In his newest book What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell includes a must-read chapter subtitled “What Do Job Interviews Really Tell Us?”
Gladwell’s jarring starting point: “The job interview has become one of the central conventions of the modern economy. But what, exactly, can you know about a stranger after sitting down and talking with him for an hour?”
For example, when a student evaluates a teacher, “a two-second silent video clip of a teacher he has never met [yields] conclusions about how good that teacher is that are very similar to those of a student who sits in the teacher’s class for an entire semester. . . . The first impression becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we hear what we expect to hear.”
An astonishing number of questions to candidates prove useless. Good interviewers rephrase questions so the answers won’t be obvious. The questions should make people think.
Another mind-bending truth: “Most of the time, we assume that people display the same character traits in different situations. We habitually underestimate the large role that context plays in people’s behavior.” A smart company will evaluate a prospect for a key job in as many settings as possible.
As further research about interview behavior sink in-and sink in it will-the clients and bosses of recruiters will demand questions be hard-balled in tougher, more disarming ways.
What should the bottom line be for you? Gladwell quotes an astute candidate: “‘One of the most important things is that you have to come across as being confident in what you are doing and in who you are. How do you do that? Speak clearly and smile.'”
For more tips on how to find a job and how to get a job check out my book “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door”