Time to get crazy
Nick Walker discovers that a little eccentricity could be the secret to a successful job interview
With large sections of the global economy still in decline – or at best growing sluggishly – as a result of the recent financial crisis, many of the millions of people who lost their jobs over the last few years have not been re-employed.
Those with bills to pay and savings running low can understandably feel a few jitters when finally getting the chance to sit in front of a job interviewer. Employers, however, are not helping. In days gone by, often all that was needed to secure a position was a single one-on-one interview – and if you had managed to reach that stage, you could pretty much count on getting the job (barring any unforeseen interview-room catastrophes).
With the global recession also meaning middle managers having to increasingly justify their existence – and salaries – the interview process has in many places become tortuously elongated. First there’s the Skype interview. Then there’s the one-on-one. Then there’s a second interview. Then a panel interview. Then a group assessment. Testing times, these certainly are.
To give the poor, overwhelmed interviewee a bit of confidence and a fighting chance to make it to the finishing line, in steps Dr John B Molidor with his book Crazy Good Interviewing: How Acting a Little Crazy Can Get You the Job.
Molidor is CEO and president of Michigan State University (MSU) Flint Area Medical Education in the US and a community assistant dean and professor of psychiatry at the MSU College of Human Medicine. He specialises in helping individuals understand how their brain, communication styles and interviewing skills can function together to produce the best possible results.
He wrote Crazy Good Interviewing after many years of conducting interview workshops and teaching interview techniques. With the book, his aim is to “give job hunters an opportunity to get their creative juices flowing so they can become the stand-out applicant at the next interview and land a new job.”
He explores how candidates can apply a variety of mental strategies and positive verbal and non-verbal communication skills to the interview process to work towards the best possible outcome. The book contains self-assessment tips, quizzes and advice on how to reduce interview-day jitters and conquer the group interview.
The book is centred on the theme that slightly eccentric interview behaviour can tip the scales in the favour of the job applicant and help make them stand out in a “sea of mediocrity”. Such “crazy good behaviour” might see a job candidate create a keynote presentation on their tablet computer to show what they can bring to the job, or even put together a DVD that highlights their skills and abilities.
He also looks at a number of different types of “crazy bad behaviour” that job candidates should do their utmost best to avoid (see below).
The all-important business of making a good first impression is given special attention, with Molidor pointing out that “when you upgrade your appearance, there is a greater likelihood of being hired, with an 8 to 20 per cent higher projected salary as a result of your upgraded look.” This advice might appear obvious, but Molidor obviously considers it important enough to reiterate.
The book also shows readers how they can assess their various interview strengths and weaknesses and explains how best to maximise – or in the case of weaknesses, minimise – each one in an interview. For an individual’s strengths, Molidor suggests looking outside the box at areas you wouldn’t usually consider bringing up in an interview. He talks about hobbies and volunteer work and how an interviewee may be able to relate those skills to the job that they’re looking to secure.
To a considerable extent, this book is really old wine in new bottles. To have managed to crank out an entire book – albeit with the help of one of America’s most prolific ghost-writers, Barbara Parus, who is director of publications for the National Speakers Association in Tempe, Arizona, and who also has considerable experience co-authoring books on human resources-related topics – is quite an achievement in itself.
On its release last year, it was named one of the best career books of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal. Overall it is a good read, though it is quite forbidding at times, especially if you’re a rookie when it comes to job interviews. It is also a useful book to leaf through if you’ve become jaded by having to jump through too many interview hoops.
The book’s essentials, however, have already been covered in countless dos and don’ts lists that we already know. And when it comes to Lady Luck – well there’s nothing Molidor can say that will really help you there.
Molidor’s musings on what you should NEVER do in an interview
• Never go into an interview room with “compromised” grooming – even if that means brushing your teeth a second time in the office bathroom. Stick to your best, most tasteful business attire and make sure you are showered and well-groomed.
• Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Even if you think you get where they’re going and have an outstanding answer primed and waiting, this is one of the most annoying things you can do. Give them a chance to finish.
• Don’t wear overpowering perfume or cologne. Generally fragrances don’t belong in an interview – it’s not a date. Worse, some people may even be allergic.
• For women, don’t go heavy on the make-up. The closer to natural you look, the more the real you can shine through.
• Don’t listen to your MP3 player, play video games, make calls or do anything similar while waiting to be interviewed. Take care of all that before you walk through the door of the building. If you really need to make an important call while you wait, ask if you may use a private area to do so. If an interviewers sees a candidate chatting on the phone with their chums or playing video games while waiting, they will think that’s what the candidate will do doing during their workday too.
• Don’t assume your interview starts when you first sit down in front of your interviewer. Start presenting yourself as a capable, serious candidate the moment you walk in the building – you never know who you may run into on the way in or out. Afterwards, maintain your best professional demeanour until you are far away from the building – don’t rip your tie off the minute you get outside.