Job Search 101: Interviewing


It’s time to bring the last two posts about your job search and resumes into greater context. We will do this by talking about interviewing.

There are so many reasons why people aren’t hired, but the book 59 Seconds lays out one important observation as to why people are hired.

  • It’s likeability.

No, not drinkabilityLikeability.

After presenting research on successful interviewing techniques, the book’s author writes, “Going out of your way to be pleasant is more important than qualifications and past work experience.”

This makes sense on an intuitive level. We tend to gravitate towards people who are humble, genuinely interesting, and share common values and interests. So when you answer a question from an interviewer — any question — you should be ‘present’ and actively engaged in the conversation. This means being enthusiastic without being a spaz. Have good posture. Make eye contact. Smile and have something meaningful and relevant to say without being too pushy.

I am wholly convinced that I got a job because I wore a Patricia Locke necklace to an interview. Honest to god. It was a twenty-minute topic of conversation and I just rolled with it.

Here’s another helpful hint from the book: Wiseman suggests that you state any flaws or complications in your resume upfront. This is especially important for people who have been fired or have left their jobs under tough circumstances. There are ways to discuss the gaps and flaws in your resume so you can address it briefly, focus on what you learned from your experiences and how you’ve grown, and move on.

Unfortunately, the research quoted in 59 Seconds flies in the face of everything recruiters believe to be true about the hiring process. It may also contradict every law the federal government passes to ensure that the hiring process is fair & equitable. I would encourage you to read the book because it’s very interesting on several levels. Please read pages 41-51 to understand how to have a near-perfect interview that focuses on likeability.

As for how you answer interviewing questions…

My methodology is simple. Be prepared. Be concise. Be honest. An interview is a chance to talk about your life and your work; however, the less talking you do, the better. You know that an interviewer — especially someone who isn’t skilled — will ask some basic stuff. So get to work on google. Look up questions. Practice. Practice again. Record yourself on a webcam. Work on your story so it makes sense and flows.

Here are those dumb questions. Add your own to the list, too!

  • Why are you interested in this company and job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What is your understanding of this job?
  • Take me through your resume.
  • What did you like about your last job? What didn’t you like? Why?
  • Give me an example of a time you didn’t like a co-worker? Who was it? What happened? Did you resolve your conflict?
  • Have you ever had to say no to someone at work? What was the situation? How did it end?
  • If I called your previous supervisor, what would she say are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are some of your strengths? Can you give me an example of how those strengths have helped you accomplish something amazing?
  • What are your weaknesses? When have you failed at something important? What did you learn?
  • Did your education contribute to the success in your last job?
  • What do you enjoy about this industry? Why?
  • What frustrates you about this industry?
  • What are your future plans beyond getting a job? Where will you be in five years?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Sheesh, I could go on & on.  The goal isn’t to prepare for the specific questions, but rather, to prepare yourself to talk about your life and your life’s work and follow-up with specific examples to support your ideas.

I want you to put yourself in the hiring company’s shoes. Think about what you would ask if you were hiring someone for a specific role. Think about the perfect candidate who gets the job. What would you want to know? What are the things you would like to hear? How would you like the interviewee to sound? To appear? To sit? To stand? To shake your hand? How would you like this person to dress? Would you want someone who meets the role 100% but can’t make eye contact and disrespects her previous employer? Or would you hire someone who meets the job description 78% but has potential, is mentally stable, shows the ability to think about bigger issues, and demonstrates professional enthusiasm?

Existential and philosophical questions, yo. That’s what it’s all about in 2010.

Also, do me a favor and remember to inflect your voice. Smile on the inside and your voice will convey positivity and likeability. Please stop sounding like a Debbie Downer who’s been unemployed for 16 months. You’re better than that.

Previous post:

Next post: