Why did I over prepare for that job interview?

touring bikeHave you ever over-prepared for a job interview? Perhaps because you had too much time OR because you were just too nervous? I definitely have, and I paid the price!

I did it for my first job interview I lined up back in London after working abroad for a year, almost a year ago to this date. It was with a large financial services firm in the city. A few weeks before the interview, I had a telephone interview with a women from HR. You see being over prepared on the phone is fine – it actually plays in your favour. With those interviews all they are really looking for is sufficient knowledge about what it is the company does, and what your perception is of the role that you are applying for. As a result I cruised the telephone. I then was called in for 2 rounds of interviews. These were scheduled for 3 weeks after the phone interview. This gave me too much time to prepare and prepare I did. I managed to find a blog written by a guy who had gone through the whole interview process at this same company. He had documented not just every stage of the interview process, but every question asked!! Jackpot! I subsequently printed these off and memorized them. I then rehearsed the answers I would provide. Some were quite tricky numerate questions, which were intended to put you on the spot, and these were now a ‘piece of cake’ for me.

The first interview was with two young employees who worked in different departments, but had previously done the same graduate program. The questions were delivered in a posh, well-enunciated tone, and my answers were delivered back with adept articulation. This was mine for the taking, and I cruised through to the final round. This interview was to be held with the manager of the department.

I arrived for the final job interview two days later. I had all my questions and answers well rehearsed, and just like the previous interview the questions that the blogger had written pretty much came up word for word. I smoothly relayed my answers back to the manager. Even when I was presented which one of those trick questions which challenges your analytical thinking under pressure, I purposely paused as if to be momentarily stumped, and then after a 30-40 seconds gave my answer. It my opinion it all went swimmingly well, and if that interview was to be graded, I was sure that I scored a full marks. Unfortunately this was all irrelevant as I DID NOT end up getting the job. As you can imagine I was mortified. If I interviewed flawlessly, what was their reason for turning me down. This I will never know, as this was a company that severed all ties with you once you received the “we regret to inform you on this occasion” email

Lessons learnt:

  1. Don’t over-prepare for a job interview. Get the fundamental knowledge about the company and then end there
  2. Don’t rehearse answers too much – In the actual interview you come across too robotic
  3. Interviewers actually want to you answer something incorrectly in order to gauge how you handle failure


By Marc Bromhall