Prepare for an Interview

A few weeks ago, I talked about the best way to look for work. But once you find a good prospect, how do you prepare for an interview?

Every company has its own special protocol for job interviews: what questions to ask; what responses to look for; what kind of socks the person should be wearing; how they should pronounce the word bruschetta.

I don't know about any of that. When I interview someone for Steiner Sports, I mainly look for a few basic traits: a positive, flexible attitude; a clear willingness to work hard and intelligently; resourcefulness; and likability.

How do I gauge these traits? I have a little "acid test for hiring someone," which I'll explain here.

If I don't mind saying so, the nice thing about learning my acid test is that it will help you either conduct an interview yourself OR show you how to prepare for an interview. Because no matter what protocol a company follows, every employer will evaluate these qualities in some way or other:

ACID TEST FOR HIRING SOMEONE (Ask or Be Prepared to Answer the following)

1. How have they made money previously?

This is always very revealing:

It can show how passionate someone is about the field (do they have a history with it, or do they just bounce around looking for paychecks wherever they can be found?). It can show how resourceful they are (have they made money in creative ways?).
It can show whether or not they might be an arch criminal (if they get a little shifty when you ask;).

prepare for an interview

2. If you got stuck in an airport with them for three hours, how would you feel?

If they're smart and capable but also someone who seems like a big buzzkill, with no sense of humor - or someone who seems, well, boring - then you probably don't want to work with them no matter how they pronounce aioli.

prepare for an interview

3. They wake up in the morning to learn that they're getting a snow day off from work. What do they do?

I don't look for an answer like: "I'd spend all day working from home! I'd use it as a chance to get ahead!"

See, that is the kind of person you don't want to be stuck in the airport with. That person is a sycophantic BS-er.

I look for an answer like: "I'd spend the morning making sure I was all caught up with all the work I could do from home. Then I'd see if there was anything extra I could do from home. Then I'd call my friends to go sledding." (Or "Then I'd go have a snowball fight with my kids" or "Then I'd take care of some house errands I usually don't have time for.")

prepare for an interview

4. How would you feel if this person ended up working for a competitor?

Sometimes the best way to tell how much you should appreciate someone is to imagine them with someone else.

Works for relationships AND employment!

(If you're the interviewee here, be someone your interviewer wouldn't want to let go!)

5. Change the location of the next interview - if there is one - at the last minute.

You know, just to see how they are on their toes.

prepare for an interview


The bottom line is that every employer, to some extent, wants to hire for attitude and train for skill.

Knowing my acid test questions - and being able to answer them well - will help both sides prepare for an interview.


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