Know Thyself: The Key to Successful Job Interviewing

You learned to interview at Amazon. What kind of mistakes did people make when interviewing for a job at Amazon?  - Anonymous, Seattle

Great question. We’ve done thousands of interviews as a team and there are some definite themes. The number one mistake you can make is not selling yourself. The second worst mistake you can make? Selling yourself too hard. 

Say what?

Look, the single most important thing you can do to improve your interviewing skills is to take some advice from Plato and “Know thyself.” That’s right. Knowing WHO YOU ARE is the most important thing you can do to improve your interviewing. 

What do you mean? 

Here’s what I mean: Are you a people person or are you shy? Do you like to go with the flow or do you stress out? Do you get nervous? Do you like to tell a tall tale or do you adhere to the facts and only the facts? 

Personally, I don't like to talk about myself and tend to focus on ways I can improve rather than my successes or what I did right. As a manager once wrote in a performance review at Amazon, “you need to celebrate and socialize your wins.” Knowing this about myself, helps me prepare for interviews. I make sure to balance my self-criticism with a win or two. This doesn't come naturally for me (those of you who suffer from impostor syndrome will understand) but it’s been the difference between getting a job and getting passed over. 

Everyone’s got a different personality. You might be gregarious or you might be shy like me. You might be prone to hyperbole or you might fixate on facts and details. No judgement here. We’ve all got our quirks. But if you truly want to improve your interviewing you’ve got to get in touch with who you are. This is the first step to understanding how others perceive you. 

And if you can understand how others perceive you you’re in a good position to put your best foot forward when interviewing. This is essentially what's called emotional intelligence (EQ) and it's going to be one of the most in-demand jobs skills in the next decade. How specifically you use EQ to land your next gig is a matter of circumstance and style but there are some general do’s and don’ts. Our Head of Talent Advocacy has put together a little guide that covers common interview mistakes and how to avoid them

This is obviously a topic that deserves elaboration so if you have a question, ask it here.

Gregory Rutty, CEO