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Commentary on a Psychologist Recommended Interview Strategies by Sarah Weinberger

Job search expert Sarah Weinberger has worked with job seekers for years answering their questions and providing them tools by which to succeed. Her analytical mind bridges the gap between the engineering of a career search and individuals.

She welcomes your questions, and encourages you to send them into her. Please use our contact form or connect with her on LinkedIn. She will select questions to answer and post the answer on this site. Below are some of the questions she received and answered.

July 18, 2014

I read a summary of a book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, probably The Luck Factor, but not sure, which talks about the three most important things to consider, when going for an interview.

Be Nice and Smile: Keeping eye contact, showing enthusiasm, and smiling are an important part of interviewing techniques. Heck, being nice is true for public speaking as well. Looking away, frowning, and otherwise being depressed will only turn off the interviewer. The commentary also stated to show enthusiasm and mention things about the company, which you like, and about the interviewer, possibly even things that you might have in common.

Be Honest: Nobody likes lies. Lies of omission are lies too. Do not think that they are not. If you have a defect, mention it. For instance, if you are not a walking encyclopedia that can memorize everything and regurgitate that later, you might mention that you can always look information up. You should mention whatever your weakness is. Be honest about what you can and cannot do.

Do Not Panic: Do not be afraid or nervous, although that is a normal thing to do, but these qualities will not serve you at the interview. Take some deep breaths, start analyzing your surroundings, and start behaving like you were on the job with that skill. Start thinking about it and how to solve whatever problem. Be professional.

Being honest is always the best policy and hard to do, and one should obviously not be a grouch and continuously look away, however in my humble opinion, knowing what the job calls for, what the company makeup and environment is (how you can fit into company culture), and how you are a team player or can work alone depending upon the position are just as important, if not more important.

When a company hires an individual, they hire someone to fill a need, not someone with whom to talk about the latest throw of a sports figure. Talking sports and dating is nice, but nobody hires for that. People hire the best person at the cheapest price, who they feel can get the job done.

Panic comes into play that you make the other person feel uncomfortable and that you might miss facts that you ordinarily might give. Say, if you panic, and you were asked how many sides does a triangle has, you might say four sides instead of three. Why do I mention something as silly as a triangle? I panicked once on an interview and was asked that question and stupidly said four. I was petrified. I am an engineer and know math cold, but panic can throw a monkey ranch into an otherwise easy question.

The mentioned qualities are important to stay focused (do not panic) and to convey that you want to work at the company (be nice). Actually, being nice has nothing to do with showing that you want to work at a company. That is a separate thing to do. Being nice means not only to smile, but if your boss is fat, do not blurt out that he should lose weight and that his stomach comes out further than his chest. This comment sounds weird, but reality is often weird. Employers want to hire someone who likes the company and wants to stick around a while. Why? It takes time and money to train a new person, and nobody likes change.

You might ask how you can talk about something that you might have in common with a person that you just met. First, if you know the person´s name ahead of time, you can research that person on the internet. Secondly, if that is not the case, then you can always look with an observant eye in the person´s office. They will almost always have something personal that gives away an interest or two, on which you can latch.

I would expand on the essential qualities and state:

  • Be Honest
  • Be Nice
  • Do Not Panic
  • Dress to impress
  • Show Interest in Company and Interviewer
  • Stay Focused
  • Be Observant
  • Break the Ice at an Appropriate Time

Interviewers are people to and they want a person with whom they can relate, not a robot, so at some point, you should break the ice and interject something non-technical. Much depends on the other person. I will not offer a time (beginning, middle, or at the end), but rather say that you should feel that out.

I went further than the three qualities that the psychologist mentioned. All are common sense, but common sense things need to be learned and do not come automatically. For some people they do, and for others, like me, they do not. College graduates, are just that, namely college graduates and no longer students. They are professionals in the work force competing with everyone else.

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