301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

( 35 )

Overview

"As valuable for the executive going into her umpteenth interview as for the college grad seeking his first real job."
-Richard Zackson, Business Coach, Professional Coaching Network

In today's job market, how you perform in an interview can make or break your hiring possibilities. If you want to stand a head above the rest of the pack, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions is the definitive guide you need to the real, and sometimes quirky, questions employers are using...

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Overview

"As valuable for the executive going into her umpteenth interview as for the college grad seeking his first real job."
-Richard Zackson, Business Coach, Professional Coaching Network

In today's job market, how you perform in an interview can make or break your hiring possibilities. If you want to stand a head above the rest of the pack, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions is the definitive guide you need to the real, and sometimes quirky, questions employers are using to weed out candidates.

Do you know the best answers to:

—It looks like you were fired twice. How did that make you feel?
—Do you know who painted this work of art?
—What is the best-managed company in America?
—If you could be any product in the world, what would you choose?
—How many cigars are smoked in a year?
—Are you a better visionary or implementer? Why?

Leaning on her own years of experience and the experiences of more than 5,000 recent candidates, Vicky Oliver shows you how to finesse your way onto a company's payroll.

"Everything I always wanted to know about job interviews but was afraid to be asked."
-Claude Chene, Senior Vice President, Head of Business Development, U.K. and Europe, Sanford Bernstein & Co.

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Business writer Vicky Oliver has compiled her own experiences and those of thousands of others into 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions to provide job seekers with the responses that can make them better candidates. While listing common questions and superb answers, she also explains why each response is appropriate and which techniques can gain extra points from an interviewer. Helpful advice and tips for dealing with trick questions and other interview challenges abound. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402203855
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 284,735
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Vicky Oliver is an award-winning copywriter with several years of experience at brand name, top tier advertising agencies in Manhattan. Ms. Oliver's numerous articles have appeared in the New York Times "Job Market" section, Adweek magazine, and on Crain's New York Business website. She lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

An old adage tells us "there are no stupid questions." If only there were no stupid answers!

If you are tired, underprepared, or overly nervous when you meet your prospect, your chances of performing well decrease dramatically, and even "softball" questions can seem ridiculously challenging. So first, study really hard. And then, sleep really well. (If you have no idea why this is important, it's time to go back and read the Introduction of this book. And tsk, tsk for skipping it in the first place.)

A great first impression is made in an instant. When this is the case, your interviewer may ask you, in so many words, to put yourself in his shoes, and convince him to hire you. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in this situation, first, relax, and then, resolve to knock your interviewer's socks off. Nothing's going to stop you from landing this job!

1. If you were hiring someone for this position, what qualities would you look for?
A. I would look for three main talents, Alex:
1. The ability to solve problems;
2. The ability to nurture strong working relationships; and
3. The ability to close deals.
A candidate who possesses all three qualities would make the ideal associate new business director.

Let me tell you a little bit about my background. I "grew up" on the account side, and for seven years, helped companies like Revlon and Stoli Vodka solve big problems-such as how to position themselves in an increasingly fractured, competitive environment. Revlon, which for years had been the number one cosmetics company, was nervously watching its market share erode. Stoli was in a similar situation, due to Absolut's strong presence in the marketplace. I helped Stoli launch some new flavored vodkas, and the company soon regained valuable market share. Stoli rewarded me by offering me a job working on new product development. And I switched over to the marketing side for the next two years.

In marketing, having good people skills was mandatory. I had to beg vendors and suppliers for more shelf space. I had to chat up bar, restaurant, and hotel owners, and convince them to prominently display our vodkas.

I also wined, dined, and played golf with CEOs, CFOs, and owners of all different types of companies. So I know that I will be extremely resourceful when it comes to attracting new business to your company.

2. What would you like me to know about you that's not on your resume?
A. Well, Pat, I have the right mix of interpersonal and work-related skills to be a successful commercial real estate agent. A lot of people think that being a good saleswoman is simply a matter of being outgoing. But this is only part of the equation. You also need to be able to solve real problems for companies.

What if the space that you're showing isn't in the ideal neighborhood? You've got to persuade your prospect that the value of the property will overcome the inherent drawbacks of the location. What if the commercial space doesn't have as many windows as the company's current property? You have to help your client envision a different way to carve out the space, if only to muffle the complaints of the top executives. You need to be able to think, not just in terms of square footage, but also in terms of "profit per foot" for the company in question.

Above all, it's critical to seal the deal. For the past four years, I was among the top five closers at a large, commercial real estate company.

3. Let's say that I offer you a job. Please tell me how the company will benefit.
A. I am an expert on LED and rotational signage. I have been selling huge, LED signs to stadiums for the past five years. This has involved not only a great deal of technical expertise, in terms of understanding the technology that goes into our product, but also the ability to compare and contrast our offering to others that are less expensive to implement and maintain.

I've had to convince large groups of people, who are not technically inclined, to spend the money for a quality product. I always promise them tremendous service on both the front and back end, and then follow through. As a result, my clients have been very pleased with my performance.

Your company will benefit from my expertise on three counts: 1) I will train your sales staff how to close on deals more quickly and profitably, 2) I will share my extensive contact base with your company, and 3) I will reorganize your service department to be more "hands on." Then, your customers will give your company those glowing referrals that will lead to even more new business.

4. Why should I hire you?
A. Well, Martin, as we've been discussing, your company's website could probably benefit from a complete overhaul. For a first website, it's not bad...It covers all of the pertinent information that you want your customers to know about your business. But I agree with your own assessment, and feel that your website could be more inspired. You need some technical help with links, and I know how to come up with the key words and phrases that will bring a lot more web traffic to your site.

I think that a more creative flash opening, along with some music and graphics will keep customers on your site longer. It would be helpful to have something there that was continually updated in real time, perhaps some company news, or even games that would reward people for learning more about your services.

I've created twenty websites for all different companies, and one of them is in a similar line of business. I'd love to show you that website, so that you can get an idea of what's possible for your company. Can we hop onto your laptop right now?

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Table of Contents

Professional Acknowledgments

Introduction: How to Prepare for the Most Harrowing Forty-Five Minutes of Your Life: The Job Interview

Chapter 1:
Start with the Basics: Answering the Easy Questions

Chapter 2:
Give Us One Good Reason Not to Hire You

Chapter 3:
You're Too Old, Too Young, Too Seasoned, Too Green, Too Female

Chapter 4:
The Impossible Question

Chapter 5:
How to Answer the Personality Test

Chapter 6:
None of Your Business
(Or, Are You Really Allowed to Ask Me That?)

Chapter 7:
Good Cop/Bad Cop Routines in the Interviewing Game

Chapter 8:
Questions from Another Galaxy, Far, Far Away

Chapter 9:
So You Were Fired

Chapter 10:
Your Turn

Chapter 11:
If I'd Only Said X Instead of Y, I'd Be Hired
(Or, How to Change Your Answers after the Interview)

Chapter 12:
Special Situations

Conclusion:
How to Snag the Job of Your Life in Forty-Five Minutes

Appendix:
Job Websites
Index
About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

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(25)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2006

    Get the book for its questions, not its answers (3.5 stars)

    Yes, there are 301 answers in Vicky Oliver's book. Actually, there are slightly more than that because a few of the 301 questions have more than one answer. Each of the book's 12 chapters contain an interviewer's questions and an interviewee's answers on issues or challenges that could emerge in a job interview. Two examples: Chapter 2 is 'Give Us One Reason Not to Hire You', and Chapter 5 is 'How to Ace the Personality Test'. Throughout the chapters are supporting graphics and discussion sidebars that are generally very good tips, instructions, etc. As examples, Chapter 1 has a sidebar 'How to Pack for Your Interviews' (i.e., what to take or not take with you to an interview), and Chapter 7 has one called 'Games Interviewers Play'. Each chapter ends with a discussion or summary called 'That's a Wrap'. The best aspect of the book is its list of questions. If a job interviewee studies, and is prepared for as many of these questions as possible, he or she should end up with a job offer. The book's weakest aspect is the hypothetical answers to those 301 questions. The reader will have to take many of Ms. Oliver's proposed answers with a large grain of salt, because so many of the answers just won't apply to most job candidates. Pages 77-78 provide the most glaring example. The hypothetical interviewee is a cum laude graduate who speaks 4 languages fluently and has a parent in the diplomatic corps. Not very many people fit this description, and those who do probably won't need this book. Which is unfortunate, because those people who aren't in such elite company are the ones who could benefit from this book's concept. Ms. Oliver also has a tendency to engage in hyperbole. Some examples: 'super busy', 'extremely diligent', 'absolutely brilliant', 'absolutely phenomenal', 'unbelievably thorough', and 'unbelievably dedicated'. Enthusiasm is one thing, but these descriptions tend to push credibility a little too hard, because they raise the possibility, for example, that an interviewee could be a mere 'somewhat phenomenal', or, even worse, just an ordinary run-of-the-mill 'phenomenal'. Ms. Oliver's use of the term 'dream job' is another form of hyperbole that could get an interviewee into trouble. A dream job is a goal that we should all be working towards. But the harsh reality is that, for most people most of the time, the job they're applying for falls somewhere short of that ideal. So, if they use the term dream job in an interview, they'll need to be able to prove such a statement if they're serious about getting the job. For most of us, the honest statement we can, and should make is that we'd genuinely like to have the job we're applying for. On a few occasions, Ms. Oliver proposes offering to work as a free-lance in a sort of probationary or trial period. In many industries, this isn't a common practice and is probably non-existent in some. But the idea might be worth a try in the right circumstances. (Be sure it's only short-term and that you don't price yourself too low. Assume that, as an independent contractor, fully half of your gross income will go for taxes, expenses, etc.) The book has an odd mistake. On page 326, the sentence says, 'Even interviewing proteges have occasionally flubbed a particularly tough question.' Apparently, the author was trying to say 'interviewing prodigies'. Conclusion: For most readers, the book's questions will be much more useful than its proposed answers to those questions. But that's probably the way it should be, because each reader/interviewee will ultimately have to devise his or her own set of answers, anyway. Buy the book for its questions, not its answers.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    Not Too Helpful for Lower Level Jobs

    I have mixed feelings about this book because on one hand it addressed a lot of common interview questions but on the other hand I felt the audience for this book is the higher paying jobs and management positions. I thought some of the recommended responses were too phony and too pushy. It is one of those books that you should pick and choose which ideas are suitable for you and which ones sound too unrealistic. The book did not give information geared to the more common problems that lower paid employees encounter when trying to find a job. I have read better articles on the internet for job interviewing advice.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2006

    Great book - Personal trainer for the job hunter

    Ms. Oliver is like a personal trainer for the marathon called job hunting. By guiding you through many questions, answers, and ¿what if¿ scenarios, she builds you up to feel prepared and confident, having the best shot at winning over the interviewer. Sophisticated as well as humorous, her advise is both classic and current. A very valuable book for both the seasoned interviewer, as well as a recent college grad... I highly recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2005

    Best New Job Hunters Guide!

    This is the best new job hunters resource to come around in years! Vicky Oliver is smart and funny in the answers she gives you and has every possible situation a job hunter can expect in mind. Every college graduate should be issued this book with their diploma!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2005

    Want a Job? Interviewing Others? Read This Book!!

    Over the past twelve months, I have both interviewed for jobs and interviewed over two dozen potential employees. Only after reading this book did I realize how much I had to learn, whether being interviewed or trying to ask the prying questions of those I had interviewed. 301 Smart Answers is an easy read, but is filled with so many inciteful comments on how to effectively control the interview process, communicate your strengths and avoid the pitfalls. I am strongly recommending this book for anyone who plans to sit on either side of the desk.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Well worth it!

    Great book! I loved the easy to read layout, the logical and clear organization and all the excellent tips along the way - and the interview responses were often as interesting as the questions. Great job!! I will recommend it to all my dissatisfied/out-of-work friends!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2006

    An Essential Interview Tool For Everyone

    Bravo to Vicky Oliver for explaining the inside scoop on mastering the art of the interview. She does so in an intelligent and entertaining fashion. I found her recommendations to be witty, insightful and a valuable asset to anybody who needs to be able to persuade an audience, be it for a job interview or for that matter, anything else. Abbe R. Krieger, AbbeRose Marketing and Public Relations

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    HOMEWORK FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

    Hey if you have to prep for a job interview, why not raed this book? It made me feel better prepared and confident before going on my interview!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2006

    How To Get Out of What Your Parents Wanted for You and Get What You Want

    I am a former actress/writer/performer turned attorney....now transitioning out of law and back into the arts. Not an easy task in the middle of my life. How good are Vicky's book and clinic? How 'bout this: I GOT THE JOB!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2006

    How To Get Out of What Your Parents Wanted (for You)

    I am a second career attorney that is looking to transition out of law and back into a pre-law interest. Needless to say, despite my talent, I haven't interviewed in some time. Vicky's book and seminar enabled me to hone in on producing a better resume, turn supposed 'weaknesses' into strengths, and answer difficult interview questions. She helps you nail the job!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2005

    Need a Job ? You need this book first.

    Simply put: this is a great book. It will help you negotiate the traps and pitfalls of difficult interviews. It provides insightful, practical advice on how to answer your way to the job you want. Reading it will certainly challenge and change your mind-set prior to an interview and help ensure you get your positive points across in a clear, coherent manner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2005

    Phenomenal

    Ms. Oliver has written a genuinely insightful and helpful guide for job seekers everywhere. Her approach is to arm candidates with the responses they can give interviewers that will lead to call-back appointments and live offers. Beyond that, her book is actually a lively and engaging read. She's truly a job hunter's friend in need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2005

    Essential Reading for the Sophisticated Job Hunter

    This book is an invaluable tool for preparing yourself for those really tough job interviews. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2005

    Entertaining and informative.

    Entertaining and informative...Chapter 9 alone is worth the price of this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2005

    Smooth Sailing

    An essential resource for anyone on the job hunt. It's funny and insightful and will put you at ease for the most difficult interviews.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    Best Interview Book Ever!!!

    Anyone thinking of going on an interview (or conducting one for that matter) must read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2005

    Practical, thoughtful, thorough -- and fun!

    Facing a tough interview? Been out of the job market for a while? Vicky Oliver has 301 smart answers for you. Vicky Oliver has produced the job seeker's equivalent of MAPQUEST. Better: it's like an SAT prep course for interviewees.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2005

    Great book

    This book is really clever, punchy and accessible with great advice and should be very valuable for job hunters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Great Resource -- 301 Tough Interview Questions, in 1 Book!

    Wow! What a terrific resource. If you've ever been in an interview and been tongue-tied, struggling to formulate a clever response to a question intended to trip you up, you should definitely buy this book. 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions has lots of practical advice and great examples to reduce anxiety for interviewees. It's a wonderfully witty read too. This is a can't miss graduation gift idea...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    A Must Read

    If only I had read this book when I first got out of college! This is a Must Read for anyone looking for a (new) job. It's insightful, witty and very, very helpful.

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