H went for an interview to get a contractor job and came back a little distraught. It’s a disaster, according to him.

I helped him prepare–revising his resume and brushing up his English etc. Well, English is not his first language and the interview is rather important to him. He needed all the help he could get.

He described the entire interview to me. Apparently they asked none of the questions he prepared. We collected a big list of potential questions, at his request of course. Instead they were very interested in one of the projects he did in his resume. When he pulled out his project file to show them–he was well prepared with a briefcase full of files–they asked several detailed questions and dwelled on one particular data and its interpretation. However he has already lost memory of most of that old project and his answers were not very satisfactory.

He is over-prepared. I think. Since one can never cover all the questions that can come up in an interview, the exhaustive preparation only gives one the false impression of certainty and safety. When the real interview starts and the unexpected questions come, he panicked. In addition to this, the over-preparation gives him the confidence to speak very fluently on things he knows while speaking haltingly and uneasily for those questions he doesn’t know well. The contrast just makes his weakness too conspicuous.

He is a person who likes to prepare as much as humanly or inhumanly possible. He told me that before he first went to see his future mother-in-law, his girlfriend wrote done all the things her mother might ask him and he prepared every possible dialog. It’s a huge success since he hit all the right marks. He is this kind of person.

Actually he thinks he’s under-prepared since he didn’t look into each of his old projects and reflect on all those details. So I told him he’s not under-prepared because it is impossible to predict all the questions. He’s a little convinced. However I can’t tell him he’s over-prepared since that will be discouraging him from preparing, which is his favorite thing to do. I don’t have the heart to tell him that.

6 thoughts on “Over-Preparation

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