Going on a job interview is like going on the worst first date ever. You have to be able to answer questions without revealing anything bad about yourself, while insuring your doubletalk sounds sincere. (It's unlike a first date in that you cannot expect sex at the end, unless you are interviewing for a porno.)
In this era of extreme unemployment, an applicant must be fully armed before tangling with the toughest of foes: An HR representative. Hopefully the following post will help you understand the 'dos' and 'do not dos' of job interviews.
Question: What is your greatest weakness?
Right Answer: I don't ask for help when I should. I take on a lot, and always finish what I start, but not without all-nighters and self-imposed pressure.
Wrong Answer: I don't work well with others. I drink a lot on Thursday night, so I'm pretty much useless on Fridays. I get overwhelmed easily, which leads to inappropriate emotional displays in the workplace. Oh, and I used to wet my bed, which left me scarred and unable to make eye contact when I have to relieve myself.
Question: Why did you leave your last job?
Right Answer: I loved my coworkers; we were like family. But you can't stay in a situation that doesn't challenge you to the fullest. I think your organization will be a better fit--one that will allow me to live up to my full potential, and I look forward to forging new friendships.
Wrong Answer: I slept with everyone at my last workplace and it got really uncomfortable near the end. My boss was an ass whom I mocked mercilessly when out of earshot. The most stimulating part of my day was online shopping.
Question: What do you do in your spare time?
Right Answer: I read to the blind once a week, train for triathalons, and spend a lot of time with my family.
Wrong Answer: I can tell you the names of every "Big Brother" contestant in the past 10 years.
Question: Why are you interested in this position?
Right Answer: I've always wanted to be in______, but I needed to try other professions to make sure I was fully committed to it. I have a strong interest in _______, which will serve me well in this position and the skills I've developed in my past positions will be invaluable when taking on this new challenge.
Wrong Answer: I'm not really. I'm making more money now collecting unemployment than I did at my last job, but my parents threatened to stop paying my rent if I didn't find a job. This seemed like the least offensive of all my possibilities.
(I originally wrote a version of this piece for "Save the Assistants.")
Follow Alex Leo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlexMLeo