If there is one thing I know, it’s that getting a job is hard. Not only do you have to show them in a brief cover letter and resume that you’d be a good fit for the job, but even if you get the interview you have to be both more professional, personable, sociable, and huggable than all the other candidates. One wrong move, whether it be wearing assless chaps, pulling out and eating a burrito during your interview, or asking to compare the color of each others mucus, could immediately end your prospective career at Blinds to Go.
As someone with too much experience interviewing and making common mistakes like saying my potential boss sounds terrible to work for, I am using all my excessively wonderful knowledge of the interview process to create the most comprehensive and wonderful guide that was made by someone who is terrible at interviewing and proud of it. Following all of my steps will ensure interview success and the beginning of the career of your dreams, regardless of how lame your dreams are!*
Greg’s Ultimate Interview Prep Guide:
Identify whether the company likes Obama or thinks Obama is a Kenyan: No matter how much people say they want to avoid politics, everyone has a strong feeling on the topic of Obama, and identifying a company or interviewer’s opinion of our current president will be incredibly helpful in not only identifying a great topic to converse about (“Oh man, that Obama! What an upstanding dude!” or “Oh man, that Obama! I can’t believe he and his shadow czars fool everyone!”); it’ll also create the basis for much of your interview prep.
Get to know your interviewer: Your interviewer will be looking at your resume, your cover letter, and — potentially — your social media accounts and what comes up when they google you. The thought of them knowing so much about you, like that time you tried to smuggle a panda from China, might get you a bit nervous, which is the biggest interview faux-pas, no-no, and don’t-do-that-Jack. As such, you need to even the playing field. Start by looking at them on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but remember that that’s just going to give you a basic idea of who they are — and that’s assuming you can find info on them! In order to make sure you are thoroughly educated about the person you will interview with you should hire a private detective to follow them and root around in their past. If you discover something like their secret family or IBS that’s also a perfect topic to casually bring up during your conversation and bond over.
Wear only hemp/milk-based or wool clothing: This part is open-ended, based on the answer to the previous question. If you’re going to work for a progressive company, it’s important to show your love of the environment by only wearing hemp or, if it won’t offend their senses, trendier milk-based clothing. Meanwhile, if they fall into the more conservative bracket, you should be sure to wear traditional clothing like wool, and never mix fabric types lest you be labeled a sinner. Your dedication to their values in either instance will show that you truly know and care about the company’s goals, even if you truly don’t.
Practice the interview as much as you can: As good teachers say, “Practice, practice, practice, nyah!” The best way to ensure you’ll do well is to practice until when someone asks you how you’re doing you respond by quickly reciting your professional history. In this vein, practice until the last possible moment before the interview: that is, when you’re waiting in the company’s lobby. Don’t be worried if anyone sees you talking to yourself or gesturing emphatically, as this will only show your dedication to concisely convey your love and dedication to not being unemployed and poor. Some people also warn against sounding mechanical, but really, doesn’t every company want to hire more robots?
Look exceptionally involved: Once you start the conversation, you need to always stay focused on the interviewer. Being disinterested is the kiss of death for a job seeking stallion such as yourself, and the easiest way to look involved is to never look away. Ever. As such, consider this quite possibly the most important rule: you must never break eye contact with your interviewer. To do so is to show weakness, and you might as well just yawn or scratch your armpit in caveman-like ignorance. Even letting your eyelids flutter half-closed for a mere moment would convey a lack of enthusiasm for your future cash dispensing overlord. Blinking = dying. Literally.
Prepare answers for standard questions: The most basic, predictable, and blasé part of the interview process is actually being interviewed. It is during this intellectual gladiatorial bout that you will practically-but-not-quite compete to the death with other people you’ve never even met for the chance to be the next Uniqlo Second Floor Greeter (yes, that’s a thing). It’s always good to have a number of stock stories ready for the day of reckoning, like that time you guided baby ducks across the street or when you successfully got to 99 points in Boppit. Preparing specific answers for specific questions is also a good idea, for instance: when I’m asked about my greatest strength I say, “Powerful thighs that allow me to stand for long periods of time and kick down doors,” and when I’m asked about my greatness weakness I quickly answer, “I do so much work that my coworkers don’t have anything to do and give me too much affection.”
And there you go! Using Greg’s Ultimate Interview Prep Guide™** you’re guaranteed to make a lasting impression.
*Note: Greg does not claim any liability for restraining orders or sexual harassment claims filed against less successful interviewees.
**Note: We guarantee nothing.
This week I’ve decided to revisit a topic I know well: awkward smalltalk. Specifically, I am excellent at awkward smalltalk because I either refuse to engage in it (“So, what are you studying in college?” “Politics.” “Oh?” “Mm.” “Okay…”), but I also know the quickest ways to ask the most important questions. For this edition of how to use smalltalk and seemingly unimportant questions to quickly get to the heart of any matter, even if they make the answerer cringe, I focus on something I’ve been doing more and more of: job interview questions.
Now, the interview process is already generally an awkward experience. The interviewer is trying their best to find out about the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate and the candidate is doing their best to make sure the interviewer thinks they are a flawless human being. In an effort to streamline this process for the interviewer (and any candidate who is asked these questions), I bring you How to Make Awkward Smalltalk: Interview Edition.
1. So… Bacon?
Anyone who’s anyone has an ardent opinion on bacon; that smoky, salty meat is the king of a carnivore’s dreams and the bane of a vegetarian’s existence. Opening an interview with “So… Bacon?” immediately makes them take a stance and defend their position. Do they love it? Hate it? Do they think there would be peace in the Middle East if they could just eat bacon? Regardless, this question forces someone on a side and makes them tell you about their core values.
There is only one true failing answer to this question — though if someone told me they didn’t like bacon during an interview I would make them leave my office with any shred of dignity they could muster — and that is by not having an opinion. If someone can’t solidly think about and reflect on the godliest of meats, how could they ever be a good employee?
2. How would I look in a cravat?
This question is incredibly difficult to navigate for a potential employee; not only does it address their ability to balance honesty with tact, but it is also a good way to judge their tastes. If someone says you’d look “God awful!” you know they’re crazy because – let’s be honest here – that cravat would look pretty snazzy. If they say you’d look “Sooo great!” they’re a suck up, and you don’t just want another yes man.
The one way to correctly answer this question – to show tact, honesty, and good fashion sense – is to say, “I think you’d look good, but it depends on the color.” Not only do they acknowledge your good looks, but they show they can think beyond the initial problem and address other issues, like whether it would clash or not. It takes a truly exceptional candidate to weave through all the aspects of this difficult situation and come out a victor.
3. What do you find appealing about the Amish lifestyle?
Quite unlike bacon, the Amish are often overlooked, to the extent that when you mention them a person might stare off blankly for half a second and try and remember what that word means. Immediately, this means that inquiring about the Amish requires them to have a good ability to recall facts quickly. If they say, “Who?” Bzzrt! They’re out! No passy for them! Other disparaging remarks, etc.
The second benefit to this question is it requires them to stay positive, no matter their true feelings, and focus on the goodness in another group. It also shows you a candidate’s ability to BS, as they might find no redeeming qualities in the Amish lifestyle but can’t answer that or they face metaphorical career flogging. Overall, this question is the most powerful way to end an interview, as it is a strong barometer of their ability to recall facts, stay positive, and make stuff up.
Job interviews are always hard, and they are always awkward. Hopefully this guide will help you make the process a little bit easier, a little more straight forward, and a lot more awkward. Good luck.