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The Secret Guide To Mastering Any job Interview

Looking for a job is always hugely stressful. In fact, when it comes to life’s primary stressors, finding a job is right up there with divorce and the loss of a loved one. No matter how often a person looks for a job, it is still emotionally stressful. If you got fired in your past job, how do you handle that during a job interview? Or if you only spent a year at each of your last two jobs, how do you convince a prospective employer that you will last? If your job is going well, why are you looking around for a new one?

But keep in mind, to get hired, you must get to know the job interview process. You must become an interview expert. Most candidates take a job rejection personally. What many don’t know is that interviewing is a skill that can be learned like any other.

This takes practice, so first of all you have to get as many job interviews as possible! Apply like a crazy person! Even if you’re not certain you want that particular job. If you contact enough companies and make enough calls, eventually you will line up the interviews you need. Each interview you get is a plus…in terms of confidence and know-how.

Also, a little secret all recruiters keep to themselves is that your likeability is more important than your job qualifications. 

Your ability to do the job is only about 20% of the hiring decision...Determining whether you are liked accounts for 40%.

So, don’t think that a job interview is a conversation between equals. First, you have to make the interviewer like you. The questions the average recruiter is trying to answer when meeting you are:

  1. Can you handle the work?
  2. Are you likeable?
  3. Do you pose any risk?
  4. Can I reach a salary agreement with you?



One more thing, once you get an appointment, prepare fully. At the interview, try to adapt to the psychology and point of view of the interviewer. Learn to anticipate the questions you will be asked at an interview, and prepare credible, compelling responses. (If you like to dig deeper, ask us for some sample interview questions and we’ll be more than happy to help you out. We have a database of thousands of questions ranked by difficulty and prevalence.)

Here are some typical questions and some suggestions for your best responses in order to hack even the most demanding interview:

  • “Tell me about yourself and your last few jobs.” – Stick to your career and professional accomplishments.
  • “What was the most difficult part of your last two jobs?” – Use this as an opportunity for you to convey that you gladly accept challenges. Explain what made your last two jobs tough, but follow up by explaining how you overcame those difficulties. Discuss your job challenges in a positive way.
  • “What do people like most about you? What do they like least?” – In terms of likeability, your interviewer wants to hear that people like working with you. Say that you know how to communicate, how to handle yourself during emergencies, and that you never quit.
  • “How do you deal with people...you don’t like and who don’t like you in the workplace?” – Your reaction to this question matters more than your answer. Treat the question as if it does not apply to you. State that you always try to stay on an even keel with all your colleagues. Explain that co-workers should treat each other with respect and that is what you always do.
  • “Why did you leave your last position?” – Your response to this question will make or break your case. Answer it most carefully. Bear in mind that “employers identify with employers.” Do not indicate that you want to leave, or did leave, your firm because management does not, or did not, like you. State that you want to grow professionally and can do so more effectively in a different environment. If you were laid off, be honest about it. Stress that you liked where you worked, but the company had unavoidable cutbacks that included you. You want to convey one main idea: You really like, or liked, your job. Whatever you do, don’t say you need a larger salary, that is the kiss of death.
  • “You...stayed short periods of time in your last three jobs. What went wrong?”– This is a tough question. Try to paint as positive a picture as you can. For example, you might say, “I made some poor career choices in the past. But I have learned from them. After a few false starts, I now know exactly what I want. Your job will be perfect for me. If you hire me, I hope to work for your organisation for a long time to come.”
  • “Where do you see yourself five years from now? Or, how does this job fit into your career goals?” – Again, how you answer this question is as important as what you say. If you admit that you do not have a five-year goal, you will sink your chances. But if you answer that you want to be CEO, you will seem like a fool. One plausible response: “It’s hard to predict what will happen in five years. But I will feel a sense of accomplishment if I am making an important contribution at work.”
  • “Were you fired? And, why?” – Employers understand layoffs, so, if you can, try to present your dismissal as a layoff. Most previous employers will go along with that. Tell the interviewer you liked your job. Stay away from any emotion during your discussion. If it is impossible to avoid the fact that you were fired, be direct. Tell the interviewer that despite your firing, you still like your old firm. Try to shift the discussion to previous jobs where you did well and to the good references that you have from those companies.
  • “What are you currently earning? Or, what have you been earning most recently?” – Answer precisely. Don’t make it appear that you earn more than you do. That would be a terrible mistake. Sometimes, a new employer will contact your old one to see what they paid you. If your new boss learns that you lied, he or she can terminate you on the spot.
  • “What kind of money would you like to earn?” – Handle this common question by saying, “I want to earn a salary that is commensurate with the contributions I can make. I am confident I can make a substantial contribution at your firm. What does your firm plan to pay for this position?”

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer questions that elicit information you really need about the job. They say that the candidates who get the best jobs...ask the best questions. This does not mean that you are allowed to ask anything about the job and firm.  Being uninformed about a potential employer will reflect poorly on you in an interview. You have to be prepared to ask smart and useful questions. Some examples include:

  • “How long have you been here? Could you tell me a little about the culture you have built here” – People like to talk about themselves. This question provides a good opportunity to get the interviewer to open up about the firm.
  • “Are there any internal candidates?” – This is important information. Sometimes, managers plan to hire someone from within their organizations, but they talk to a few external candidates to make their job search activities appear more legitimate. Also, no internal candidates may mean that you are walking into a minefield.
  • “What is the most difficult part of the job?” – The answer the interviewer provides will enable you to adjust your presentation to focus on the strengths you can bring to this challenging aspect of the job.
  • “Why have people in the past failed to do well at this job?” – Listen closely to the response to this question. The answer the interviewer provides may warn you against accepting the job if it is offered.

I hope the above advice has been helpful. If there is one thing to remember is that we all know that job hunting is never fun. However, it becomes downright painful if you have only a few potential employers from whom to seek interviews. The more interviews you arrange, the better your chances are of finding a good job. Getting a job is a numbers game. Numbers of interviews are crucial to getting good offers.