Conventional, Bipartisan Interview Tips

August 30, 2012

I am not a republican. Nor am I a democrat, or a political analyist. I’m a career educator. And I’m a big fan of dreamers, problem solvers, planners, and well-spoken storytellers. As I watched the Republican National Convention, I heard a lot of vague promises, but very few blueprints for change.

All of these political speeches, debates, and rallies are part of a giant, presidential job interview, yes? As I watched, it made me think of the feedback I give students when they interview. College students, job seekers, and presidential hopefuls, allow me to give you a few pointers:


Cut the BS. Did you ever hear the phrase, “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter?” Well, don’t. It makes you seem insincere and unprepared.

Be prepared, do your research. Know who your stakeholders are. More importantly, be prepared to talk about how you can solve their problems.

Be a problem-solver. You don’t need to tell your audience that you’re a problem solver. They do need to hear that you have solved problems in the past, and you know what’s ahead of you.

Talk numbers. Help your audience visualize the impact of the changes you’ve made in the past. Balancing a budget of $5,000 is different than balancing a budget of $5,000,000,000,000. Quantify your accomplishments.

Have a plan. Once you identify the problems at hand, be prepared to talk about how you’re going to fix them. The proof is in the pudding.

Trash the trash talk. Throwing your boss and your coworkers under the bus just isn’t cool. Your accomplishments should be able to speak for themselves. If you are able, avoid talking about your workplace conflicts. Just in case you’re asked, be prepared to politely discuss your differences.

Be a team player. Most interviews are about synergy. If your potential crew thinks you’ll be challenging to work with, they will choose someone else. Find ways to value and respect multiple opinions and viewpoints.

Your references can make or break you. Your wife, your pastor, and your buddies are not appropriate references. Choose folks who know you well, believe in the work you do, and can articulate your professional accomplishments. Avoid people who have their own agenda and who may hog your spotlight.

What are your favorite job interview tips?

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