Is the job interview: sensible, fair, effective?
I wish. The Land of Nod is more like it. Never have more stupid
questions been answered with the same repetitive answers as
in the job interview. You can sit down and easily list ten questions
everyone is asked in an interview. Human resources people will
tell you that's the point: there are certain things we just
must know about everyone.
Not so!. Every job is different. Every manager
is different. Every candidate is different. When you enforce
rules that encourage candidates to sound and act the same, it
becomes impossible to separate the right candidate from all
the droning wannabe's.
I cannot find one book about job hunting --
except mine* -- that suggests you carefully think about the
work you do and how you would do it for a prospective employer
prior to approaching that employer. That's what makes interviews
work. A good career coach will not let a candidate meet with
a prospective employer unless the participant is groomed and
able to control the interview by making it a hands-on, at-work
meeting that focuses on the work that needs to be done. If you
spend an interview doing anything else, your effort is wasted.
Control The Interview.
Don't let an interview turn into a rote question and answer
session about your greatest accomplishments and your biggest
weaknesses. That's not what will win you a job offer. Focus
on what you can do for an employer. It's up to you to take control
of an interview, and turn it into the solution to an employer's
The Agenda Is The Work.
Prepare an interviewer before your meeting. Let him or her know
that you want to clearly demonstrate, in the interview, how
you will do the work they need to have done. If all you do in
an interview is talk about your history, you will leave the
employer unconvinced that you can do the work he needs to have
done. A headhunter will never jeopardize his fee by letting
a candidate treat an interview like a tea social.
Be Ready To Do The Job.
You must take responsibility for being able to solve the employer's
problem in the interview. Do the job. Sound intimidating? Well,
if you can't do it, why bother interviewing for this particular
work? You have to be able to do it. You might as well get ready
to do the work you'll have to do daily if you win the job.
Introduce yourself to the interviewer before you meet, in a
phone call, or through a referral made by someone who knows
you both. Leverage. Such an intermediary can be another employee,
another manager (from this or another company), a vendor of
the company, or a customer. If you have to, spend some serious
time finding someone who will do this for you. Don't consider
this a minor option. Don't go on a blind date. Companies retain
headhunters because they hate blind dates.
Join The Team -- Enlist!
Be tentative and you'll die. Don't wait to be asked to participate
in the manager's work. You'll never be asked. Be proactive --
enlist! Be on the job when you walk into your meeting. Arrive
to face the manager's challenges with him. Your goal is to perform
like an employee who wants a promotion. Act like you're on the
team. If you don't, you never will be.
Offer Profit to The Manager.
Be ready to discuss or do something in your meeting that will
help the manager with a problem she's facing now. Ask the manager
to put a live problem on the table, so you can show how you'd
go about solving it. This single technique -- which focuses
totally on your work skills -- does more to impress an employer
than anything I've ever seen a candidate do in an interview.
Roll up your sleeves! When you're done, ask to be reviewed like
Want The Job.
Every day, job candidates fail to win offers for one reason:
the employer isn't convinced the candidate wants the job. If
you would accept a position given the right offer, don't leave
the interview without telling the manager. Do you wonder why
it sometimes takes an employer forever to give you a decision?
It's partly because you probably never gave the employer a decision
at the end of the interview. Look the manager in the eye, without
a smile on your face, and say "I can do this job for you
profitably -- I want the job." Afraid you might ultimately
end up turning the job down if it were offered? That's another
issue. You can want a job but legitimately reject an offer that
can't be negotiated to your satisfaction.
Here's the point: would you hire someone to
work on your team if they didn't make it clear they wanted to
work with you? I wouldn't.
Worth, Value and Profit
Your worth is what makes an employer want to hire you. Your
worth is determined by the value you offer the employer. That
means you have to take the initiative in your job hunt. An employer
cannot extract value from you -- you must offer it. You can
only offer value if you know what is valuable to the employer.
That means a lot of research up front, before you approach any
• Perfect Answers to Interview Questions – Random
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Think of you career
as a horizontal line stretching across the page. Now no one’s
career is totally flat because all of us have ups and downs
we win jobs and we get high or retrenched and we get very low,
sometime we are on top of a job and at other time we just hate
going into work.
Now the important thing during the interview
is to keep the interviewer with all the positive stuff –
which is when you are above the line. Research as shown that
when you reveal to the interviewer the below the line stuff
it attract far more supplementary and probing questions. Now
if you are being interviewed for say 45 minutes and you get
taken below the line were you were unhappy, not performing well
or not managing the situation much of the interview is going
to be spent on the negative aspects of your career.
So what you have to do is stay above the line.
A career is like life in that it gives you either gifts or lessons.
The lesson are usually the below the line stuff.
In your preparation for the interview think
about the tough times and what you learnt from them, how you
developed or a positive that occurred because of the difficulty.
Then when the interviewer takes you below the line you can quickly
outline the difficulty and then even more quickly go on to relate
the positive thing that came from negative. Here is
“I see you were retrenched in ’97 after 5
years service how do you feel about that?”
“Well at the time it was devastating but you know
it was a wonderful opportunity to reassess my skills and
what I wanted to do in my career so it lead directly to
“Tell me about a time when you were not happy at work?”
“That was when I was selling full time. I was reasonably
successful but my heart was not in it. Having resolved to
move across to marketing I really discovered my corporate
home and, as you can see from my resume, that is when my
career really took off.”
How to win
the PTD (Polite Turn Down) you don’t want
Being late for the interview
or appearing unreliable
Interviews are scheduled one after the other so you can imagine
what happens when you are late – it throws the whole day
out. In fact it doesn’t you get a short interview and
you don’t get the job. Interview behaviour is projected
and interpreted as work behaviour. If you can’t organise
yourself to get to the interview what is your commitment to
the work likely to be?
Not many people are arrogant at interviews but some use arrogance
to hide their anxiety or they think it kool to appear as if
they are not that interested in the job and the firm will be
lucky to get them. With such behaviour you will be very lucky
if you get the job offer.
Not telling the truth
A cardinal sin. Even if they give you the job it is grounds
for subsequent dismissal. Let them hire the true you not some
fantasy that you have of yourself or your imagined qualifications.
I don’t know anyone who has not put a gloss on their performance
when going for a job they wanted but there is a definite line
between a gloss and telling lies; don’t cross it.
Trying to be funny
Selection is a serious business. Recruiters put their jobs on
the line every time they recommend someone to a senior line
manager. You might think that some light relief might be welcome
in the hard day’s work of a selector and, yes, you will
be remembered but not so you get hired.
Of course you are not going to ‘fess us to being irresponsible
but your past might let you down – not using a gap year
wisely, moving in and out of jobs quickly without adequate explanations,
and yes, it does happen when you do not take the interview seriously
as a coping mechanism for your interview nerves.
Also watch being passionate when disclosing your passion for
bungee jumping, jumping out of perfectly good aircraft or abseiling
off tall buildings unless, of course, you are applying for a
position with the SAS.
Not so much to the interviewer but to the support staff. Quite
frequently I have had someone be charming to me only to discover
later that they have been perfectly obnoxious to my staff. Frequently
a manager will ask his or her secretary “Well, what do
Lacking in motivation
You have to appear as if you want the job for its own sake and
not just as an income stream. If you attend the interview because
“the dole sent you” then mention this right away
and we can both play the game. It is hard enough for managers
to motivate staff anyway so a little motivation at the start
is most welcome.
Interviewers are risk adverse. If you are extreme in any area
alarm bells will start ringing and you will be struck off the
Complaining or blaming
Australians have got it right the English do winge but winging
in an interview will not do you any good. You have to be like
the good salesman who never knocks the competition but just
concentrates on how good his or her product is. In the same
way you have to be positive about previous bosses and previous
employers irrespective of how badly you have been treated. Most
streets are two way and you don’t want the interviewer
thinking about your contribution to a difficult situation.
Being totally self centered
Of course you want the job for your own reason and to do what
you want to do. However if you appear self centered during the
interview then why would you be hired by someone who wants you
for their reasons, to do what they want and to help them achieve
ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall
it be known what is spoken?
Do not answer interviewer’s questions –
respond to them!!
A famous politician once greeted a press conference
with words “Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen now which
of you have questions for my answers?”
The politician knowing what he wanted to say and the points
he wanted to make, ensured that he was going to respond to questions
rather than answer them. In your pre-interview planning you
would have thought about your achievements and those aspects
of your background which match the requirements of the job.
With these in the forefront of your mind you are more likely
to be able to weave your star points into your answers. This
is what we mean by responding to questions.
When you get asked a question by the interviewer
your mind can go through an internal process something like:
I understand the question?
am I being asked the question?
which competency required by the job does this question
of the whole range of all my experience what is the best
or most appropriate answer?
can I illustrate what I want to say through a quantified
work achievement of mine that had a specific benefit to
can I present my answer in an enthusiastic way which will
be easily understood by the interviewer?
This might seem like a tall order but
once you practice answering questions you will be amazed at
how easy it is to respond and to give the most appropriate answer
rather than the exact or precise answer!
USPs are a familiar concept in sales. In a
supermarket, faced with all those breakfast cereals, why choose
the one you do? You do so because of the USPs that you think
it has. Companies spend a lot of money ensuring that their brand
is unique in some way. In preparation for your interview make
sure that you spend a lot of time thinking about what will make
you special and build on this to achieve your USPs. In this
way you can become a brand and, as you know from your supermarket
shopping, the appropriately positioned brand has a far higher
chance of being chosen.
Ask your self the question “What is
there in my experience or skill portfolio that is directly relevant
to this position that the other candidates are unlikely to have?”
For instance for a computing job for a bank
the fact that you have a background in insurance will give you
an edge over those other computer specialists on the short list
who come from a background in retail, manufacturing or say mining.
In your preparation for the interview develop
4 or 5 USPs specifically for the job on offer and weave them
into your answers. Not infrequently some times you get that
gift of a question:
“Why should I recruit you?”
“What makes you special?”
Now having done work on your USPs this
would be a dream to answer!
This is an interesting article from a great
magazine “Psychology Today”. Not only is it a fascinating
read it does have some serious implications for you as an interview
Bill and Hillary Clinton often tell the story
of how they met: They locked eyes across Yale’s law library,
until Hillary broke the silent flirtation and marched straight
over to Bill. Look, if you’re going to keep staring at
me, and I’m going to keep staring back, we might as well
be introduced. I’m Hillary Rodham. What’s your name?
Bill has said he couldn’t remember his own name. It was
quite a first impression, one so powerful that it sparked a
few chapters of U.S. history.
Initial encounters are emotionally concentrated
events that can overwhelm us even convince us that the room
is spinning. We walk away from them with a first impression
that is like a Polaroid picture a head-to-toe image that develops
instantly and never entirely fades. Often, that snapshot captures
important elements of the truth.
Consider one study in which untrained subjects
were shown 20- to 32-second videotaped segments of job applicants
greeting interviewers. The subjects then rated the applicants
on attributes such as self-assurance and likability. Surprisingly,
their assessments were very close to those of trained interviewers
who spent at least 20 minutes with each applicant. What semblance
of a person one with a distinct appearance, history and complex
personality could have been captured in such a fleeting moment?
The answer lies in part in how the brain takes
first-impression Polaroids creating a composite of all the signals
given off by a new experience. Psychologists agree that snap
judgments are a holistic phenomenon in which clues (mellifluous
voice, Rolex watch, soggy handshake, hunched shoulders) hit
us all at once and form an impression larger than their sum.
We do search for one particular sign on a
new face: a smile. We can pick up a smile from 30 meters away,
says Paul Ekman, professor of psychology at the University of
California Medical School in San Francisco, and a pioneer of
research on facial expressions. A smile lets us know that we’re
likely to get a positive reception, and it’s hard not
By the time we flash that return grin, our
Polaroid shutter will have already closed. Just three seconds
are sufficient to make a conclusion about fresh acquaintances.
Nalini Ambady, professor of psychology at Tufts University in
Medford, Massachusetts, studies first impressions carved from
brief exposure to another person’s behavior, what she
calls thin slices of experience. She says humans have developed
the ability to quickly decide whether a new person will hurt
or enrich us judgments that had lifesaving ramifications in
an earlier era.
She believes that thin slices are generated
in the most primitive area of the brain, where feelings are
also processed, which accounts for the emotional punch of some
first encounters. Immediate distrust of a certain car salesman
or affinity for a prospective roommate originates in the deepest
corners of the mind.
The ability to interpret thin slices evolved
as a way for our ancestors to protect themselves in an eat-or-be-eaten
world, whereas modern-day threats to survival often come in
the form of paperwork (dwindling stock portfolios) or intricate
social rituals (impending divorce). The degree to which thin
slices of experience help us navigate modern encounters from
hitchhikers to blind dates is up for debate.
Ekman says that people excel at reading facial
expressions quickly, but only when a countenance is genuine.
Most people cannot tell if someone is feigning an emotion, he
says, unless their eyes have been trained to spot very subtle
expressions that leak through. Consider anger: When we are boiling
mad, our lips narrow an expression we can’t make on demand
when we’re pretending.
And the accuracy of a snap judgment always
depends on what exactly we’re sizing up. Ekman doesn’t
think we can use a thin slice of behavior to judge, say, if
someone is smart enough to be our study partner or generous
enough to lend us a bus token. But we can pretty easily distinguish
one emotion from another, particularly if it’s on the
face for a second or more. Spending more time with a genuine
person, he says, won’t yield a more accurate sense of
that person’s emotional state.
First impressions are not merely hardwired
reactions we are also taught how to judge others, holding our
thin slices up to the light of social stereotypes. Brian Nosek,
professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, studies
the implicit attitudes that enter into our calculations. Just
because someone carries an ACLU membership card or makes a point
to invite their senior-citizen friends to dance-club outings
doesn’t mean they don’t have prejudices bubbling
under the surface. Nosek and colleagues administer a quick online
test that reveals the beliefs people either can’t or won’t
Called the Implicit Association Test, it asks
participants to pair concepts, such as young with good, or elderly
with good. If, in some part of his mind, old is more closely
related to bad than to good, the test taker will respond more
quickly to the first pairing of words than to the second. In
versions of these tests, small differences in response times
are used to determine if someone is biased toward youth over
the elderly, African-Americans over Caucasians or for President
Bush over President Kennedy. When I took the test, says Nosek,
I showed a bias toward whites. I was shocked. We call it unconsciousness-raising,
in contrast to the consciousness-raising of the 1960s.
As subtle as implicit attitudes are, they
can cause serious real-world damage. If an angry person stumbles
upon someone of a different race or religion, he is likely to
perceive that person negatively, according to recent research.
Anger incites instinctive prejudiced responses toward outsiders,
a finding that has important implications for people in law
enforcement and security.
Certain physical features consistently prompt
our brains to take first-impression Polaroids with a distorting
filter. People who have a baby face, characterized by a round
shape, large eyes and small nose and chin, give off the impression
of trustworthiness and naiveté on average, a false assumption.
A pretty face also leads us astray: Our tendency is to perceive
beautiful people as healthier and just plain better than others.
Leslie Zebrowitz, professor of psychology
at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, argues that we overgeneralize
in the presence of baby mugs and homely visages. Humans are
hardwired to recognize a baby as an innocent, weak creature
who requires protection. By the same token, mating with someone
who is severely deformed, and thereby unattractive, may keep
your DNA from spreading far and wide. But we overgeneralize
these potentially helpful built-in responses, coddling adults
with babyish miens who in fact don’t need our care and
shunning unattractive people who may not meet our standards
of beauty but certainly don’t pose an imminent threat
to our gene pool.
Zebrowitz has found that many baby-faced grown-ups,
particularly young men, overcompensate for misperceptions by
cultivating tougher-than-average personalities in an attempt
to ward off cheek-pinching aunts. Think of the sweet-faced rapper
Eminem, who never cracks a smile, or the supermodel-juggling,
hard-partying actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Not every observer is equally likely to draw
unwarranted conclusions about a smooth-cheeked man or a woman
with stunning, symmetrical features. People who spend time cultivating
relationships are more likely to make accurate snap judgments.’
A good judge of personality isn’t just someone who is
smarter it’s someone who gets out and spends time with
people, says David Funder, a professor of psychology at the
University of California at Riverside, who believes in the overall
accuracy of snap judgments. Funder has found that two observers
often reach a consensus about a third person, and the assessments
are accurate in that they match the third person’s assessment
of himself. We’re often fooled, of course, but we’re
more often right.
On the other side of the equation, some people
are simpler to capture at first glance than others. The people
who are easiest to judge are the most mentally healthy, says
Randy Colvin, associate professor of psychology at Northeastern
University in Boston. With mentally healthy individuals, Colvin
theorizes, exterior behavior mimics their internal views of
themselves. What you see is what you get.