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How to Look Smart in a Job Interview

on May 30, 13 • by • with No Comments

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Thomas Friedman wrote in The New York Times yesterday that potential employers no longer care about your college degree. Whether that’s true or not, it’s definitely the case that the job market is more competitive than ever, so nailing the interview is key, bro. 

You’re the man, and here are some ways to look smart in a job interview:

  1. "Bob, here are three reasons you should hire me, Bob..."

    “Bob, here are three reasons you should hire me, Bob…”

    Drop names. This is the best way to impress pretty much everyone, but especially people in interviews. Say stuff like, “one time Zuck, Sean Parker and I were drinking beer and talking about the social graph…” or “Biz asked me my opinions on the future of the written word” or “I wish David Karp had a name like ‘Zuck’ or ‘Biz’ so that when I mentioned him in an interview I didn’t have to say his full name.” Even by dropping these names in this article you can tell the circles I run in.  See – it works!

  2. Call your interviewer by name….over-and-over-over. This is a great little Dale Carnegie nugget, so if doing it a little is effective, then doing it a lot is way better. Work that name into your opening conversation like this: “Paul, I’ve had two jobs in eight months, Paul, so I’ve learned an awful lot about how companies work, Paul. Paul, let me ask you about compensation…”
  3. Use English phrases/pronunciation: Americans are fascinated with English accents to the point that many companies ask their one English employee to do the recording on the company voicemail di-rectory. So remember – the interviewer is your “mate,” your cellphone is a “mo-bile” and you left your last job because your old boss was a “bloody wanker.”
  4. Wear Google Glass(es)NerdGlassesIf you can get your hands on a pair of Google Glasses, your interviewer will see that you’re edgy, connected and a super-early adopter. If you can’t get a pair, just buy some of these and strap a transistor radio to the side.
  5. Mention your copious personal connections on LinkedIn. Today’s companies aren’t just hiring you – they’re hiring your social graph. So this interviewer person is going to be blown away that you have over 1,000 connections on LinkedIn. After all, you could call any one of these personal friends and ask them for a favor, right?
  6. Make no fewer than three references to TED talks.  Only smart people speak at TED, so only smart people watch TED (Note: these are not related with the Mark Wallberg movie about his pot-smoking teddy bear). If you don’t have time to watch a TED Talk, just say this: “…it’s sort of that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing…” The context doesn’t matter – he’ll know what you mean.
  7. Drop an F-bomb or two. This tells the interviewer that you’re cool and you know it. If he seems down with the aggressive language, go ahead and make some unmistakable reference to casual drug use. If your interviewer is a woman, it never hurts to say/ask “I get the sense you like to party – am I right?”
  8. Describe yourself as a “visionary” or at least an “expert”: Hey, you were tossing sheep on Facebook in like 2007, way before this doofus had even heard of MySpace. That fact alone means that you understand the dynamics of how major corporations leverage social media as an important component – but still only one component – of a complex and nuanced communications strategy.
  9. Talk about your MBA incessantly. You worked hard for that online degree and even though you’re trying to land a job at an ad agency, this interviewer needs to understand that you once knew how to price a bond.
  10. Remind them “I don’t really need this job”:  This one gets ‘em all frothed up for you, as it establishes that you’re a hot property. Another option here is to say, “Hey, you called me, bro…” You gotta show them that even in this economy you could take it or leave it. That’s the attitude.
  11. I am the man. I am the man. I am the man.

    I am the man. I am the man. I am the man.

    Outline a set of goals you may or may not accomplish. “I might learn Spanish,” “I might do a half marathon,” or “I’m thinking of volunteering more…well, some…” The interviewer will see your good intentions as evidence of your pure and curious soul. Be sure to follow up each objective with an explanation of why it’s actually a bad idea in a way that paints you as a virtuous person. “Then again, I probably won’t volunteer at the soup kitchen because I wouldn’t want all those hungry people seeing how happy I am being slightly overweight.”

  12. Pre-interview affirmation:  Just before the interview, look at the mirror and tell yourself repeatedly:  “I am the most important person this company has ever talked to. If they don’t hire me, they will fail and go bankrupt.” Keep telling yourself as you walk into the meeting, between interviewers and for the several months afterwards as you wait for their follow-up correspondence. 

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