Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: 101 Toughest Interview Questions ... and Answers That Win the Job! by Daniel Porot and Frances Bolles Haynes

101 Toughest Interview Questions ... And Answers That Win the Job!
by Daniel Porot and Frances Bolles Haynes
236 pages
published 2009

Some of you know that I'm starting a new job today. What I haven't really talked much about is the process of finding a new job to begin with. As some of you know, the road to get here was a little ... well, let's just say it had a few traffic jams, potholes, and detours.

Take it from me, a seasoned (some might say charbroiled) professional who hadn't interviewed for several years before starting this process: the interview process is not what it used to be.  Far from it, and those who have been out of the game for awhile - and those of us who think we know what we're doing - might need a little refresher course.

Enter this little revised-edition book, 101 Toughest Interview Questions ... and Answers that Win the Job!  by Daniel Porot and Frances Bolles Haynes.  I won this book back in October from the wonderful Eve Tahmincioglu, MSNBC columnist and blogger at, after entering a contest that asked for the strangest interview question I'd ever been asked.

And that would be this, as I wrote to Eve, "Do you make your bed in the morning or at night, and do you do your dishes in the morning or let them sit there all day?" 

A very close runner up would be this one: "What is your favorite movie, and let me warn you - if you answer Scent of a Woman, this interview is over." That last one happened to be a job I got, accepted, and promptly left five weeks later. In hindsight, that question should have been somewhat of a red flag, no? But I was so much younger then and there was the small matter of needing a paycheck. (The latter is still true.)

Fast-forward 15 years and here we are. It's still helpful to have a helping hand throughout this process, because you never know what you're going to be asked during these inquisitions conversations.

I kept 101 Toughest Interview Questions on my night table for the last six months (which probably resulted in some crazy dreams, and we'll get to those in a bit). The book lives up to its billing and delivers 101 tough interview questions - many of which I have been asked during my most recent interview process. 

Porot and Bolles Haynes provide solid, reasonable answers for the common ones ("tell me about yourself" "what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?") as well as the questions that are designed to give you an opportunity to illuminate your accomplishments, to tell of your workplace successes ("which of your achievements has given you the greatest satisfaction?" "what is the most difficult decision you've had to make in the last 12 months?" 'can you give me some examples of your creativity on the job?") to questions that, when asked in a certain way, can almost feel like a psychological proctological ("how do you think your subordinates perceive you?" "what is your favorite website?" "what is your leadership style?")

I have been asked every single one of these questions within the last six months, so right there that tells me that Porot and Bolles Haynes are on top of the latest interviewing trends and styles of today's interviewers.  They give insights into what hiring managers are looking for and the reasons they are asking these questions, and how you can best prepare.  It's great for people who are currently employed and looking elsewhere, as well as those who are returning to work after a long absence or those strugging with the economic fallout of the recession.

What I especially liked about this book is that the authors provide multiple answers (usually between 5-7) for each question. Instead of a cookie-cutter approach to interviewing (as if to say, there is only one right thing to say and this is how to say it), 101 Toughest Interview Questions ... allows you to adapt the responses to your individual situation and style, which will result in making you more comfortable with your interviewer and allowing your true skills and talents to shine through.

It's also a handy little thing, perfect for keeping in your purse or car, as a way to refresh your strategy and talking points before heading into an interview.  (You'll want to read this in the parking lot or someplace off the premises, rather than in the company's reception area. There, it's a good idea to peruse the company newsletter, awards on the wall, framed newspaper articles, anything to make you appear eager and inquisitive about their work.)

Even though I kept this book by my bedside, I wouldn't recommend such because it could lead to wacked-out dreams like this one I had a few months ago:

For some unfathomable reason, I was interviewing with a college magazine for the same writing position that I had left after five weeks (This would be the Scent of a Woman job.)  
The interview was taking place in New York City, very late at night, and I'd travelled to the Big Apple by Amtrak and subway. It was now 3 a.m., the campus cleaning crew had come and gone, and still the interview from hell (which it was in real life - an omen, of sorts) showed no signs of ending. Among those present at the interview: one of the characters from Mad Men, the guy who recently informed the boss that Sterling Cooper was for sale.

Now, see why you shouldn't read 101 Toughest Interview Questions before bedtime?  A therapist would likely have a field day with this, as my dream is loaded with all kinds of psychological treasures.

Thank you, Eve Tahmincioglu, for providing me with this great book and for selecting my entry as the winning one in your contest.  For those in the job market, 101 Toughest Interview Questions ... is a terrific resource and a very helpful book for anyone who has an interview (or two, or three) in his or her future. 

And an unmade bed or unwashed dishes in their house.

FTC disclaimer: as mentioned above, I received this book as the winner of a contest hosted by Eve Tahmincioglu on  I was not compensated for this review and my opinions are purely my own, resulting from my real-life and school of hard knocks experience.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

1 comment:

K A B L O O E Y said...

Thank god I'm not out there looking right now. I was getting stressed out just reading the interview questions. Hope the new job is making you happy.