Five Ways To Win A Job Interview

If you really, really want to land an interview, you really truly must be excited about the job or the employer.

“A man or woman on fire for a particular kind of work is a beautiful thing to see,” said Richard Bolles, well-known author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” (2011). His book, considered the Bible of career guides, has been translated into 22 languages and has sold some 10 million copies. He also wrote, “The Job-Hunters Survival Guide: How to Find a Rewarding Job Even When There Are No Jobs” when the job search news turned horrific, and gave me an exclusive interview in 2009 for a Washington Post piece.

Every job seeker needs persistence and a willingness to devote plenty of time to their search, Bolles told me then. Much of his “Parachute” advice revolves around knowing who you are and using your strengths to work your way to a new career or new job. He also encourages face-to-face meetings and not counting on online postings or connections overly much.

An ordained minister for 50 years, Bolles compared finding a job to dating: Objective measures count, but so do intangibles such as charm and a “winsome personality.”

This month, we connected again via email, to discuss how job seekers could find their ways into a company. Here are Dick Bolles five suggestions for working your way into an interview:

  • Choose your targets thoughtfully. “Choose places that interest you, not places where you think there is a vacancy,” he said. “Companies love to be loved, and you will distinguish yourself from most other job-hunters if you focus on them and not on yourself.”
  • Cultivate curiosity. You need plenty of it to research relentlessly your target companies and hiring managers. But you also need to incite interest in the recruiters or future bosses. “If you have piqued their curiosity, they will try to convince you to come in and talk,” he said.
  • Choose smaller organizations. Target smaller companies, those with 50 or fewer employees, because they are more open to possibilities. Knock on doors of any office or employer that interests you to see if they have openings. (This is one of the Bolles’ five most effective ways to search for a job.)
  • Get a bridge person. This is someone who knows you and also knows the hiring manager and who will help you land an interview. “Depending on your resume to get you ‘in’, rather than ‘a bridge person’ has a terrible track record,” he said.  If you can’t readily find someone, look on LinkedIn.
  • Passion makes you appealing. “You should be pursuing the work that turns you on the most,” said Bolles. “You can’t fake this enthusiasm. Hiring managers can smell if it’s real or not….You want them to feel you have a lot of ‘passion’ or ‘enthusiasm’ for this job,” he told me.

That combination of serious research and real passion and engagement will help open doors for job-seekers.