Which would you buy, a book on how to design a dress by Adolf Hitler or Donna Karan? Or a book on how to play basketball by Michael Jordan or Marilyn Monroe? Well, thatís about the decision you must make between buying a book on how to be interviewed by me or by any of the other authors writing books on the interview.
Why? Because while Iíve conducted thousands of interviews, both selection and screening, most of the other writers of books on the interview donít claim to have conducted as many as one!
Why? Because Sweaty Palms is replete with tales of personal experiences Iíve had in conducting interviews along with stories by many of my readers recounting their experiences in real live interviews, whereas Iíve not discovered any personal tales in any of the other books. (Maybe because they donít have any personal tales because theyíve never conducted one?)
When I first wrote Sweaty Palms in 1977, it was the first book ever written on the job interview for the interviewee. The reason I wrote it was that at the time one of my activities was a videotape interview service (I invented the videotape interview after getting the idea while attending the Cannes Film Festival in the early 1970s and seeing a display of a newfangled thing called a ďvideo-tape recorderĒ), and the students who were being interviewed often asked me about their interview because I wasnít conducting a selection interview. They viewed me as a knowledgeable, impartial advisor, a person of whom they could ask questions without jeopardizing their chances for a job. Because I was an attorney and running businessesand my videotape interview service was something I did to aid in the recruiting process for both law firms and law students, I didnít have time to counsel them (and had no interest in becoming a full-time advisor) and so looked for a book I could recommend. I was stunned to discover that, although there were many books on the interview aimed at the interviewer, there was nothing for the interviewee.
The result was Sweaty Palms. I wrote it so I could recommend it and get on with the other things that occupied my life. It was an instant success and spawned all the imitators you see out there today. Unfortunately, the authors of the other books apparently canít speak from experience when it comes to the interview. Much of their advice, which sounds nice when you donít know what youíre talking about, is, in practice, dead wrong.
Take thank-you letters, for example. Virtually everyone writing advises writing one after the interview. For my opinion, see pages 378Ė386, an opinion that has been validated by research conducted by a candidate writing a masterís thesis. Take eye contact, for another example. All those other writers say that itís very important to maintain eye contact. For my opinion, see pages 121Ė124, another position that has been validated by research. But I didnít need research or interviews to know what is correct, because I am an interviewer and I know how an interviewer feels when a thank-you letter is received or an interviewee stares you down, and I tell it like it is, not like people with no actual experience think it might be, or should be, or sounds right.
Another thing that continues to set Sweaty Palms apart from all the other imitators is where they get their information. Almost without exception the people they quote are consultants or people who work in the human resources industry. Well, Iím sure theyíre all nice people and that they all do a fine job at what they do. But what they donít do is hire. So this is really the pot quoting the black kettle to prove water runs downhill. They donít have the experience in conducting selection interviews, so their advice is just as ill informed as the writerís!
As I write this Iím looking at a special advertising supplement that appears every Sunday in major newspapers across the country, devoted to careers. Generally what this supplement publishes about the job interview is naÔve, at best. The entire front page today is devoted to the job interview. In total, four different people are quoted giving advice. One is a ďcareer counselor and work coach.Ē Another is a ďcareer counselor.Ē A third is a ďpresentation consultant.Ē The fourth, and last, is a ďcareer and resumťĒ consultant. Not one is a person who actually has to conduct selection interviews! How much is their advice worth? This is consistent with every book Iíve looked at, other than Sweaty Palms. The advice they hand out comes from consultants, not people who actually have to conduct selection interviews.
Who am I? First off, Iím an attorney who practiced law for many years, both as a private attorney and as a member of a corporate law department. Second, Iím a businessman who developed a lot of real estate. In both professions I had to hire many people to work for me. I have conducted a plethora of interviews and made innumerable hiring decisions. Iíve been there. I donít need to ask people to find out what the interview is about. I know. But I did interview some people to get their views, because views vary. The people I interviewed by and large were not consultants or human resources people. No, the people I interviewed were managers and businesspeople and professionals, successful people with whom I had come in contact while practicing law and developing real estate, who had to interview and hire lots of people throughout their careers themselves. They know what theyíre talking about when they discuss hiring people.
But Iíve also conducted thousands of screening interviews, too, as a result of my videotape interview service. So I can speak with personal knowledge of both types of interviews, screening and selection. I can tell you, from the horseís mouth, how interviewers really react, not what might sound good but isnít in real life.
All the imitators out there proudly proclaim that they give you great answers to tough questions, or something like that. Well, I donít. They obviously assume you are an idiot and too stupid to answer a question by yourself. And hereís where weíre at the basis of the difference. The interview is about you. Who are they to tell you how to answer a question about you? What Sweaty Palms will do is prepare you to enter the interview room with the confidence that you can answer any question thrown at you, from your own experience in your own words. Unlike the other authors who insult your intelligence, I think youíre smart enough to do that or you will be after youíve read Sweaty Palms.