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A job interview they won't forget

By Jonathan Rivett

Most job-interview advice is enough to help you avoid making a fool of yourself in front of prospective employers but rarely instructs on how to truly take control.

Here's my advice on how to blow a panel's hair back so hard it never goes properly forward again.

"Tell us about a time you ..." questions are the job interview interrogatory items du jour, and have been for many years. Keep a tally of how many you get asked during the interview and then ask precisely twice that many back in the "Do you have any questions to ask us?" stage.

One of the most common "Tell us about a time ..." questions concludes with "... you worked your way out of a difficult situation". Rarely, however, do interview panels qualify it. For this reason, you should feel comfortable moving well outside the professional sphere and talking about the time you subdued a yeti with only a pine cone, or pole-vaulted over a bunyip-infested river using a rigid snake. These examples are far more interesting than verbal porridge about being behind on KPIs.

If at any time you feel like terminating the interview, do it. As soon as you hear something you don't like — "learnings", "going forward", "how familiar are you with Excel?" — simply stand up and walk out. If you feel your point is better made with accompanying words, try "don't stop on account of me" or "I've had more enjoyable anaphylaxis than that".

If, after employing these tactics, your interviewers' hair remains as it was at handshake stage, it just means this column has created a new paradigm. Again.

Jonathan Rivett explains how to pole-vault using a snake at


Published: 09 February 2013

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