Winning Job Interviews: Book Review & Real Life Application

This is a guest book review from GE’s wife, who has been doing a little job interview preparation, as she recently was newly unemployed and has been job hunting.

In Winning Job Interviews, Dr. Paul Powers takes you through job hunting, getting the interview, and then how to be successful in the interview. His enthusiasm, positivity and humor not only makes the book an enjoyable read but helps to boost your self esteem for the hunting and interview. Powers also has a collection of worksheets in the back of the book to help you focus and take action on the things you have learned.

How to Get an Interview

The first chapter is titled “Why job hunting sucks”. It is just a taste of the humor job hunters can relate to in this book. The chapter is really about all the potential roadblocks a job hunter could come across and offers simple suggestions to avoid them. The next section educates you on how to be an effective job hunter. The most effective job hunter is going to find the most opportunities, increase their chance of more interviews, and have more job offers.

winning job interviews reviewPowers describes the three techniques for job hunting: postings, networking, and recruiters with statistics on the success of each one. Networking takes the cake, but he emphasizes that it is still important to address your specific situation and additionally use the other resources.

Preparing for a Job Interview

Next, Powers explains how important it is to prepare for the interview. By preparing you can stand out from the rest of the candidates with your knowledge of the company and you can reduce interview anxiety. He lists many techniques to use when researching companies with the library as a primary resource. He also stresses the importance of practicing interviewing with other people and preparing your own questions for the interview. There are worksheets in the back of the book to help you develop the right questions for your practice interview, as well as questions for you to ask the company. Throughout these sections Powers inserts points to boost your self esteem. The one I remember the most, on landing an interview, is this:

“The wind is in your favor. They believe you can do the job already that is why you got the interview.” It is so simple, but I had never thought of it that way.

Job References

There is also a section on the importance of references. Powers suggest that you get in touch with all of your references and have a face to face meeting with them on what they would say about you. This can be valuable because your reference can learn more about the job you are interviewing for and target your specific skills to those desired by the potential employer. This would work well if there is one specific job you are going after but a little more difficult if you have applied for numerous jobs.

Closing the Job Search

The book concludes with a very valuable chapter on closing your job search. Powers highly recommends taking the time to record all of your contacts and information you gathered in an organized manner so on your next job search you are not starting from ground zero. From personal experience, I see this as great advice because during my last job hunt I was not very organized at recording and even saving all the contact information I had gathered. At the time I believed it was not as necessary because I had scored a job I intended to work at for a long time. A year and a half later I have now been laid off and wish I would have done a better job of recording. Hindsight is 20/20!

How I Applied what I Learned in a Successful Interview

I picked up this book after a first interview and realized there was much improvement needed for my scheduled second interview. After assessing my mistakes, I was grateful to have a second chance to immediately apply some of the interview techniques from this book.

Mistake #1: Not enough research on the company.

In the first interview I was asked what I know about the company and why I want to work there. Before the interview I had done some research on projects for the specific position I was interviewing for and not a good general research on the company.  I was able to come up with a sufficient answer, but I could have easily been more prepared.

Solution: Before the second interview I collected all sorts of information on the company so that I could show the interviewers that I was interested in working for them. They never did ask me that question again, but I was more confident in my ability to target answers to other questions so that they reflected the company’s mission.

Mistake #2: Reciting task instead of skills.

For the first interview I had prepared my 30 sec answer for the “Tell me about yourself” question well enough that I did not stumble over the answer. However, I quickly learned from Powers that i forgot to include my talents and skills in this answer.

Solution: I inserted my personal strengths throughout my 30 second speech for the second interview. For example, I changed this task “I have worked on a variety of projects” to this skill “I have worked on a variety or projects with numerous teams due to my ability to work well with others on group projects”.

Mistake #3: Coming across as passive.

In the first interview, the interviewer dominated the interview with a long list of questions for me and before she knew it an hour had flown by and she had to get going. I had the opportunity to ask questions but she was in control of the direction of the interview.

Solution: Powers strongly believes you should walk into an interview with the intent of being in control at an appropriate level of assertiveness. A person with a sense of control radiates confidence, certainty and leadership. One technique I applied, after careful assessment of the situation, was to take lead with asking questions. The lead interviewer was stumbling over remembering a question he had due to getting over a cold. I suggested I ask a few questions to give him a break (a Powers technique) and he seemed very happy by my suggestion. From that point out I took over asking my carefully crafted questions to the interviewers. I could tell from their energy they enjoyed my questions and became more relaxed, which in turn lead to my relaxation.

From Powers and other sources I have determined the best interview tips for a successful interview are:

  • Research on the firm you are interviewing, know why you want to work for this company
  • Have a well crafted 30 sec speech about yourself, know your strengths, boast about them and be confident in yourself
  • Have a list of well crafted questions for the interviewer
  • Practice, Practice, Practice with someone

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