Job Search Tip of the Week #23 (2018)


How to Ace Your First-Round (or Really, Just About Any) Interview

Think Like an Interviewer – Q17

It’s Audiobook Appreciation Month! To celebrate, we’re going to tackle one of the most commonly asked interview questions: What book are you currently reading?

There are many variations to this question, such as “What book do you plan on purchasing next?” and “What was the last book that you read?” Regardless of how it’s phrased, the question is primarily designed to help the interviewer determine several aspects of your personality and preferences, such as:

  • if you have intellectual curiosity, and are passionate about satisfying it;
  • whether you can effectively formulate and articulate your own opinions;
  • how in tune you are with industry or professional trends; and
  • what your interests are.

That being said, there isn’t a right answer – but there are four major ways job candidates can go wrong:

  • Outright lying. Naming whatever’s currently topping the bestsellers list, or claiming to have read or be reading a book you haven’t is dangerous – especially if the interviewer has already read it or is a fan of the author’s. And even if the interviewer has never heard of the book, he or she can tell when you’ve only read as far as the dust jacket or Cliff Notes version!
  • Failing to provide more detail. Don’t just give the book’s title! Reveal why you selected the book to read in the first place, and mention two or three interesting concepts and offer opinions about them. You should always be prepared to thoroughly and intelligently discuss what you learned or liked/disliked.
  • Not relating it back to the job and organization at hand. It’s always best to bring up a book whose subject matter is related to your personal or professional development, or from an industry or career thought leader. For example, as an entry-level or junior software engineer, you might tell the interviewer that you’ve been going through Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s résumé writing and coding interview prep books. And if for instance you’re looking to obtain more management responsibilities or a team lead position, you might bring up self-improvement books like Harvard Business Review’s “On Managing People” or “Communicating Effectively.”
  • Being unprepared. As mentioned above, there are many alternatives to this question. What book would you recommend – or discourage – reading? The interviewer could also call for you to name a fiction novel you recently read and discuss how it relates to your interests. Or, ask about the last two, three, or four books you read in order to determine whether you’re a regular reader (and by association, continuous learner!). You should also be ready to demonstrate that you are curious about and well-versed in a wide repertoire of topics.

Time to sound off, bookworms: What book are you currently reading?

Blogging Forward,

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Image Credit: Pinterest, pinned by Elle J Seda