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My Favourite Job Interview Technique (It Works!)

New grad with sign looking for work
New grad with sign looking for work

New Grad Job Search

Photo Credit: yastapr via Compfight cc
First of all the job interview is not about you. It’s about them, their problems, and what you can do to fix them.  I had to learn this the hard way but you don’t.

I interview badly.  I use the term ‘badly’ as a euphemism for f*cking horribly.

I stammer, stumble over my words, look blank when asked a question, use humor at inappropriate times and these are the minor problems.  I moved into the big leagues  of job interview screw-ups by doing things like:

Arguing with my interviewer

Raising my voice while arguing and engaging in cutting rejoinders

As I said I interview badly.

So how did I ace my last interview and get the promotion after years of effing them up? Here are the two techniques I used with a short explanation about why they work.  Also be sure to watch the video from Ramit Sethi at the end.

  1. Doing the Homework and Shifting the Focus

 You are hoping to be hired, you are hoping that this job will be the gateway to your plans for world domination.  But what is the company hoping for?

Short answer;  They have a problem, that they need solved.  This is where doing your homework comes in.  By fair means or fouls find out what the problem is and plan how you are going to solve it.  Google news reports, press releases, etc.  Even better get information on the company from someone inside the company by friending them on LinkedIn or Google+, follow them (not electronically stalk or harass) them on twitter.

If this seems like too much work then  you should also ask yourself how bad do you really want the job.  If you’re applying to flip burgers then this is definitely overkill but it you are going after your dream job then the extra preparation is a small price to pay.  More importantly, you can be assured that some of the other interviewees with better qualifications will not have taken these extra measures.

The point of all of this is that you begin the interview with confidence, show yourself to be alert to the needs of others and a problem solver.  During the interview stay focused as the person(s) conducting the interview will have problems that are unique to them.  In my case, I was interviewed by persons over the age of 60, who had been with the organization for decades. Their biggest problem (which remained unstated) was concern for their legacies.  I realized that any talk of innovation and the wholesale replacement of methods they had taken years to create would not lead to my promotion.  Instead I spoke on the need for training and instilling basic principles of organizational behaviour, which impressed my interviewers. I got the promotion.  

As the job seeker, your entire mentality should be “I’ve identifed this  problem in the company, let me fix it for you” Focus on them not on yourself.


  1. The Briefcase Technique

I learnt the Briefcase Technique from a former mentor, Ramit Sethi who is a bit of a dick but an absolute master on hacking and planning a career.  The technique works at a deeply psychological level, in the way that an unexpected small gift at an unexpected time works on a first date.  In the video Ramit explains how freelancers can use the technique to close sales but it is effective for a whole range of things.

If you’ve done homework from the last section – and if you are a new grad you should still be use to homework you know the company’s challenges.  Type up a list of the problems (Not more than ten but not less than three)  in outline form, how are you going to solve them.  At an appropriate point in the conversation pull out the list with a small flourish and try not to look smug.  Bonus points if you are able to guide the conversation around to what you have on paper.  One of my interviewers was so impressed that he nodded agreement with almost everything I said for the rest of time I was with them.

I had to pay to learn the technique but it was worth every penny, now it’s free on YouTube.

Watch the full video below.

Having been there, I know how stressful job interviews is.  From the bottom of my heart, whomever you are and where ever you are I wish you all the best on the job hunt and every success in the future.


Three Perils of Thought Leadership

Michael Collins at Rally
“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

George Bernard Shaw



It’s virtually impossible to visit any corner of the Business/Entrepreneurship/Management  Web without someone

Michael Collins at Rally

Michael Collins at rally

announcing themselves to be a ‘Thought Leader’.  In theory, the clash of ideas and viewpoints would lead to the annihilation of the weakest, and, persons who championed the better ideas will have earned the title “Thought Leaders”.

As we well know, theory and practice are not the same thing.

In the real world,  silly ideas can spread like an oil fire (remember ‘planking’) and bad ideas can last for generations. Why? Probably, because we think with our thoughts but we don’t always question the nature or substance of our thoughts.  Any idea we have that is validated by even a small group becomes precious and even more tied to  our ego.

Herewith are three thoughts that potential thought leaders need to fully think about before they publicize their thoughts. Yes, the previous sentence does actually make sense.


  1. Are your thoughts built on a False Premise?

The premise, aerial bombing will break an enemy’s will/ability to fight. A closer examination does not bear this out.

In World War I, Germany bombs England from airships (zepplins).  At the time this is a totally new aspect of war but does not stop England and its allies from ultimately winning.

In World War II The Germans carpet bomb parts of England, the English and Americans return the favour by bombing German cities. Neither side’s will is broken.

The Vietnam War. The world’s most powerful airforce bomb the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong at every opportunity. The South Vietnamese government, despite years of financial and military aid from the U.S, collapses in 1973.

The Global War on Terror (Iraq part II, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc) Remote controlled drones now make ‘surgical strikes’ with guided missiles.  When will this war end and what will victory look like? No one seems to know.

Aerial bombing is useful in some ways but the idea that it can break an enemy’s will to fight has been proven wrong on multiple occasions. The premise, however wrong is still the basis for international policy 100 years after it was conceived.


  1. Are your thoughts based on accurate data and is your interpretation of the data correct.

The Conservative author David Brooks has made a career of sharing his thoughts on various aspects of American culture and a need to ‘reform’ it.  His book, “The Road to Character” cites a study that seeks to show how self-absorbed Americans have become.

The problem is, the interpretation of the study* is so wrong it requires a separate article**. There have been multiple opportunities for fact checking and correction, but the error in “The Road to Character” has never been addressed.

This misinterpretation/misrepresentation of the data -whether deliberate or not- will be the basis for many misinformed opinions about young americans for years to come.

  1. Are your thoughts stated in such a way that your followers can easily adhere to them?

While it might not be a thought leader’s fault if adherents warp your teachings, some ideas are easier to twist than others.

The instances where followers go off on a tangent or even worse in the opposite direction are many.  The most recent historical example is the patron saint of conservative american politics, President Ronald Reagan.  Reagan is best remembered for his trickle down economics, rabid anti-tax stance and his firm belief in a strong military, which he used to invade Grenada.

Fast forward to today and there is little mention that Ronald Reagan negotiated several weapons treaties with the Soviet Union (which he called the ‘Evil Empire’) and raised taxes eleven times in eight years  (There are two sides to this story. Interested persons can read them at the links below).

Those who proselytize in Reagan’s name today, do so while ignoring his actual accomplishments in terms of peace and his nation’s economics.


Thought Leadership is not an easy task.  The would-be Thought Leader must avoid falling in love with his thoughts to the extent that he is blinded to faults or weaknesses in his ideas.  Scepticism with your own ideas is harder to do than it appears but those who do will have weeded out the weakest one and have earned the title of Thought Leader.


Now share your thoughts on Thought Leadership in the comment section.


*Link to the actual study is here

**Article on David Brooks vs The Truth can be read here.

Reagan taxes – liberal view

Reagan taxes – conservative view

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Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe via Compfight cc

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A black black family but not mine. Flickr Commons

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