go in with the thinking that the absolute worst possible thing that can happen is that I don't get the job. Since I already don't have it, the worst thing is that I am no worse off than when I walked in the door.
I find it astounding that people defend this or see it as reasonable. It's only slightly better than things like doing a background check, doing a credit check, or other discriminatory practices that effectively shrink the pool of potential employees for fairly arbitrary reasons.

Quote:
Preparation always helps, a lot. Read everything you can about the company, if they're public read their last annual report, understand the markets they work in, the general product lines, and so on without getting caught in the details (widget XYZ does this and that...no, just know that they make widgets!).
I always prep, but I have a lot of problems with interviews that I've never been able to overcome, to the point that I've never been hired for a job I interviewed for. The three jobs I did get over the past 20 years did not involve interviews, nor did the few jobs I got prior to those. One of the many reasons I'm going on SSI instead of continuing to bang my head against a brick wall.
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Old 02-14-12, 11:16 AM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

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You didn't say anything I don't already know. I know that interview skills count for a lot. I just don't see how someone who is qualified but interviews poorly is seen as undeserving of the job, while someone who is much less qualified but interviews well can relatively easily get the job. It makes no sense that one's sales skills count for more than one's necessary skills (except, I guess, in sales positions).

Frankly, the whole thing seems rather stupid.
"Mediocre" doesn't mean poor.. just one who has the common-sense interviewing basics down but without the "whistles and bells".. most of the time for me, trying to get the bells and whistles in place ends up ruining the interview through too much anxiety and self-consciousness..

What I mean by the basics are just:

- Knowing what the company does
- Knowing what the job is about
- Knowing how your skills are desirable for the job
- Carefully listening to what the interviewer (or company) wants
- Having common-sense manners
- Being mildly confident but not arrogant

I just find that preparing canned answers to questions, micromanaging your presentation, or memorizing and acting out a list of 100 things to do or not do is counterproductive (aka the "bells and whistles")..

Last edited by Shlarin; 02-14-12 at 11:27 AM..
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Old 02-14-12, 12:48 PM
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Re: Can you get by with excellent skills and experience but mediocre interview skills

I always manage to screw up interviews one way or another.

My brain doesn't think fast enough and my mouth doesn't speak the way it should.
It's a trainwreck whenever I have an interview.

I stumble over my words and it's very painful to be wasting precious time on things that I know what to say at an interview, but can't say them in time or my words come out sounding odd.
This is why I haven't had a job in years. The interviewer probably thinks I'm on drugs or I'm very stupid or both.
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