The cardinal sins of interviewing in the age of open Internet 

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For employees as much as for employers, the talent market is competitive like never before. For every job opening out there, there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants. A quick look at every other job site analytics and you will find enough proof that it takes much more than relevant experience and technical skills to thrive in the competitive job market.

It is important to understand that an interview evaluates candidates not only for core skill sets but also how well they will fit into their organizational culture. Hiring managers look for well-rounded individuals who can add value to the organization, not just workhorses.

So what are some cardinal sins that you need to avoid?

It’s not just about the money (or power), honey!

Even if you are looking for jobs with the sole intention of increasing your compensation package, don’t let it out too easy. Organizations want to hear what you can deliver first, and what you expect out of your package later. Ask intelligent questions beyond the size of your team, your designation and salary. This works in two ways – it shows the organization what you can deliver and that you are intelligent enough to ask insightful questions. But it also gives you an opportunity to find out things that your employer will probably not willingly communicate to you – organization culture and challenges to name a few.

Don’t go in unprepared

This seems easy, doesn’t it? But often, candidates prepare responses for possible questions and read about how they can showcase their achievements. What they don’t take into account is the organizational DNA and how to showcase your experience that fits into the interviewer and employer’s scheme of things. Don’t just read the interview section of Glassdoor, read the reviews too. Read news clips and press releases, social media handles, and get to know your potential employer like you know your brands – beyond what’s on the surface. Do some due diligence on your interviewer and/ or hiring manager too – LinkedIn and Twitter help. 

Evaluate whether or not the employer fits into your personal and professional needs

Some organizations are cut out for those who can put in the long hours. Some might need you to put a hard stop to quarterly travel plans because as a bootstrapped startup, their staffing is not at par with large organizations. In an ideal world, personal time would be an entitlement – painless and easy to claim. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. So it is important that interviewees too make an informed choice about what they are getting into.

Know your priorities well and research whether an employer will enable you to fulfil them or will just be a roadblock that will result in avoidable angst. All employers have their strengths and weaknesses – some allow great work-life balance, but little intellectual motivation, some may need the extra hours but you will do impactful work. Know what you want out of a job and if a potential employer doesn’t fit into your scheme of things, don’t waste your time or theirs.

This is a world where Glassdoor and LinkedIn exist. Blogs and micro-blogs give you useful insights into work culture of potential, even if they are sometimes dressed like petty rants. Take them with a pinch of salt but please, be aware. It is much easier to avoid unpleasant surprises that might crop up after you sign the dotted line. But of course, it takes initiative from your part.

Do your homework. Prepare questions, not just answers. And most importantly, show a little personality. That’s the only way to break the clutter of relevant degrees and experience, resumes and LinkedIn recommendations.