9 Surprising Job Interview Tips from America’s Top Career Expert

In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, it was revealed that the average person in the U.S. born between 1957 and 1964, had to go job-hunting 17.2 times from when they were 18 years old until they were 48. Job hunting isn’t an optional exercise. It’s a must.

Richard Bolles, widely known as America’s top career expert, wrote the world’s most popular job hunting guide “What Color is Your Parachute?” that reveals practical tips for writing impressive resumes and cover letters, networking effectively, interviewing with confidence and negotiating a rewarding salary. I gleaned 9 key tips the author shares in his book.

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Interview Tip #1: An interviewer (or series of interviews, there) should be prepared for, before you ever go in. You might enter the interview thinking the employer to be curious about you, but the employer wants to know what you know about them. Sounds simple, but do your research on them before you go in. Find out everything you can. Google them. Go to their website. Read their press releases. Memorize their core values.

Interview Tip #2: An interview for a job is a lot like dating. This conversation is between two people who are trying to see if they both want to “try going steady.” It’s got to be a two-way decision. The interview is simply a data-collecting process. They are asking these questions: “Do we like you? Do we want you to work here? Do you have the skills, knowledge, or experience that we really need?” The biggest mistake interviewees make is thinking of this conversation like marketing a used car.

Interview Tip #3: Questions to expect from them, then questions you can ask. Arguably the most important question they’ll most likely ask you in the beginning is “Tell me about yourself.” How you answer that will determine your fate during the remaining time in the interview.

The people-who-have-the-power-to-hire-you are most curious about the following answers to the five questions:

  1. Why are you here? This means, “Why are you knocking on my door, rather than someone else’s door?
  2. What can you do for us? This means, “If we were to hire you, will you help me with the challenges I face?
  3. What kind of person are you? This means, “Will you fit in?
  4. What exactly distinguishes you from nineteen or nine hundred other people who are applying for this job? This means, “Do you have better work habits than the others, do you show up earlier, stay later, work smarter?”
  5. Can I afford you? This means, “If we decide we want you here, how much will it take to get you?”

Interview Tip #4: During the interview, determine to observe “the 50-50 rule.” One research by MIT shows that people who generally get hired are those who mix speaking and listening fifty-fifty in the interview.

RELATED: 21 Best Tips for a Successful Job Interview

Interview Tip #5: In answering the employer’s questions, observe the “the twenty-second to two-minute rule.” Studies show that when it’s your turn to speak, you should not plan to speak any longer than two minutes at a time, if you want to make the best impression. In fact, a good answer may only take 20 seconds or less.

Interview Tip #6: It’s the small things that are the killers, in a job interview. The best interviews operate intuitively on the principle that microcosm reveals microcosm. Here’s what they might look at:

  1. Your appearance and personal habits
  2. Nervous mannerisms
  3. Lack of self-confidence
  4. The consideration you show to other people.
  5. Your values

Interview Tip #7: Try to think of some way to bring evidence of your skills, to the hiring interview. (e.g., if you’re an artist or a craftsperson, try to bring a sample of what you have made or produced.

Interview Tip #8: Before you leave the (final) interview there, assuming you have decided that you like them and maybe they like you, there are five questions you should always ask:

  1. “Can you offer me this job?”
  2. “When may I expect to hear from you?”
  3. “Might I ask what would be the latest I can expect to hear from you?”
  4. “May I contact you after the date, if for any reason you haven’t gotten back to me by that time?”
  5. (Optional) “Can you think of anyone else who might be interested in my skills and experience?” You ask this question only if they said “No” to the first question.

Interview Tip #9: Thank you notes must be sent after every interview, by every job hunter and most job hunters ignore this advice.