Job Interviews for Dummies — Part 4

By Scot Herrick | Book Reviews

Feb 21

If you read the news, you’d think every company on the planet was laying people off. Certainly, we’ve seen a lot more people heading out for job interviews — and getting shocked at the Interview Gauntlet.

So I asked Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of Job Interviews For Dummies, 3rd Edition, published in January of this year, for a little interview advice. Today’s question:

Cube Rules: What tips does the book provide that would help a person verify what the hiring manager really wants so that you can show how you meet the requirements?

Joyce Lain Kennedy:

The hiring manager really wants to avoid a bad hire. So if the manager wants A, show that you deliver A; if the manager wants B, you deliver B; if the manager wants C, you deliver C, and so on.

Tailor your message and make it employer-centric. You not only want to calm unspoken concerns, but excite the interviewer’s interest in finding you to be a “perfect match.” (Speak of yourself as a “perfect match” or “perfect fit,” but truth be told, in most cases, a near-perfect match is close enough.)

Memorize this mantra: “I will relate my qualifications to the position’s requirements”. Say it again and again to yourself: “I will relate my qualifications to the position’s requirements.” No one gives a rodent’s behind that you are looking for an opportunity to express yourself creatively or ditch a commute – unless you can relate it to show how your parochial desire adds value to the employer’s agenda.

In Job Interviews For Dummies, 3rd Edition, I include a chapter on “Tailoring Your Qualifications for Targeted Job Interviews,” which includes lots of tips on how to connect the dots, how to use repetition to add credibility to your claims, and how to make up for missing qualifications.

When Crossover Skills Miss the Connection

Realistically speaking, what are your chances of success in claiming that you’re a good match to a job’s requirements on the theory that your skills transfer from one industry to company size to another? Sometimes your assertion works like a charm. Sometimes it doesn’t. The theory of crossover skills (also called transferable skills) holds promise only when applied truthfully.

Paul Hawkinson explains. Hawkinson is the legendary editor-in-chief of The Fordyce Letter, a top recruiting industry newsletter. “It’s easier to find a job within the industry where your experience lies. The weapons engineer with 20 years of experience will find it difficult to work outside of the defense industry at the same salary. And 20 years of selling cosmetics does not prepare or qualify someone to sell industrial equipment.

“Along similar lines, a highly specialized employee with a very large company just may not find a market for his or her skills in a smaller firm where versatility is admired.”

When you’re debating whether your skills transfer and you can do the job, channel Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister: “A theory must be tempered with reality.” Don’t waste your time trying to peddle smoke and mirrors in moving your skills from one venue to another when it’s a lost cause. © For Dummies. Excerpted by permission from Job Interviews For Dummies, 3rd Edition.

In addition to the prep work you do to verify what the hiring manager really wants, double-check your information at the start of the interview.

Almost as soon as you’re seated, ask the interviewer to describe the scope of the position and the qualifications of the ideal person for that position. Confirming your research or gaining this information on the spot is the key to the entire interview.

If you’re dealing with multiple interviewers, direct your question to the senior panel member and wait for an answer. Then gaze around the group and ask, “Does anyone have something to add to the description?”

Additionally, in covering all your bases to match a job’s requirements, glance quickly at your pre-interview notes. Think cheat sheet. If the interviewer missed a requirement or two listed in the job posting, help the interviewer out. Tactfully bring up the missing criteria yourself. Keep it simple:

I see from my notes that your posting asked for three years’ of experience. I have that and two years more, each with a record of solid performance in —

Once you’re in a room with an interviewer, try to make it easy for the interviewer to believe that you have all (or nearly all) of the skills and attributes that the interviewer is trying to recruit for the position. Emphasize that you meet the specs — point for point.


I can’t tell you how many times — on either the side of the candidate or the interviewer — where there isn’t a clear definition of the job roles and requirements. Good reasons for this, of course, with standardized job descriptions not matching the unique needs of the position and hiring managers generally not having time to review before the interview itself.

Joyce’s “Confirming your research or gaining this information on the spot is the key to the entire interview,” is critical for your success. It’s a great tip.


Joyce Lain Kennedy is the nation’s first syndicated careers columnist. Her work, Careers Now, is distributed by Tribune Media Services and appears in more than 100 newspapers and Web sites.

Job Interviews For Dummies, 3rd Edition is an authoritative theatrically-themed guide that takes readers’ problems seriously but not itself. Richly complete with both fresh and timeless interviewing solutions for job seekers at all levels and size of employer. Special attention is focused on new graduates, career changers, and prime-timers over 50.

The 3rd edition is loaded with scripts and tips to use in a reinvented world of eye-popping technology, workplaces without borders, and a changing generational mix.

Chapters 1,2,3,4, 15,16 & 17 (68 pages) are totally new with game-changing topics. Additionally, the 3rd edition is chock-full of updates and revisions throughout, reflecting important changes in job interviewing practices and tools over the last 8 years. (this is a serious update — Scot)