A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I would soon be hitting the bricks in an attempt to find new work. I’m dusting off my own resume, polishing up my Craigslist Spin Doctor Resume Service ad, increasing the numbers of fitness classes I do, and considering writing proposals. It turns out I’m not the only one. People in the same field as me are also reinforcing their shoe leather.

Some are even coming in my direction to proofread their resumes and cover letters. Some have even confided in me that they were afraid of interviews. I told them the same thing I tell my clients at work. If you’re afraid of the interview, you have the wrong mindset.

Then I show them the following video brought to you by a large soda pop company:


There are four classes of interview questions that recruiters and other HR people use to conduct the conversation and get the information they want: The Ice Breaker class, the Behaviour classes, the Out-In-Left Field class, and the Say Good-bye class

 Then I start an interview. I start with what is usually the first question –the Ice Breaker. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” I say.

When they start to go off track and talk about their spouses, the relative humidity when they were born, and what they like to do on the weekends, I blow the whistle. “You need to focus on work,” I say. “I want a profile of who you’ve worked for, what you do at work, where you’ve done it, Why you want to do it, how long you’ve done it. (Who, what, where, when and why, plus how long) Make up a bio of yourself following this pattern and you won’t  go wrong.

Tell me about a time when you had a pain in the ass co-worker who never did any work at all, and, in fact, you ended up doing a lot of his/her work. This is called a behavioral question, where the asker wants to assess what you would do in such a situation. Think of a variety of scenarios before your next interview. Use these scenarios that will enable you to tell a story about how you solved a problem, confronted the person, found a way to solve the problem (perhaps it was a training issue) then came up with a solution. The interviewer really wants to see you stick your head in the toilet and come up with a mouthful of grapes.. Take some time to write some stories.

Left field questions are fiendish little ploys to find out whether you can work under pressure. Some that I have heard include

  • Tell me here you want to be in 5 years. (This means Can you set goals?)
  • Sell me this paperclip. (Can you think on your feet?)
  •  If you were a cartoon character, who would it be? (For whatever reason, I’ve always had luck with Dagwood, Popeye, and Yosemite Sam.)
  • How am I as an interviewer? (Tell them you don’t know whether he/she is meeting the goals of assessing you as an employee, but you’re enjoying the process, then say …”You’re style is certainly worth a strong thank-you note. I want to make sure I have your card).

Saying  good-bye. The last question might be “Do you have any questions for our company/agency etc. The Vancouver Whitecaps had a coach named Tony Waiters. Regarding penalty kicks, he once said to the goaltender, “Don’t do nothing!” He meant that literally. Move one way or the other. You have a 50::50 chance of making a save. The same thing with this peach of a question. “Don’t say nothing!”

Many people say they don’t have a question, and they missed out on a perfect opportunity to sell themselves one last time. Here’s a favourite one of mine:

“What, in your opinion, would be the qualities of the best person for the position? “

The reason I like it is that they have to answer it, and they will – listing qualities off the job description. That will give you a chance to respond by once again matching your resume to their question.

Good luck out there, job seekers. Fight!

For the time being, Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. or at 604-464-4195.  If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.



  1. Sharon Says:

    Funny! And good advice. Where were you back when I was trying to climb the bureaucratic ladder and periodically falling on my face.

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