Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again by James Reed
|Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again by James Reed|
|Category: Business and Finance|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: A summary of the most-asked interview questions and tips on how to answer them, this book is useful for those just looking to better understand how they function in their existing roles and managers recruiting new staff. For those embarking on a job search, it's indispensable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: December 2014|
|Publisher: Portfolio Penguin|
No-one likes doing job interviews. This includes most recruiting managers, but for candidates, it is one of life's most stressful situations. No matter whether it's the next step in our carefully planned career or just a job, no matter whether it's our first job or our fifteenth, that 45 minutes to an hour of conversation has the potential to fundamentally affect our happiness for the foreseeable future.
Because no matter what we tell ourselves: it never is 'just a job'. Research project after research project proves that our jobs matter to us. If we are not happy at work, we are not happy. Period! (as our transatlantic cousins would say)
According to James Reed, Chairman of Reed Group recruitment agency and author of this book, our jobs shape what we do all day, where we live and what we see all day, our income, our life partner (most people meet their future spouses through work), when we'll die (and not just if you're in the armed services), your social status and your personal happiness.
In makes sense then that we apply for the jobs that are right for us and that we then give ourselves the best possible shot at getting them.
Although the book is subtitled 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again, it's a bit more than that. The first, quite long, chapter is all about mindset. It's about understanding the relationship between recruiter and candidate. It's about preparing your job search and understanding yourself.
That last point 'understanding yourself' is a key theme that lurks behind the rest of the book and is probably what lifts it beyond its stated intent.
Working through the question sets is a voyage of self-discovery and it might be one that leads you to understand why you are unhappy in your current role, which in turn might help you discover that you can fix it without moving or at the other extreme might provide the lightbulb moment that you're on the wrong path altogether.
For that reason, I'm going to recommend this book to everyone who is in work, out of work, looking to move up, down or sideways, but who envisages being employed for (or in) the foreseeable future – not just those who are actively planning a job search.
After that first chapter the 101 questions are grouped around 5 themes: Classic Questions (The Fateful 15), Career Goal Questions, Character Questions, Competency Questions, Curveball and Creativity Questions - well it wouldn't be a career book without having 3G and 5C or something similar, would it? There is then a useful section on questions for you to ask and how to end the interview gracefully – and some advice on what to do next.
Examples from each section include: The Classic – Tell me about yourself Career Goal – Give me the names of three companies you would like to work for Character – What do you most dislike about yourself? Competency – Tell me about a big change you have had to deal with Curveball and Creativity – How many traffic lights are there in London?
Each of the main sections has a short introduction on what it's going cover before launching into the questions themselves. In each case, there is then: the Question (as likely to be put by an interviewer), followed by The Real Question (an analysis of what they are really trying to find out), a top-line tactic on how to go about your answer. There is then guidance on the kind of thing you should be looking to say, and not say; good ways of structuring responses; and sample answers.
Obviously very few of the answers are the kind of things that can be learnt parrot-fashion since they have to be specific to the job-role and to the candidate (and also to the hiring company – not all companies want their salespeople or ICT crew to be of a given mould). In some cases, the sample responses are the least helpful part because they have no bearing that I can directly equate to my own experience and this will be true for many, if not most, people using the book. In other cases though, there are one or two that made me think: can I just nick that?!
Answer no… but you get the drift.
What I found really helpful was actually sitting down and drafting out my own current answers to the questions. And what I found really interesting was how eager I was to do just that only a few questions into the read-through. This tells me that this is not only an easy read, it's a thought-provoking one and a very useful workbook.
Reed is very careful to include advice for people at all stages of their careers, including those just starting out and those who have had a career break, whether that was to go travelling, raise children, care for an elderly or sick relative or indeed time spent (as he puts it) at Her Majesty's Pleasure.
Naturally the overwhelming advice is: be honest, be yourself. This is tempered with some of the tricks of the trade for ensuring that you don't give away those parts of yourself that have no place in the workplace in the first place (and which you will dutifully keep out of it, once you've got the job!)
For most people, especially anyone who has recent experience of interviews, the Classic questions will present no problem. As you work through the chapters, the questions get trickier and trickier. Some of them will almost certainly never apply in your personal context, but it's still interesting (if you're interested in yourself and your career) to try to come up with answers. In fact the harder the question, probably the more useful the exercise outside of a job hunt.
I have no idea whether my current line manager reads my book reviews, but just in case: I didn't pick this up because I'm about to jump ship. I will be using it though. It's mid-term review time and we are encouraged to think about our future aspirations and I can see this helping me clarify some of my needs and aspirations in terms of the next level, should I choose to want to go there. I will also find it helpful as a recruiting manager in terms not only of framing killer questions (we can be mean like that!) but also in interpreting some of the answers.
In the unlikely event that this doesn't tell you everything you need to know to be well-equipped for your next interview, you could also try Are You Smart Enough To Work At Google? by William Poundstone - which takes a more light-hearted look at the curveball questions.
A third edition of Why You? was published in December 2020.
You can read more book reviews or buy Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again by James Reed at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again by James Reed at Amazon.com.
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