Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed

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Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed

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Buy Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: It's the third edition of this best-selling book which is indispensable if you're going to look for a job - or interview people on the hunt. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 292 Date: December 2020
Publisher: Portfolio Penguin
ISBN: 978–0241297131

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Six years on from the original edition, the book is being re-issued with a bonus chapter entitled The Future of Work which includes an additional 10 questions. I've come to this some 6 years after reviewing the original book and my life has changed significantly in the meantime. I'm no longer working in middle-management having opted for a down-shift into reduced hours freelancing to enable me to focus on other (not necessarily paying) work. I can therefore relate to the first point made in this chapter namely that independence and flexibility are core skills that employees need to have.

The degree to which employers want these skills has undoubtedly undergone a shift of its own in the last 12 months. Where once such attributes might have been seen as a double-edged sword, as much a threat to the employee not wanting to stay long and so not fully committing to the organisational goals as a strength of being responsive to that organisation's shifting business environment, it is very clear now that the strength fully outweighs the threat.

The new questions are unashamedly rooted in the right now of 2020, where firms have faced extreme pressure in terms of supply chain stresses, market demand being curtailed through lockdowns, the need for new ways of working (shorter hours, home-working, social distancing, more online and all the rest of it). Where people were lucky enough to continue working, they saw massive changes in how they were allowed or required to work. Some will have thrived through this; others will have struggled.

Some of the new questions consider things that have rapidly become more relevant…

  • Ability to change your mind about something important, this goes to flexibility and the humility to admit you have been wrong, but hidden within it

is a question about how you discover that you need to change your mind;

  • The most valuable thing you have learned in the past year – a very 2020 question, given what we've all learned – obviously wanting to know not just what that is, but why it is important in the business world; the hidden question is how/why did you learn it and what have you done with that knowledge
  • Attitudes to remote working – which aims not just to get at how you feel about it, but in very specific terms what you did to make it work – this is really also about flexibility and independence
  • Directly linking your performance to changing the lives of customers…an easier one to answer in some sectors and some roles than others

Many of the questions are unsurprising given the year we have all just experienced. Perhaps the weirdest one (in the sense of the most unexpected) is Explain what a TV is to a person from the 1400s Apparently this aims to find out how good you are at explaining futuristic ideas. It's going to throw you though, if you have no idea what the state of technology was in the 1400s, who you're talking to, or why they want to know. There's some good ideas included on how to answer that particular question, which are no doubt transferable to other 'curve ball' questions. I've no idea how I would have reacted to such a question. My gut response is why on earth would I want to? It might be like an actor looking for their character's motivation – but at least it would buy me some time!

The remainder feel a little bit like old ground. Having decided I'm never interviewing for another role again, on either side of the fence (famous last words!) I no longer have my original copy of the book, so I can't check but there is familiarity in questions about being a hero at work, or a memory of something that shaped who you are, when you exhibited courage, or being lucky… I can't help thinking these areas must have been addressed earlier in the original edition.

The most interesting question is the last one which asks essentially what would the cost be to us if we don't hire you I found that interesting because the suggested answers given imply that you should simply use it as an opportunity to sell yourself and your skills without getting too close in on the financial aspect. That intrigues me because working with other freelancers as I do now, the biggest hurdle is the ability to set sensible fee rates. The world of work doesn't train us to cost our own value…I can't help wondering if it might be a different world if it did.

One thing I found interesting about the update is that it doesn't revisit any of the previous questions to look at which ones are no longer relevant. If the focus of interviewers has shifted to ask about different things, it might have been helpful to know what they're less interested in these days.

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Buy Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed at Amazon.com.

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