Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and executive coach in Manhattan, said some job seekers rely too much on articles and books to get through interviews. Human resource managers are well aware of these guides and can easily spot manufactured or canned replies.
“They want to know what sets a candidate apart from others and not looking for a corporate drone,” he said.
Practice what you want to say so you can be comfortable and flexible, but don’t rehearse so much that you end up sounding stilted and unnatural. Applicants see an interview as a “big bad monster” and get overwhelmed, he said, adding, “The interview is simply a conversation.”
Be your true self, said Dan Cable, a professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School. You can promote trust by revealing vulnerabilities or discussing times when things did not got well.
Know the Workplace Culture
Mr. Cable emphasized the importance of “cultural congruence” — sharing similar values and passions as the place you want to work.
Before an interview, if possible, contact people in your network to learn more about the company culture, said Blair Decembrele, a career expert at LinkedIn, the professional networking site.
“You can’t underestimate the art of the humble-brag,” Ms. Decembrele said.
People find it difficult to talk about their professional successes. A survey sponsored by LinkedIn of more than 11,000 workers in 19 countries last year found that only 35 percent felt confident talking about their achievements.
John Malloy, president of the recruiting firm Sanford Rose Associates in Santee, S.C., said in an email that job candidates should be able to quickly and precisely answer questions about their accomplishments.
He wrote: “The answer must be something like: ‘I saved the company $300,000 during a three-week project. Our team created a new process that is now used throughout the corporation. Let me tell you how I did it.’”
Too many candidates will answer with a one-minute introduction and lose the interviewer’s attention, he wrote.
If you are stumped by a question, acknowledge it and tell the interviewer you’d like to return to it later.
Prepare to Be on Screen
Some companies, particularly start-ups, conduct first interviews via video-chat services like Skype. Preparing for them is crucial, April Masini, who writes about relationships and etiquette for her website Ask April, said in an email.