How to be the perfect interviewee

GET THE JOB YOU REALLY WANT
BY JAMES CAAN
Portfolio Penguin, £12.99

IF YOU were going to create a parody of an inspirational business book, it would look a lot like Get The Job You Really Want (the “really” is actually underlined on the book’s cover). It has all the hallmarks of an inspirational business tome, from the picture of the author looking arrogant on the cover to the story of the guy who pitches up in reception despite not being qualified, blows everybody’s socks off and gets the job. And it has the galloping, go-getting style, replete with clashing metaphors (do pendulums really move in cycles?)

A lot of it is entry-level stuff – if you want to move sector, look at your core skills and then find where these are required; dress smartly to an interview. But Caan has been in recruitment for 30 years and he knows his onions. The best bits in this book are when he tells you how an interviewer thinks, and how the interviewee can use that knowledge to his advantage. So, for example, an interviewer wants somebody who shows an interest in the business. Caan says that he would be very impressed by somebody who carted a load of highlighted printouts of the company website. In fact, notes of any kind are good. Interviewers like to know that you have done your research. Bundles of paper prove it.

Also, he says, remember at an interviewer has a checklist in their head, and if you can find out what’s on that then you can make sure you tick the boxes. So, start out by asking questions; what are the five key components of the job? And who did it before? This will tell you exactly what you need to prove, and let’s you get on with the job of doing so. Sneaky? Maybe. But it’s also simple and brilliant. It’s full of little gems. Oh, and if Caan’s own style is anything to go by, the successful applicant uses people’s first names in job interviews. A lot. Even if you don’t go down that route, even the most hardened interview veteran will learn something from this book.