Isn’t it great when an interview goes according to the script? The interviewer asks the list of question he has and the candidate feeds back the perfect answers. Everyone comes away from the encounter happy and the right candidate gets the right job. That’s of course, when the everything goes right.
Whether you know it or not, if you’re preparing for an interview – whether you’re the interviewer or the candidate, you’re scripting. You’re going over the questions in your mind and preparing the answers you want. It’s a great tool as long as you don’t get too tied up in it. Remember, it’s your script and you haven’t exactly passed it out to all concerned.
How many of you have ever gotten a phone call with someone reading a script trying to sell you something? No matter what you say, they just seem to keep going because they’re more concerned about reading through their script than in having a conversation. Perhaps you’ve had recruiters call you doing the same thing. It’s definitely not something that inspires confidence.
The worst example of poor scripting I’ve ever come across was when I was serving on jury duty. The defendant’s lawyer was pretty much going through the motions. BTW, the defendant was caught red handed but still, there are standards. The defense lawyer cross examined a witness by reading a list of questions, not looking up to engage the person he was supposed to be questioning and barely waited for the witness to answer before asking his next question.
I’ve seen some very junior recruiters doing this when they’re just starting out, more worried about what they’re going to say than the candidate’s answers. But it’s even worse when a candidate does it – and I charitably call that being “overprepared”.
So where’s the balance? Should we just “wing it?”
Well, if you’re used to doing improv, I suppose you could but I think it’s important to remember that the map is not the terrain. It’s the same thing as doing a Karate form. The form is not fighting, it’s an exercise and that’s exactly what scripting should be, an exercise, something to get you used to speaking about yourself or about a job. It’s a map to give you an idea of where you’re going but you still have to flexible in case you need to change directions.
If there are specific points that require a lot of detail, then you should definitely script out what you want to say. But I would say they should be more like talking points that would act as a lead-in to further conversation. And that’s the point of great scripts isn’t it? In movies it’s dialogue that sounds real (Quentin Tarantino does this brilliantly).
So yes, by all means use a script but use it to keep the dialogue flowing. You’ll find that your interviews will be much more interesting for it.
Remember, your skills are your job security.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!