Win an interview

Three unbelievably cool things happened to me this week.

I now have the first hardcover copies of my new book in my hands. It’s a real thing now!

CEO of Fortune 500 company told me he’d been following my interviews with Eric Gan about how to get a job at Google, or anywhere.

He asked how his company could adopt some of those same practices.

I am glad – Someone is listening!

Next week, a new job-seeker spotted me in Kopitiang cafe.

“I read every one of your articles about resumes and what Google looks for, did what you said, and just started at Google last week. I just want to thank you for helping me get hired by Google.”

Noogler candidate (new + Googler)’s expression: you’ve got an awesome resume. You’ve avoided the errors that plague almost 60% of resumes, nailed the right keywords, and your accomplishments burst from the page.

Now you’ve got the interview.

  • Convince the person on the other side of the table to hire you
  • Win the interview

The fact is that most of us aren’t very good at interviewing to her/his advantage.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression” was the tagline for a Head & Shoulders shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s.

This unfortunately encapsulates how most interviews work.

Two psychology students collaborated with their professor to report in a study that judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could predict the outcome of the interview.

They recorded interviews, and showed thinner and thinner “slices” of the tape to college students.

For majority of variables they tested — like intelligence, ambition, and trustworthiness — they found that observers made the same assessments as the interviewers.

Even without meeting the candidates, when shown a clip as short as 10 seconds, or with the sound turned off.

In other words, “interviewing” = actually the pursuit of confirmation bias.

Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds.

“Tell me about yourself.”

“What is your greatest weakness?”

“What is your greatest strength?”

Isn’t it Worthless?

Make it to Raffles Place

How do you get to the venue? Practice. Same goes for getting a job.

In business school, you might have practiced interview answers — out loud — could tell each story smoothly, without thinking about it; not so smoothly that you were bored with the re-telling.

Your siblings find you reciting again and again, why you thought you were a great leader.

They figured you were stuck in some kind of self-help loop.

But you get 3 job offers from 5 companies, and on track to get another 2 before stopping interviewing.

How is that possible? Practice.

Read the room

Look around. Focus on the interviewer.

In the first 10 seconds, is there anything in their office, or about them, you can notice and use to forge a connection?

  • A book on a shelf – either you might have read it, or you know how good it is
  • A family photo – appreciate the child in the photo
  • painting – admire and say something about the artist (only if you know correctly)
  • Read the interviewer:                                                                                                                                         Is their body language open or closed?

Are they tired and should you try to pep them up?

Do they like your answer or should you veer in another direction?

Your future

You can anticipate 90% of the interview questions you’re going to get.

In addition to three of them above, it’s an easy list to generate.

  • “Why do you want this job?”
  • “What’s a tough problem you’ve solved?”

Write down the top 20 questions you think you’ll get.

Plan your attack

For EVERY question, write down your answer.

It is not easy to actually write something. It’s hard and frustrating. But it makes it stick in your brain. That’s important. You want your answers to be automatic. You don’t want to have to think about your answers during an interview.

Have a backup plan

Actually, for every question, write down THREE answers.

Why three? You need to have a different, equally good answer for every question because the first interviewer might not like your story.

You want the next interviewer to hear a different story.

Prove yourself

Every question should be answered with a story that proves you can do what you’re being asked about.

For example, “How do you lead?” should be answered with “I’m a collaborative/decisive/whatever leader. Let me tell you about the time I ….”

Always tell a story or have facts to prove you are what you say you are.

Let us know, if you need assistance in preparing for the Interview.


Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise

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