How to be a good interviewee … but don’t forget your shirt

James Reed’s latest book Why You? has raced to the top of Amazon bestsellers in less than a month and if you are seriously after a job, it is essential reading. Going to interview someone about interviewing is always going to be a bit tricky, but reassuring that Reed is so adept at answering his own questions. Textbook answers. Tick. Good handshake. Tick. Eye contact. Tick. The book is good to read job interview or no job interview. Great for family banter at breakfast. Once you have tackled the Fateful 15 classic interview questions you move swiftly to Career Goal questions and then Character questions. So I asked Reed one of the questions in the book. What do people assume about you that would be wrong? (a question about self awareness and emotional intelligence) “People think I like public speaking, but I don’t,” he says.

Reed, chairman of Reed recruitment specialists which handles 46 million job applications a year, is well placed to find out the real questions being asked right now on a daily basis up and down the country. Thousands of clients were asked what their favourite interview question is and Reed also organised workshops with some of the 2,000 interviewers Reed Recruitment employs, so the book is not only comprehensive but bang up to date. Reed says: “The questions in the book are ones asked most frequently or are the most interesting, which makes it very relevant.” So what are the main problems interviewees face? “People are poor at articulating what makes them different from the other candidates,” says Reed. The employer can use the application and CV to look for questions to ask, but its doesn’t show your integrity or character. An interviewer will find out a lot about a person from the Fateful 15 questions. “People were pretty unanimous on what was a bad answer, it was effectively a dishonest answer. Being yourself isn’t as easy as it seems and that’s what will make you successful,”  explains Reed. Another question is ‘Where does your boss think you are now?’ It’s a character question, and shows your integrity. Best never to lie. Another top tip is to write a note, not an email, to thank the interviewer for the interview. And a favourite Reed quote is: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ Oh, and don’t do a Skype interview in your pyjamas like one interviewee did (what was he thinking?) or turn up with just one eyebrow. He must have been at a Stag Night. Another, incredibly, turned up without a shirt. Reed didn’t mention whether the interviewee was a man or a woman …

Reed has lived in Notting Hill more than 30 years and has been helping local long term unemployed people, usually referred by Job Centres, back to work with Reed in Partnership in Latimer Road. Some of the people there contributed to the book. The book is brilliant if you are asking or answering questions and you will always have something to say if you take it to a party. You can buy Why You? here amazon.co.uk and sign up for Business for Bohemians (Reed is giving one of the talks) which starts in March, here idler.co.uk

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