In an interview making sure you have answer to every question is key to getting a job. Making sure you had some great interview prep can be the difference between you getting hired or the
In an interview making sure you have answer to every question is key to getting a job. Making sure you had some great interview prep can be the difference between you getting hired or the next person. Take advantage of some of the tips we provide below.
Do you know anyone at this company?
The Real Question: What will they say about you? Will they try to set me up or give it to me straight?
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Top-line Tactic: If you have connections, be 100 percent honest about them—but you should also show why you deserve to be hired on merit.
This question is classified here as a “character question,” for two reasons:
- If you say you know someone at the company, it’s almost certain your interviewer will hunt them down to get a second opinion of, among other things, your character.
- If you say you don’t know anyone at the company and the interviewer knows that’s not true, your character is again revealed—and your reputation for honesty is sunk.
If you do have inside contacts, the issue of whether to admit it is a vexed one. On one hand, you don’t want to appear as though you’ve been overly coached by an insider, since the interviewer might feel that they’re being gamed, or at least not interviewing the real you. There is also the risk that your acquaintance is not well respected in the organization.
On the other hand, it’s never good to pretend you’re a total outsider when you’re not. Quite apart from being morally wrong, there is every chance that your contact will have mentioned you to the interviewer at some point in the past—many industries are small enough for that to be a realistic prospect. And even if you and your ally can keep your prior relationship under wraps, you’ll have to keep up that pretense for as long as all three of you work there.
Far better, then, to come clean about whom you know, but to play down their importance:
I know a couple of your staff, actually, and we’ve spoken in general terms about my coming here, but that wouldn’t affect how I’d approach the job—I’ve got my own ideas about that.
How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
The Real Question: If we hire you, will you be here when we need you? Or are you rapidly going to become a stressed-out, burned-out mess?
Top-line Tactic: They really don’t care about how you keep work apart from your home life; they want to know how you keep your home life and stress away from your work.
The most common advice you’re likely to hear about work/life balance and interviews is don’t discuss it.
Expert after expert will warn candidates about bringing up work/life balance during an interview, as hiring managers generally read such queries as evidence of laziness and a desire to clock out as soon as the second hand hits five o’clock. But what if it’s the interviewer who is bringing up work/life balance?
Don’t be fooled. Chances are good that you haven’t simply stumbled on the nicest company in the world, who will be genuinely concerned you don’t ever miss your kid’s football game or your long-standing Thursday-evening happy hour. Employers aren’t evil, but they are self-interested. If they are asking about work/life balance, chances are they want to be reassured that you can juggle all the stresses and responsibilities in your life without deterioration in your on-the-job performance or rapid burnout.
To this end, reassure the interviewer that you have systems in place to deal with stress and scheduling conflicts, and that the pressures of home will not at all impinge on your ability to do the job.
For me, weekends are really important. I think it’s essential to find some time to completely switch off and recuperate, so that on Monday morning you’re refreshed and ready to go. That often means a long hike or getting out of doors somehow, which I find is a great stress reliever—I even get some of my best ideas on long rambles. I also try to take a quick walk in the park at lunch if I can because I find it clears my mind and helps me perform at my best in the afternoon. Small things like that have really helped me keep burnout at bay over my ten-year career. Plus, a shared calendar with my partner and a really helpful mother-in-law nearby certainly don’t hurt either.
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