Job interviews are some of the most stressful and anxious times in your life. If you’re at any level in your job, you’re going to be judged by people you don’t know. You have to boil down the essence of your skills and experience into a series of bite-sized answers for people who don’t know you. Fear that you’ll miss out on a great job because you didn’t answer a question correctly, or because your handshake was too sweaty, or because the interviewer asked how many hot dogs are eaten every day in the world.
To avoid disaster and regret, you need to be ready. If you have time to read before your interview, you can learn the skills and come up with strategies that will help you even if you don’t get the job. Here are some books that will make you a favorite of hiring managers all over the world.
Presence, by Amy Cuddy
In an interview, there’s a lot more to it than just learning about the company you’re going to work for. There’s a lot more to it than just studying up on the company and being ready to answer every question with your experience and intelligence. TED Talk: Harvard professor Cuddy spoke about this very thing, and then he wrote a book about how you can use your energy and physicality to be confident and present in the moment. This book will help you understand how to do that. Interviews may not be the only place where Cuddy can help you make a good impression, but there is little doubt that his ideas will help you make a better impression in the room.
Cracking the Code to a Successful Interview, by Evan Pellett
Find out what recruiters and hiring managers are thinking, and what they want from you, by going right to the heart of the matter. Pellet has put together a clear, eight-step process that will help you take control of the interview instead of rushing to keep up. This way, you can lead the conversation instead of rushing to keep up. Pellet helps you see through the superficial differences to the core process that all interviewers use to make decisions, so you can see how they all work.
The Art of the Interview, by James Storey
What is your least favorite thing about you? If you don’t know how to answer questions like “how would you design a spice rack for the blind?” or “how would you write a letter to the blind?” then you might not be able to do your best. Reading Storey’s book is a great way to get ready for any kind of question that comes up. Storey gives ideal answers to all kinds of questions and explains why he thinks they are the best ones. A lot of sample questions are in the book, so you can practice your polished answers as well as think outside the box when you’re asked a new question.
Smart Answers to Tricky Interview Questions, by Rob Yeung
In addition to difficult interview questions, Yeung’s book looks at other situations from an insider’s point of view. His job is to write interview questions for recruiters. He gives advice on how to quickly build rapport with interviewers and how to deal with a wide range of unexpected situations, including those tricky questions that make you think you’re going to panic (and maybe they are). It’s refreshing to see Yeung’s all-business approach. If you’re short on time before the big day, you’ll get a lot for your money.
How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes
An interview is, at its core, a meeting between people. Some of us are good at being charming and relaxed when we meet new people, and some of us aren’t so good at it at all. Lowndes gives advice on how to stay calm and in control of every situation, and how to use that comfort to build commanding conversational skills that will help you in a wide range of situations, even the most intimidating interviews. Lowndes talks about everything from massaging egos to reading rooms. These skills will make it easier for you to make your presentation perfect in almost any interview, so you can show off your knowledge and experience.
What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard N. Bolles
This is a great resource for people who are looking for a job. It has been updated for the modern world, but it is still very useful. It talks about everything you need to do to find a new job, from writing your resume to networking effectively to, of course, the interview itself. While it makes sense to focus on the interview when you’ve made it this far with your dream job, you have to get there first. This resource will not only help you prepare for the interview, but it will also help you find the right job and make sure you get the first call.
Business Writing Today, by Natalie C. Canavor
A lot of things happen after a job interview, like thank-you emails and follow-up calls. This is actually part of the interview process. As long as your follow-ups are written poorly and have typos and grammatical errors, it doesn’t matter how good you were in the room. In Canavor, they don’t have a general writing guide. Instead, they have a specific guide for business writing. Before your interview, read this to learn how to write emails that sound like they came from a professional company. This will help you finish off a great interview performance. Afterwards, this book will also help you keep that level of competence in all the emails you write.
Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell
In your job interview, you might wonder how George Orwell’s memoir about living in poverty at the start of the century can help you learn more about what it was like to be poor. What is the answer? He was young and dumb in the way that young people all over the world were. A woman of low reputation stole from him while he was spending time with her, and Orwell came up with a story on the spot to keep his parents from being shocked. When he was broke, he had to get a job washing dishes to make money. That job led to his first major publication credit, so he had to do it. The point? It’s possible that your job search will take you in a new direction. Sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination.
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
So many people think they’re different from everyone else in the business world because they want to be CEOs or executives. Chances are you’ll run into at least one Jobs fanatic who thinks management is all about making things happen. Before you go into an interview, you should know what that person thinks. Plus, it’s a good reminder that even Steve Jobs was fired and had to find a new job. So don’t worry too much about the interview. If it doesn’t work out, there will be a second time.
Grant, by Ron Chernow
In your upcoming job interview, what can you learn from the biography of one of the best military leaders in the United States? That’s what happened to Grant for the first 40 years of his life. He lost jobs, lived in near-poverty, and was a broken, sad-sack of man by the time of the Civil War. Because no matter how many interviews you fail, you’re not done until you give up. He rose to be the supreme commander of the United States military, and then became president. Get some rest, read more books, and send out another batch of resumes while you’re taking a break.