May 19, 12
Read in January, 2012
This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine while we were talking about internships, job applications, and that sort of general process. I bought it in November but haven’t really had the time to devote to it (I saw some worksheets and figured it was more of a “dedicate-some-time-to-this” book). Today, I decided to finally pick it up and flip through it and BOY am I glad I did.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate, a post-graduate student, or already established in a career, the prospect of an interview is never an irrelevant matter. I know we’ve all been in the position where we nervously anticipate what questions we’ll be asked and how best to approach sensitive topics. I also know that we’ve all been in that position where we walk out of the interview with sweaty palms, shaking our heads in a permanent “WTF just happened” mode. Not a fun feeling.
So of course, getting a little insight into how to best handle those stressful situations is always a good idea. I have to say, this book surpassed my expectations. First of all, Chapter One goes through in detail encouraging you to take inventory of your own life and scrutinize things like past internships/jobs, skills that you developed, activities you’ve participated in, etc. Yes, it takes some time. You systematically make your own data sheet or fill out the ones in the book. It’s a bit time consuming, but I was really surprised as to how much I rediscovered about myself!
Now, I know the title of the book says 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions. Yes, he does give certain sample answers, but more importantly he explains what works well and what doesn’t for all the questions in a generalized manner. You’d be surprised to see that certain ‘sure-thing’ answers are actually not the way to go. What I appreciated about this book was that it doesn’t provide answers for slackers (sorry) to simply memorize and parrot out to the interviewer. It urges you to evaluate yourself and focus on turning your negatives into learning experiences and positive aspects. I’ve never been good at answering questions like “What are your personality strengths” or “What are your negative traits”, but this forced me to take a look at my performances and figure out things in detail. I took that and used it to answer sample questions according to my personality, strengths, and goals, while keeping in mind the types of positions I’m looking for.
I ended up with 8 pages of typed notes.
The best part about this is, I learned so much that I can apply to the work I’m doing right now, just between being a graduate student and working in group projects and with teams. Having everything laid out in an organized, honest fashion allowed me to take a look at what works, what doesn’t, and how I can use it in everyday life. I consider that a serious win. Two and a half hours of my life well spent, I’d say!
I had some reservations about posting about this book. Suppose a potential employer stumbles across this post? Will they question my interview responses and wonder whether they’re just taken from some book? Well, if I do get an interview, I hope to show that all my responses are catered directly to the position at hand, the company I’m going for, and my own personal facts. The book doesn’t do that for you, you have to put that extra effort in yourself. Secondly, is it ever a bad thing to be prepared? I don’t think so. I would hope that it shows initiative and an urge to better oneself. I personally like learning new things about myself and while I’m not the most open person in the world to finding out I’ve done something wrong (who does like that?), I do like to learn from my mistakes. It’s just nice to identify them before someone points them out to you
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is in between jobs, expecting to go on a lot of interviews, and even to people who are in team-work and management roles! If you’re willing to put in the effort of considering what is being discussed, rather than skimming through just the advice portions, you could really find a lot about yourself as a leader, a teammate, and a person.