How to ace that job interview

Everyone wants to make a good impression during a job interview. If you’re lucky enough to have a real job interview, rather than a three-minute telephone “interview” with an indifferent recruitment agent, then these tips are for you Wear a … Continue reading

Everyone wants to make a good impression during a job interview. If you’re lucky enough to have a real job interview, rather than a three-minute telephone “interview” with an indifferent recruitment agent, then these tips are for you

  1. Wear a smart suit.
  2. Expect the unexpected.
  3. Be the right amount of extrovert.
  4. Present yourself as honest.
  5. Prepare an answer for every question that it is possible for man to ask, and then some.
  6. Remember the exit justification.
  7. Don’t worry about little things like not having the skills needed for the job.
  8. Create a product-brochure social life to talk about.
  9. Become the world’s foremost expert on the company you are applying to.
  10. Learn method acting for those vexatious personality tests.
  11. Prepare a list of referees who will give glowing reviews.
  12. Ask questions, even if every question it is possible for man to answer has already been answered.
  13. Be enthusiastic about the role.
  14. Pretend money is no issue.

Wear a smart suit.

This is rule number one in the realm of job interviews.

If you’re applying for a managerial or directorship role, wear a suit. If the interview is for a client-facing position, wear a suit. If it’s a back-office position, wear a suit. When applying for a technical position, wear a suit. Office window-cleaner, wear a suit. High-school janitor, wear a suit. Swimsuit model, wear a smart suit.

The whole interview process is, if the interviewer is honest, actually just an extended chance to develop a first impression based on how smart the candidate’s suit is. The more expensive the suit, the more worthy the candidate is for the role, whatever the role might be. As an example, George W Bush has an impeccable collection of smart suits. That should tell you everything you need to know about the power of the suit.

Expect the unexpected.

The days of the straight-forward one-to-one are gone. Expect at least two interviewers, but don’t allow yourself to be surprised if there are three, four, or ten interviewers, and don’t be shocked if half of them are not even physically in the room. Conference calls are a very popular way for lazy executives to talk to people they can’t be bothered to meet in person.

Furthermore, these days almost a third of job interviews are actually just hoaxes set up by hidden-camera television shows. Another third are filmed by television cameras for “serious” reality TV shows or documentaries. Expect anything, and you’ll be okay.

What not to do: Look confused and annoyed while you count the number of interviewers on both hands.

Be the right amount of extrovert.

Smile, chat warmly, nod in agreement to everything that doesn’t involve the torturing and burning of fluffy mammals, and make enough eye contact but not too much eye contact.

Even if you normally frown, scowl and blank your way through the world, and your view of humanity includes opinions that comprise words and phrases like “filth”, “scum” and “should be neutron-bombed back to The Planck Epoch“, you have to put aside your raging disgust and smile like you need a kidney from these people.

At the same time, make sure you don’t take extroversion too far. Sitting on the lap of one of the interviewers will be a minus point in their mind, as will your providing an unprompted dance routine. Be aware of the limits.

What not to do: 1) Assume that they weren’t looking for a candidate with the phoney gusto of a television presenter. 2) The reverse pterodactyl.

Present yourself as honest.

Even though you will need to lie through your teeth to pass ninety-nine percent of job interviews, it’s still very important that the interviewers don’t realise that not a single person on Earth actually matches every point on the job specification.

To make sure that treacherous body language doesn’t point the finger of guilt at you, rehearse your “truths” to an imaginary interviewer in a quiet place. Avoid doing this while on public transport. If you rehearse often enough, you will eventually appear to believe your lies. Just look at any salesman if you need an accomplished example of this “success method”.

What not to do: Tell the truth, or develop a twitch if you get close to exaggerating any of your positive points.

Prepare an answer for every question.

I have a friend who, in a serious job interview, was asked: “You are in a field. A UFO suddenly lands near you. What would you say to those aliens?”. You must have a strong answer to every question.

Even though a question like this will, in most people, create the desire to cause real injury to the interviewer, put down the staple-gun and take a deep breath. They probably just want to check that your role play answer involves you wearing your smart suit, and that it shows your Earth-leadership potential and your just-extrovert-enough nature, and that your first-contact speech includes at least two plugs for the company you are applying to.

Also beware of questions that are designed to trick you into revealing the fact you don’t want to work late every night, that you don’t still think of business travel to foreign countries as exciting, or that you have broken copy-machines with the weight of your ass in previous roles.

What not to do: Reply to a question with “I don’t know,” or “You are fucking shitting me, right?”

Remember to justify previous exits.

The interviewer may like to find out why you left your last role. Make it clear that the role wasn’t allowing you to fulfil your potential, and that you were eager to expand your portfolio of responsibilities.

Whatever the reason you actually left your previous roles, never tell the interviewer that your reason for leaving was that you wanted more money. Also avoid telling them of reasons for leaving that include broken copy-machines, lawsuits, or being legally prohibited from entering certain office buildings.

What not to do: Tell them you left your previous role because another month there would have led to you going postal.

Don’t worry about skills.

Just because the role asks for a huge list of skills you’ve never heard of does not mean you cannot be chosen for the role. Assure the interviewer that you have the skills they need.

Occassionally an interviewer may ask you tricky-sounding questions about some of the skills you have adopted on your CV. Don’t worry, though. The interviewer does not know anything about the skills either. In fact, the interviewer will probably pronounce the name of the skill or the technology incorrectly. (“You can do D&S using binned eight and nine, right?”) They are only asking in a bid to increase the length of the interview so that they can spend a little more time checking your suit is really as smart as your harsh ironing suggests.

A quick search on Google for the skills you need to “have” will allow you to easily bluff your way through technical questions.

What not to do: Only talk about skills you actually have, and pray they value potential.

Describe a varied social life.

“Best of all, my new phone lets me check my share portfolio from up here.”

The interviewer will want to hear about a full and varied list of social activities.

Even though you probably spend three nights a week with three friends at a food or drink establishment, and spend the other four nights watching soap operas on television, don’t make this fact known. The interviewer will believe that only a socially hyperactive worker is a commercially productive worker.

An interviewer may use the word “hobbies” to enquire along this line, but don’t be fooled. Whereas the word “hobbies” usually means lonely, specialist interests such as garden shed nuclear research, all they’re really interested in is how many sociable outdoor pursuits you engage in. Essential activities to include in your answer are: five-a-side football; synchronised skydiving; flashmobbing; returning the One Ring to Mount Doom; and whitewater rafting with at least a half-dozen friends. The important thing is that your personal time is energetic and sociable. Note that while dogging fits this description, it is a bad idea to list it as a hobby.

What not to do: Mention online gaming, and then moan about how much you hate deathmatch servers that kick you for swearing, even though lethal violence is part of the game.

Know the company you intend to work for.

Even if you’re applying to be a toilet cleaner, the interviewer will fully expect you to know the current share price of the company, the projected EBITDA for the next financial year, and the names of the chief executive’s wife and mistress.

Again, a quick look on Google will turn up the company website, from where you can glean the knowledge you need.

What not to do: Mention in the interview that you’ve never seen the company website. Especially if the role is administrator of the company website.

Prepare for personality testing.

As a way to make the interview process longer and more convoluted, interviewers love to have candidates complete psychometric questionnaires. These purport to inform the interviewer about a candidate’s suitability for the role.

In truth, most tests have questions that offer one sensible option, two meaningless options, and one bad option. For example, on an application form for a London finance house, one question was “How would you deal with colleagues disagreeing with your proposals?”, and the good answer was: “Listen to their concerns, and work with them to smooth over conflicts.” The bad answer was: “Talk louder and faster until you get your way.” No matter what your personality actually dictates, choose the answer that doesn’t involve shouting, deception, unilateral action, or going postal. If in doubt, put yourself “in the role” to get a feeling for the “suitable” answer. Books on method acting will help you to get into the mind of the ideal candidate.

What not to do: Tailor your answers to match your personality.

Offer a list of referees.

“Absolutely, yeah. We couldn’t have run this department without him.”

To get a feeling for your ability to work with others, the interviewers may require you to give them a list of former colleagues and bosses who can be contacted to discuss your attitude to work.

Be sure to phone some friends before the interview and fill them in on their cover stories. A long-time drinking friend could play the role of a former department manager, for instance. For such a role, choose a friend who is a skilled liar. Friends with a conscience will not help you to succeed in job interviews.

What not to do: Sigh when asked for a list of referees and say “I think they’d all probably use swearwords to describe me.”

Be ready to ask questions.

No matter how thorough the interviewer has been in describing the role you would be filling, make sure to ask at least several questions before you leave. But wait until the interviewer says: “Okay, I think that’s it. Is there anything you’d like to ask before we finish?”

Interviewers think that failing to ask questions is the sign of a candidate who simply doesn’t have an interest. So feign a fascination with what you’ve learnt by asking questions that will cause the interviewer to repeat what has already been said. That way, they’ll know you care.

What not to do: Say, “No, no questions. I’ll probably think of one just as I get on the bus home.”

Be enthusiastic about the role.

“Filing, tea making, and I get to clean the toilets on a rota basis? Yes!”

Nodding in agreement, asking positive questions about a typical day in the role, and flaring your eyes occasionally are all indications that you can’t wait to get started, so make sure you look excited.

If the role involves sharpening pencils five days a week, look excited. If the role is shift-based, and entails enough rota-shifting to induce jet-lag, look impatient to begin. If the job causes ninety-seven percent of employees to suffer nervous breakdowns, then pull a face like you can’t believe you didn’t apply years ago. Whatever the role, make it clear to the interviewer that you’ve finally found your calling.

What not to do: Hmm and tut when the interviewer describes responsibilities of the role, and say “no, I refuse to do that.”

Pretend you don’t care about the pay.

If you work real hard you might keep your job till next month.

The company will, of course, hope to pay you as little as possible. For example, I have a friend who earns his employer several hundred pounds each hour he works. They pay him minimum wage. You need to be prepared to go along with this.

The role may require you to work in the most expensive part of the country, and expect you to work more hours each week than biologists in the fifties believed it possible for humans to remain awake each fortnight without dying, but if you want the role you have to accept that you’re just one small part in a heap of small parts. The feeling of worthlessness is something you’ll get used to, so sign that contract before asking about the money, and console yourself in the knowledege that you’ll be contributing to the financial security of the chief executive, the board of directors and the company shareholders. They’re bound to appreciate it.

What not to do: Think about whether or not you can actually live on that level of salary.

The Successful Interview

10 Things You Must Do Before That Successful Interview You’ve worked hard to get here. You’ve sent out 31 resumes, networked, attended job fairs, enrolled in school for more education – you’ve taken all the right steps. Then, one afternoon … Continue reading

10 Things You Must Do Before That Successful Interview

You’ve worked hard to get here. You’ve sent out 31 resumes, networked, attended job fairs, enrolled in school for more education – you’ve taken all the right steps.

Then, one afternoon the phone rings. “Yes, we’d like you to come in for an interview. Is next Tuesday at 10:00 alright with you?” Alright???!!! You can be there in 10 minutes! But you gather your composure, pretend to rifle through your “appointment book” and calmly reply, “Yes, Tuesday at 10:00 works for me. See you then.” Now what?

The sequence goes like this: the resume gets you an interview; the interview gets you the job. This is when you become more than a bunch of employment dates and workplace accomplishments. This is your opportunity to shine. It’s show time!

Go in cold and you’re working at a disadvantage. You prepped the perfect resume, now it’s time to prep for that all-important interview. Here are ten steps you should take before you show up at the interviewer’s door.

  1. Review your resume.Sure, you know it by heart. But what was it that caught the eye of this recruiter or the HR pro? Specialized experience? Unique training? A steady history of career advancement? Revisit your resume from the point of view of the interviewer. It may provide insight into the company’s employee needs – something that would certainly be advantageous to know going in.
  2. Get back on-line.The Internet served you well in the preparation of personalized cover letters targeted at the recipients’ needs. Okay, visit the company web site again and start taking notes. Corporate officers, the latest press releases, the company’s annual report. Gather as much information as you can on your soon-to-be-employer.
  3. Study, study, then cram.The more you learn about your callback company, the better you’re going to feel walking in that door. Knowledge is power. Knowledge will make you more confident in your attitude and your answers. You know this stuff. You’ve studied it! Knowledge of company products, services, protocols and procedures shows the interviewer that you’re proactive, with an eye for detail and an appreciation for the power of preparation. In other words, you’ll make a positive impression.
  4. Rehearse your interview.How can you rehearse for something that doesn’t have a script? Write one. You know the typical questions you’ll be asked so write down some of your most insightful, witty thoughts regarding the state of your industry and profession. Be prepared to describe past positions, responsibilities and accomplishments. This is not a time for false modesty, so don’t be afraid to highlight your professional strengths and play down your terrible typing skills. Remember: it’s no brag if it’s the truth. Ask your spouse, your child or a friend to play the role of interviewer so you become more comfortable speaking about yourself in front of others. Again, this is a confidence builder. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll be.
  5. Develop your list of questions.Your interview shouldn’t be seen as some type of interrogation. It’s a “getting to know you” meeting, so feel free to ask questions. However, your first question shouldn’t be “How much do I get paid?” or “How’s the 401k plan, here?” Instead, ask questions that show you understand the job and the company’s needs. Be quick to pick up on the interviewer’s comments and ask relevant questions.

    Interviewer: We’ve had some issues with field reports coming in late recently. You: How are the reports transmitted? (Oh, you’re good. Very good.)

  6. Dress for success.An interview is a performance with people playing different roles. Your role is successful job prospect. Play the part. Whether you’re female or male, the conservative business suit is the recommended attire for any interview. If your business suit needs a pressing, send it to the dry cleaners. If you don’t own a suit (you’d be surprised at the number of us who don’t) go out and get one. It doesn’t have to be an $800 designer suit, but it should be conservative black, blue or gray.
  7. Get cut or coiffed.You’ll have 15 minutes to make a good impression. Treat yourself to a visit to the local hair stylist. You bet looks matter. There will be plenty of time to show your talent once you land the job. For now, look like a success, feel like a success – be a success.
  8. Practice positive visualization.Professional athletes do it. So do actors, yoga instructors and new age thinkers who sleep under makeshift pyramids to absorb that mystical energy. It’s called positive visualization – and it works. It really does. In the days leading up to the interview, picture yourself sitting opposite the head of HR. Picture yourself relaxed, comfortable, at the top of your game. Play that clip over and over in your mind until it becomes so familiar, it actually becomes a part of your self-image. It simply can’t be stated too often – your confidence during an interview should be obvious and genuine.
  9. Gather your materials.The day before the interview, gather your materials and place them in a briefcase or attaché. Don’t have one? Buy one or borrow one. It’s another opportunity to project that professional image you wear so well. Bring extra copies of your resume in a manila envelop. Bring a pad and pencil to take notes. Bring a calculator (you never know). Bring your address book and copies of your business card. If you’ve been asked to provide additional information (school transcripts, e.g.) make sure you’ve got clean copies ready to hand over.
  10. Sleep tight.You’ve done it all. You’ve prepared yourself; you’ve built your confidence so you can look the interviewer straight in the eye. You are ready to rock ‘n’ roll! Okay, too psyched. You’ll never get to sleep. The night before the interview, go to bed early. Have some warm milk, cocoa or herbal tea (stay away from the 3rd scotch). Relax. Set the alarm and sleep comfortably in the knowledge that you’re as prepared as you’ll ever be. No, not every interview will be a success. You won’t get the job every time – but don’t take it personally. It’s not about you; it’s about the needs of the company. However, you can increase the chances of success by presenting a professional, prepared, and confident you to the interviewer. That’s how you turn an interview into a job offer.

You’re hired!

- Teena Rose

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and a professional resume writer with Resume to Referral. She’s authored several books, including “20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer” and “Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.”

4.5 million people no job for a year or more

WASHINGTON (AP) — For more Americans, being out of work has become a semi-permanent condition. Nearly one-third of the unemployed — nearly 4.5 million people — have had no job for a year or more. That’s a record high. Many … Continue reading

WASHINGTON (AP) — For more Americans, being out of work has become a semi-permanent condition.

Nearly one-third of the unemployed — nearly 4.5 million people — have had no job for a year or more. That’s a record high. Many are older workers who have found it especially hard to find jobs.

And economists say their prospects won’t brighten much even after the economy starts to strengthen and hiring picks up. Even if they can find a job, it will likely pay far less than their old ones did.

The outlook is unlikely to improve on Friday, when the government issues its monthly jobs report. Economists predict it will show that employers added a net 56,000 jobs in September.

That’s far fewer than needed to reduce unemployment. The unemployment rate is expected to remain 9.1 percent for a third straight month.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week called long-term unemployment a “national crisis” and said it should be one of Congress’ top priorities.

When people are out of work for a year or more, their skills often decline. Their professional networks shrink. Companies hesitate to hire them. The problem feeds on itself.

“It’s a serious threat,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “A growing proportion of the labor force is becoming disenfranchised.”

Long-term unemployment sets this recession and weak recovery apart from any other period since the Great Depression. Though the economy has endured “jobless recoveries” before, in no previous recovery has such a high proportion of the unemployed been out of work this long.

Labor Department figures show that for roughly the past year and a half, one in three of the unemployed have been without a job for at least a year. That’s more than double the previous peak after the 1981-82 recession.

Businesses would have to start hiring much faster before a larger proportion of the long-term unemployed would find work. Many employers see them as riskier than other potential hires. Some might need additional training. Companies aren’t likely to take such risks until the economy shows consistent strength.

Brian Wedding, a roofing contractor based in Baton Rouge, La., acknowledges that he spends more time evaluating job applicants who have been unemployed for long periods.

“A flag’s going to come up, for sure,” says Wedding, CEO of Jasper Contractors, which employs about 800 at nine locations nationwide. “We’ll have to dig a little deeper into what’s going on.”

Those who have been out of work for many months describe troubling experiences.

Linda Evans, 59, a home health care worker in Washington, D.C., has struggled to find work since her last employer left the area three years ago. She applies for openings online and attends job fairs. But she’s found it difficult even to get interviews.

“I don’t know if it’s my age or what,” she said. “I never expected to be in this situation. And I’m scared.”

Long-term unemployment affects the economy in key ways:

— It lowers skill levels, making it harder to match the unemployed with available jobs. Harry Holzer, a Georgetown University economist, said that once hiring picks up, employers tend to complain that they can’t find people with the new skills they need. Companies are already having trouble filling advanced manufacturing jobs, Holzer said.

— More people rely on government benefits. Unemployment benefits were extended during the recession to a record 99 weeks in states with the highest unemployment rates. The number of people receiving food stamps topped 45 million in May. That’s another record. Older workers unable to find jobs often draw their Social Security benefits earlier. Many also have health problems and end up on government disability programs.

— The long-term unemployed who do find jobs again will likely do so at lower pay. A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that the long-term unemployed earn, on average, 20 percent less when they finally find work.

Still, it’s hard to predict the economic outcome because no one has seen such levels of long-term unemployment before, said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” he said. “Those people are going to have inferior outcomes in earnings and employment well beyond the current weakness in the labor market.”

During the recession, the proportion of the unemployed out of work for more than a year rose, as it typically does during a downturn. Yet even as the economy has modestly recovered, the figure has worsened.

Several factors help explain why. With the economy still struggling just to grow, unemployment has stayed chronically high. The rate has been 9 percent or higher in every month but two since the recession ended in June 2009. That’s the longest such stretch since World War II.

Another factor is the aging of the work force. The huge generation of 78 million baby boomers is nearing retirement. Though older workers are less likely to lose their jobs, when they do, they typically struggle more to find work again.

That’s because older workers frequently have skills specific to their former jobs, which they typically had held for decades.

“When they get laid off, those skills are not worth as much to a new employer,” said David Wyss, former chief economist at Standard & Poor’s and a visiting fellow at Brown University.

President Barack Obama last month proposed steps to try to aid the long-term unemployed. His proposals include a tax break for companies that hire them and a ban on discriminating against them in hiring. But some economists think more drastic action is needed.

Brian Bethune, an economist at Amherst College, favors permanently reducing the Social Security tax, a portion of which employers must pay for each of their workers. Bethune would replace it with a sales tax.

“If you want to attack (the problem), you have to do something dramatic,” he said. “It cries out for some fairly significant change.”


A theoretical physicist, an engineer, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job. The interviewer calls in the engineer and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The engineer replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The enginner looks … Continue reading

A theoretical physicist, an engineer, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.

The interviewer calls in the engineer and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The engineer replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The enginner looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”

The interviewer calls in the theoretical physicist and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The physicist replies “That depends.” The interviewer asks “what do you mean?” The physicist looks at the interviewer with disdain and says “It will take me 11 year to explain that to you but you might not understand anyway.”

Then the interviewer calls in the economist and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The economist says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to be equal to”?

Should You Drink At Job Interviews?

via Should You Drink At Job Interviews? Years ago I was on a job interview. I was having lunch with the boss (I’m call him Jim) and his second-in-command (I’ll call him Jack). It came to ordering time, and here’s how … Continue reading

via Should You Drink At Job Interviews?

Years ago I was on a job interview. I was having lunch with the boss (I’m call him Jim) and his second-in-command (I’ll call him Jack). It came to ordering time, and here’s how a portion of the conversation could have gone:

Jim: “Do you want a drink (as in beer, wine, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc)?”
Me: “No thanks.”
Jim: “You sure?”
Me: “Yes. I’ll have water.”
Jim: “Come on. It’s on us.”
Me: “I’m fine. Thanks.”
Jim: “Well, Jack and I are going to have one.”
Jack: “We sure are. Jim has a company credit card, and we’re going to put it to good use.”

They sure did. I only remember two things about that two hour interview. 1) Jim and Jack got loaded and were slurring their questions to me. 2) And I’m glad I didn’t follow their lead.

You never know what’s going to happen at job interviews. Maybe that’s what makes them so scary to many people. The whole thing is a test to see if you’ll fit in with the company. A slam dunk, and you’re in. Throw up a brick, and it’s on to the next interview.

That lunchtime interview with Jim & Jack? I didn’t get the job. Maybe it was a test. I doubt it. I don’t think they even remembered me. But I remember them, and they were sure entertaining.