Tips On Acing Your Job Interviews



A mother grasshopper sparrow feeds four newly hatched chicks, part of a captive breeding program in Florida to save the species from extinction, in a May 2016 file image. (Craig Pittman/Tampa Bay Times/Zuma Press/TNS)

Peter Schlachte

Elizabeth W asks, “What are your tips to ace my next job interview?”

Dear Elizabeth,

For sixteen years, I have been the proud owner of Madam Chirpington, a female sparrow and my dearest friend. Madam Chirpington would sing in the evenings — usually the Star Wars “Imperial March”, but occasionally Johann Bach’s “Symphony in G Minor.” Until last night, that is, when Madam Chirpington was eaten by a snake.

Lizzie — I feel like I can call you Lizzie now that we’ve shared this special moment. Close your eyes, Lizzie and consider Madam Chirpington the sparrow. Hear her birdsong in your ear and realize that the beauty of the sparrow’s song is nothing without a listener to appreciate it. In your job interview, you must become Madam Chirpington the sparrow; you must answer questions not for yourself, but so that your listener will appreciate you. 

What does this look like in practice? In any interview, you must stand out as the most memorable candidate. This begins with the handshake. Most candidates will simply arrive and give a firm handshake to their interviewer, but this is a pedestrian mistake. Instead, you must craft a secret handshake for each interviewer — make sure that you throw in a couple fist bumps with modern twists like “the jellyfish” or “the snail.”

If your interviewers aren’t impressed enough by your handshake to give you the job on the spot, the question phase of your interview will commence. Let’s assume that you’re applying for the position of snake exterminator, as there is no more noble occupation. The employer might ask, “Why did you apply for this position?” In response, you should profusely flatter your interviewer. Examples include, “Business Insider says that you caught six Black Mambas using only your left foot, and I want to learn that skill too,” or, “Forbes ranks you behind Steve Irwin as the second most famous animal hunter of all time, but at least you’re still alive.” It doesn’t matter if your answers are truthful — in fact, it’s generally more advisable to lie — because your goal is to always say what your interviewer wants to hear.

Most other interview questions are pretty straightforward with the exception of the classic “what is your greatest weakness?” Buffoons will answer this in one of two ways: phonily or funnily. If you’re a phony, you’ll say, “I just work too hard all the time,” and if you think you’re funny, you’ll say, “my greatest weakness is my quads; I can only squat 100 pounds.” These are both disastrous answers. Instead of being phony or funny, be infallible. Your answer should always be, “my greatest weakness is that you didn’t hire me the moment I popped out of the womb.” After you drop that answer, stand up and leave, because you’re guaranteed a job.

Now, I would like to close this column with a haiku to Madam Chirpington, without whom, I would have never learned to ace job interviews. Chirp in bird heaven / lovely sparrow of my dreams / I really hate snakes.

Please excuse me; I have a bird funeral to attend.

XOXO in sorrow,