In a two-part series on “Resume Nightmares,” I laid out scenarios from reality shows like “The Profit.” “Kitchen Nightmares,” and “Bar Rescue,” where strong statements from the shows’ stars harshly attack product (food and/or service) and owners. I suggested that the processes suggested from these shows provide some interesting ways for improving resumes. In reviewing these shows, I was also struck with some key points about interviews. Related: Job Seekers: Prepare For Bad Interview Questions Overall, there was one strong conclusion: the stars of these shows are tough, excellent interviewers. This offers the opportunity for some good interview preparation for job seekers.
Lesson #1 – Start With A StoryIn almost every one of these shows, the interview with the owner begins with “tell me about why you started this business” or a very close variation of this. It’s clearly better than the ubiquitous “tell me about yourself” because it provides clear guidance on what’s expected. While it may not be applicable in all interview settings, I believe that for most, it’s very good to know your story of how you decided to become a teacher, or why you joined the military, or why your first job at a fast-food restaurant sparked your interest in a customer service profession. I’ve made the same argument for describing your accomplishments. Each of your significant accomplishments is a story. It’s not just a boring, fact-based description of the tasks you performed. Prepare and practice telling the stories of your career. You may find them boring – because you lived them. As an interviewer, I’m fascinated by the details of your experiences.
Lesson #2 – Tough LoveFor many years, I’ve used a technique that I recognized in these reality shows, particularly “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Bar Rescue” – although I never pushed it to the intensity of the shows. Maybe the intensity is justified. In many workshops, I’ve discussed that “tell me about yourself” opening. I’ve asked all the participants to be prepared to answer that question – and warned them that I would “sound the whistle” or shout “stop” if the answer was weak or irrelevant. In hundreds of examples, the overwhelming majority were stopped after the first few words, frequently with the start of life stories that started with birth. Watching these reality shows, I’ve become particularly intrigued by Gordon Ramsey’s “You’re deluded!” In an “Interview Makeover” world, I’d like to conduct mock interviews with job seekers where weak answers were immediately confronted with:
- “Stop! Tell me what you accomplished – not this boring repetition of tasks!”
- “You’re deluded! What you’re telling me isn’t the important part of what the result was!”
- “Give me specifics! Stop just telling me how great everything is (was).”
Lesson #3 – Asking OthersFrom an interviewer perspective, I would love to use one of the techniques used automatically in “Kitchen Nightmares.” It’s also an element that I want to recommend job seekers seriously consider. When Gordon Ramsey first visits a restaurant, he is likely to talk to staff members about the restaurant, about the food, about the owner – before he meets the owner. He’ll ask:
- What’s wrong with the place?
- Tell me about the food?
- What would you recommend?
- Is this fresh?