How to win at job interviews, according to Google's HR boss

Catherine Neilan
Follow Catherine
Tip number five: Read the room - how can you connect with your interviewer? (Source: Getty)

Google's senior vice president of people operations Laszlo Bock wants to help you win at job interviews.

He's about to publish a book about succeeding at work and ahead of that has been posting advice on how to get a job at Google (or anywhere).
Ahead of publication he is also sharing six tips on what you should do to “ convince the person on the other side of the table to hire you”.
It might not be what you'd expect from the optimists at Silicon Valley (who in the same post writes that he wants “all of us to have meaningful jobs” so we don't feel like “replaceable cogs in a machine”.
In fact, Bock's top tip sounds much more Wall Street than Mountain View: use everyone else's incompetence – even the interviewer's - to your advantage.
Here is an excerpt from the book Work Rules:
Most of what we think is “interviewing” is actually the pursuit of confirmation bias. Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” Worthless.

And here are Bock's six tips for job interview success

1.Predict the future. You can anticipate 90 per cent of the interview questions you’re going to get. It’s an easy list to generate. “Why do you want this job?” “What’s a tough problem you’ve solved?” If you can’t think of any, Google “most common interview questions.” Write down the top 20 questions you think you’ll get.
2. Plan your attack. For every question, write down your answer. Yes, it’s a pain to actually write something. It’s hard and frustrating. But it makes it stick in your brain. That’s important. You want your answers to be automatic. You don’t want to have to think about your answers during an interview. Why not? Keep reading.
3. Have a backup plan. Actually, for every question, write down three answers. Why three? You need to have a different, equally good answer for every question because the first interviewer might not like your story. You want the next interviewer to hear a different story. That way they can become your advocate.
4. Prove yourself. Every question should be answered with a story that proves you can do what you’re being asked about. “How do you lead?” should be answered with “I’m a collaborative/decisive/whatever leader. Let me tell you about the time I ….” Always tell a story or have facts to prove you are what you say you are. More on how to construct and tell these stories in a future article.
5. Read the room. All that brainpower you’re not using to desperately come up with answers to questions? Look around. Focus on the interviewer. In the first 10 seconds, is there anything in their office, or about them, you can notice and use to forge a connection? A book on a shelf? A family photo? A painting? Read the interviewer: is their body language open or closed? Are they tired and should you try to pep them up? Do they like your answer or should you veer in another direction?
6.Make it to Carnegie Hall. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Same goes for getting a job. When I was in my second year of business school, I practiced my interview answers -- out loud -- until I could tell each story smoothly, without thinking about it (but not so smoothly that I was bored with the re-telling). My roommate walked in one day to find me sitting on the futon reciting why I thought I was a great leader again and again. He figured I was stuck in some kind of Stuart Smalley-like self-help loop. But I got seven job offers from five companies (that’s another story) and was on track to get another six before I stopped interviewing. How is that possible? Practice.
Work Rules: Insights from inside Google that will transform how you Live and Lead is available for pre-order and ships on April 7.

Related articles