107
...NOW TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE
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CHAPTER SIX
GLAD YOU GRADUATED,
N
OW TELL ME ABOUT
YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE
A
ll right. You’ve established your interviewing criteria
by considering such important applicant details as
college internships and grades. Now the bigger questions
need to be asked. The applicant said goodbye to his alma mater
some time ago. What has he done out here in the real world?
Q: Tell me about your last three positions.
Explain what you did, how you did it, whom
you did it with and for, the people you
worked for, and the people you worked with.
What do you want to hear?
Whew. This is a question designed to see how well the
candidate organizes what could be a lot of data into a brief,
coherent overview of three, five, 10, or more years of experi-
ence. It will help you to flesh out the resume, catch inconsisten-
cies, create a roadmap for the far more detailed inquiries to
follow, and evaluate how well the candidate attempts to “edit”
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS HIRE THE BEST PEOPLE
108
answers in order to relate experience/skills to the job at hand.
A prepared candidate may use the well-rehearsed answer to
“tell me about yourself” if this question is substituted, which
isn’t an altogether bad thing for you.
Green light
Pertinent experience and skills.
A candidate who is cognizant of the importance of re-
lating her experience/skills to your job requirements.
A well-thought-out answer expressed in positive terms.
Brevity.
A clear pattern upward of increased responsibility, author-
ity, money, subordinates, skill level, and so on.
Red light
“What exactly do you want to know?” (Answer: What
I just asked for!)
You would think no one would refer to a job that doesn’t
appear on his or her resume, but it happens all the time. (Follow
up: “Your resume says that you were working at ____ during 1996,
but you just said you were working at _____? Can you explain?)
Any complaints about bosses, subordinates, and/or cowork-
ers. You’re seeking a responsible individual, no matter what
the position, so why would you be impressed by anyone at-
tempting to blame everyone else for his failures? Interviewees
should know that even it they weren’t at fault, you’re probably
not going to consider any transfer of blame a positive.
Lateral moves (why not up?) or, worse, clear demotions.
A candidate’s inability to clearly and concisely answer the
question and/or to tie all the experiences into a coherent whole.
STOP
STOP
STOP
GO
109
...NOW TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE
Q: What was your favorite job? Why?
This is a wonderful question because an unsuspecting can-
didate will forget to answer it as an interview question and
might actually tell the truth:
“My favorite job was at WNSD radio. It was very
loose and informal and there was little supervision,
which I really enjoyed. I had the freedom to program
my own shows with little or no interference and only
had to put in 20 hours a week to actually get my work
done, so the rest of the time I could write or think up
new creative ideas.”
Very nice, except she’s applying for a secretarial job work-
ing for four high-powered businesspeople who are always on
deadline and require 10 hours a week overtime at a highly struc-
tured and very rigid old-line firm. Thank her and move on!
Green light
An answer that describes a job very much like the one
you have open.
A candidate who acknowledges that his favorite job
differs from the job at hand in a couple of very specific, per-
haps even important ways, but explains why he has changed
so that the current job is much better now than the favorite
job would be.
Red light
Any answer that clearly is at odds with the job at hand.
The problem isn’t that the last job offered some travel
and this one doesn’t, or the previous position offered
more varied tasks and this one is more highly focused, even if
either happens to be the case. The problem for you is that the
STOP
GO
STOP
STOP

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