So, you’re preparing for a job interview and are worried about, THE question. You know, the one that will stump you and may prevent you from getting the job. How do you prepare for this? If you focus on the right thing and approach it with the right perspective, believe it or not, this is an easy task.

I was teaching a class the other night and we were talking about integrity. One of my students relayed an experience she had during a job interview and wanted some feedback from the class on how they would have approached this. With no other background information, her interviewers gave her the following scenario: The head of the company was going to give a presentation to an important client. She was helping to put together the presentation and noticed some pretty glaring errors in the numbers that were being used. What would she do?

During the interview, the dilemma she was faced with was pretty obvious. Not knowing what they were getting at, the following questions ran through her mind: 1) Were they looking for courage to question the CEO’s numbers? 2) Was there a problem with integrity in the organization and they wanted to see what she would do? 3) Was there a problem with the CEO and how he took criticism? 4) Were they looking for someone who wouldn’t rock the boat and just go along with the bad numbers? How should she answer the question?

Before I get to the answer, let’s put job hunting in perspective.

  1. You may need a job badly, but is your job hunt about finding an organization that you would be lucky to work for, or, is it about finding a company that would be lucky to have YOU!
  2. Would you be willing to compromise your integrity just to get a job?
  3. Do you care about where you work? Enron for example!
  4. Have you stopped to think about who you are and what your talents are?

Now that I’ve asked the questions, here are some thoughts to help you.

  1. If you’re looking for a job, you have to know who you are. During this economy, a best seller from the 1970’s is again rising to the top of the charts, and with good reason. Do yourself a huge favor and go get “What Color is Your Parachute” or another awesome book called “Do What You Are”. These books will give you some insight into your talents, desires and abilities.
  2. You should care about the company you are applying to. Do your homework. Why do you want to work there in the first place? If your answer is because you saw they had an opening, I’d think twice about applying – unless it was in an industry or occupation that you were targeting of course.
  3. If you think you need to answer an interview question correctly to get the job, you’re imposing a REALLY big hurdle for yourself that will only increase your level of anxiety. The only correct answer is the one that aligns with who you are.
  4. Job hunting is about finding someone lucky enough to have YOU. If you want to exude confidence, you need to humbly give off the impression that you matter. That they would be lucky to have you on their team. Approaching them with the idea that you HAVE to get THIS job, is a kiss of death. Like dogs, the people doing the interview can smell fear and desperation a mile away.
  5. Never, Ever, give up your integrity to get a job. This may be hard advice to follow if you are really hurting financially, but it is for the best. How would you like to get a job now, only to end up in jail or in the newspapers a year from now?
  6. Remember – there is always another opportunity out there somewhere.

How would I have approached the interview question? Give an honest answer. In our discussion during class, my student said she told them she would point out the error. Good for her. She never did get that job, and doesn’t know if her answer had anything to do with it. However, she did get another job. One she loves.

So – how do you approach interviews? Be yourself. Give honest answers. Don’t worry about what the interviews “want” to know. If you give them a dishonest answer, everyone loses. You will find the right job, in the right organization, if you are true to yourself. So don’t stress out. Go find someone that will be lucky to have You!

All the best,
All the time
JT