Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:02

Advice for an Interview

Written by 
Rate this item
(2 votes)

Sun Tzu and the Art of Interviewing: Advice for an interview from history’s greatest strategist.

When you’re seeking advice for interview, there are various experts you can reach out to, especially to learn interview strategy and tactics.  It seems only fitting to see how history’s possibly best-known strategist could help today’s job seekers ace their next interview. Over 2,200 years ago, Chinese military adviser Sun Tzu wrote his treatise, The Art of War. Whether or not the current version also includes the work of other generals is a point of contention, but the strategic advice it provides has demonstrated its value time and time again.  Below you will find some quotes from this work and its applications to the job hunt.

Sun Tzu:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.

Translated into interview speak: “If you prepare for your interview by reviewing your own abilities and history and by understanding the hiring organization, you’ll be ready for any interview.”

 

Many job seekers get tripped up at the very first question they encounter during an interview, “Tell me about yourself.” Like fish in water, they find it difficult to describe something they’re so familiar with: themselves. To avoid this trap, you need to become familiar with your strengths, motivations, and values. You also need to know how to describe your past experiences.

Other job seekers fail to do sufficient homework on the hiring organization. They haven’t taken the time to understand what makes this organization different from its various competitors.

Sun Tzu:

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Translated into interview speak:

“Express confidence in tough and competitive interviews. Express humility in interviews when you are perceived to be overqualified or the shoe-in candidate.”

In many interviews, the job candidate is in a position of weakness, competing against many other people for one job opening. Often, he or she may be applying for a job that is a promotion over the current one. In these situations, it is important to be perceived as strong and confident.

In today’s job market, however, some candidates are applying to jobs that represent a pay cut and demotion, sometimes to switch career fields and sometimes to become employed. In these situations, seeming too strong in the interview can cause elimination. The perception is that this person will be bored in the current job and won’t stay long, or will quickly steal the interviewer’s job. If you are in one of these situations, being a bit humble about your abilities and passionate about the work will play to your advantage.

Sun Tzu:

Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

Translated into interview speak:

 “Don’t appear arrogant in your interview, and encourage the interviewer to talk about herself.”

An interview should feel like a conversation, which means splitting the airtime with your interviewer 50-50. It’s important to ask the interviewer questions about herself and her experiences at the firm, particularly about accomplishments and other positive experiences. At the same time, you want to respond positively to these accomplishments and not express a sense of superiority over the interviewer.

Sun Tzu:

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.

Translated into interview speak:

If a job doesn’t seem right for you, walk away. If a job is right, express passion for it.

You may find out over the course of an interview that the job is not really a great fit for you. The work you would be asked to do would make you unhappy or not utilize your talents. When you have that realization, walk away.  At the same time, when you know that a job is one where you will excel, demonstrate to the interviewer this enthusiasm and excitement, and show how your skills will make you successful.

Sun Tzu:

“You have to believe in yourself.

Translated into advice for an interview:

“You have to believe in yourself.

Read 2276 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:54