Can You Prepare Too Much for an Interview?

I once developed a nervous twitch in my eyelid during an interview for a job that I really wanted.

No word of a lie, on that particular day, I actually lost the plot a little.

I had just come back from three years in Russia with Kingfisher (owners of B&Q) and my wife was pregnant with our first child.

We had actually had a few problems conceiving, which was the reason for moving back to the UK, but amazingly Lizzie ended up coming along naturally.

The stress from not being able to have a baby rapidly morphed into “shit, we’re having a baby.” A joyous thought, but when you don’t have a job to move back to, it definitely focuses the mind.

I thought that a move back into UK retail would be safest, and I secured an interview with Amazon for a Senior Buyer role.

The moment I read that email that they wanted to meet me, I was already making plans in my head about how I was going to impress them.

Having worked in a pants-on-fire start-up for three years, I realised that a move back into a big UK corporate would be a challenge, but I planned my sales pitch every waking minute for a whole week. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much either.

By the day of the interview I was a bit of a mess.

Although my career was seven years old at that point, I had only been promoted internally after starting a graduate scheme at B&Q in the UK and for Kingfisher in Russia, so this was my first experience of a proper external job interview.

Boy, did I mess it up.

I won’t go into what exactly went wrong, but I am sure that a key reason for my underwhelming performance was the obsessive nature of my preparation.

I had role played the interview to such an extent that I was shoe-horning answers into the conversation where they were not required. I was failing to listen to what the interviewers were saying, instead playing out the pre-determined chat in my mind.

I was physically in the room, but mentally I was in another place entirely.

When you prepare too much, it is impossible to be truly present.

That is so, so important.

This is obviously just my opinion based on my experience, but I find that when obsession starts to creep into any sphere of life, not much good comes of it.

Preparation for an interview should be a balanced affair. You have to give your mind and body an opportunity to rest – only then can different perspectives and fresh energies appear.

Ever since that moment, I have tried to maintain a balance in everything that I do in life.

Obsessing too much about anything can send you slightly “off the rails.”

You really don’t want that to happen to you during an interview.