11 July 2019

On job interviews


  1. The day before the interview, confirm your interview attendance via email.
  2. Know your resume in terms of
    - Quality of education
    - Quality of work experience
    - Discipline knowledge
    - Transferable cognitive skills: Communication skills, quality of judgement, problem solving skills
    - Transferable behavioural traits: Interpersonal skills
  3. Know the ethical standards of your profession.
  4. Learn about the organization: Assume that you will only be able to use up to 25% of your knowledge about the company, so do not force information into your interview answers.
  5. Learn about the people that will interview you. E.g. LinkedIn


  1. Dress professionally according to the tribal culture (e.g. journalists, programmers), conservatively but not too conservatively, something that shows your personality.
  2. Bring two copies of your resume to the interview, one for the interviewer(s) and one for yourself, in case you need a detail from it.
  3. Greet every interviewer with a good handshake.
  4. Be honest without malice. Honesty beats everything else by far. (And you wouldn't want to work for an organization that doesn't appreciate honesty.)
  5. Have good answers for the standard questions. (Google standard interview questions, if you don't know them.)
  6. Prepare three questions that you want to ask. They can be standard questions, but the must be relevant. E.g.: What does the work day/week/year look like for the holder of this position? Is there anything that I failed to address in my answers?
  7. Say good-bye to every interviewer with a good handshake.


  1. After the interview, send a genuine thank you note via email.
  2. Never ask for feedback from interviewers unless they offer it.


  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Why should we hire you?
  3. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  4. Tell us about our organization.
  5. Tell us about a time when you had to handle a conflict. (Situation, action, result)
  6. How do you manage work/life balance?
  7. What is your leadership/management style?
  8. Do you have any questions for us?
  9. What are your salary expectations?

This last one is one annoying question. First, any organization should know the financial value of a position and have properly budgeted for it. Second, it always sounds to me as if an organization wants to see what little salary they can get away with. Third, candidates will feel that they have to underbid their competitors, when really they should be competing on merit rather than desperation. In fact, I would urge organizations to include a salary ranges in their job postings.

Still, if you are urged to give a number tell them: "Compensation is a complex utility function of responsibilities, workload, number of supervised staff, quality of supervised staff, work hours, benefits, vacation, work environment, collegiality, Pink's big three (autonomy, mastery, purpose), goals, resources, salary of supervisor, salaries of supervised staff, etc.." Then give them a range of what you think is the minimum to the maximum financial value of the position. The range may be quite large, e.g. $80,000 to 160,000, which is fine, they wanted a number, and you gave them one.