Performing on a job interview

In my experience, job interviews either suck or they’re great. They’re hardly ever in between.

I went from having nothing on my curriculum vitae (CV) to getting hired after applying for over 115 jobs at the age of 19. I had no work experience, no courses, no references, no mentor, I had absolutely nothing. The way I got to the interview itself was through a few close connections. I bet you can imagine that when you’re 19 and have thousands of dollars of credit card debt, this job was essential. Any job was essential. I needed money and I needed it bad. 

So before the job interview I sat down with my dad who has been through this many times before and we had mock-interviews. One after the other, to the point where I basically had a script.

I thought I was really fucking prepared and I was.

The thing about interviews is that they’re usually pretty fixed. Most people are asked the same questions or variations of them. There are plenty exceptions to this rule. However there’s a reason for them asking all the questions they do, it’s often to make you reflect on yourself, your personality, your strengths and your flaws. So what is often asked?

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. And what are your weaknesses?

These two are always there. Hardly anyone goes through an interview without being asked it. For those of us who have been through an interview before, we know how difficult this can be to answer as well. My strengths? Well that’s always fairly easy, most of us have an idea of what we’re good at. When it comes to what our weaknesses are however, things get more tricky or at least people make it seem this way.

Job interviews aren’t a thing to make you boast about your accomplishments and how great you are at everything. The most important question is actually what your weaknesses are. Why? Because it’s what makes the interviewer know whether you’re real or whether you’re faking it on the interview. It’s the “make or break” question.

Be honest. I’m a structured guy, but sometimes I take on too much at a time. I run a company, starting the second, have two jobs on the side and a university course.. I have a busy life. I’m also very systematic and if things aren’t done according to how I do things I get anxious, less productive and annoyed. I also hate people who basically chew up their fork when they eat lunch.

These are all flaws of mine. Flaws I’m oddly enough proud of. The key to answering this question well is not to be as honest as an angel, you need to find the right thing to say. If you say you can’t work with many people at one project, you’re at a disadvantage. Yet if you say that your weakness is that you’re easily distracted in groups of many, you’re not saying something that bad. Find your flaws, but don’t make them seem like they’re horrendous. Don’t say you can’t write, say you sometimes struggle with writers-block.

The “tread carefully” questions

  1. Tell us about yourself
  2. Why do you want this job?
  3. What are your expectations of management and your co-workers?
  4. Why did you leave your last job?

These questions are scary, if you’re unprepared. Who you are as a person is a great way for your boss to check whether you’re a cocky asshole, a guy in the shadows or just a down to earth guy or gal. Don’t boast about your achievements, be humble.

You should have a clear vision of why you want the job you’re interviewing for. Through this you should have a good understanding of what the firm does and what your task will be. Through this you will also be able to answer questions such as “what do you think about your salary?”. You should know everything about the job. When answering about salary, try to find the median in your field. When answering about your co-workers you should explain that you’re someone who makes stuff happen, with others. Others can depend on you to finish your assignments, your boss for example, yet others can always know that they can come to you for help and vice versa.

So why did you leave your last job?

In my eyes, this is also about honesty. Don’t give them a poor impression of you, e.g say that you left because your boss was a cuck. Honesty goes a long way. If you were terminated and it didn’t exactly go very well, say that with some motivation for the future. Perhaps the past hasn’t been so great, but the future will. Tell them the honest truth about why you left, and then tell them how this job will be a better fit.

Lastly, be charming, be humble, be a person. People who do bad at interviews are usually not prepared and they can’t have a flowing conversation. My best interviews and interviewers have all included a hint of laughter, seriousness and enjoyment. Let your personality shine through and make them like you. You need to separate yourself from the hundreds of other applicants. Most people are stiff as an arrow, nervous, sweaty, sit incorrectly and have wrong body language. Don’t do that. Don’t be “just another guy”. Be the guy who was taken seriously, but with a hint of charm and enjoyment.

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