Book can help you avoid interview horror stories

Do you remember your worst job interview? Or if you’re someone who does the hiring, I bet you’ve got some interesting stories to tell about job interviews gone bad.

Job applicants can look fabulous on paper, but often it’s the face-to-face interview that can lead to a “you’re hired.”

In this tight job economy, knowing how to interview is so important.

To help you hone your interviewing skills (or get some) I’m recommending “Monster Careers: Interviewing” (Penguin Books, $15) by Jeff Taylor and Doug Hardy for this month’s Color of Money Book Club selection. Taylor founded, one of the leading online career Web sites. Hardy is a job and career coach and general manager and editor of Monster Careers, the company’s publishing arm.

Michelle Singletary’s Book Club

The December pick is “Monster Careers: Interviewing” by Jeff Taylor and Doug Hardy.

To become a club member, all you have to do is read the book. For a chance to win a copy, send an e-mail to Please include your name and an address.

If you are interested in discussing this month’s book selection, join Singletary online at at 10 a.m. PST on Dec. 15.

No doubt even the most seasoned interviewee can learn something from this book. But I think it would be particularly helpful for young people starting out in their career life, especially college seniors graduating next spring. This book will get them thinking on mastering the art of job interviewing. And there is an art to it.

“Job interviews can be a dance of mutual frustration,” Taylor and Hardy write. “You muster a big effort and then wonder why you didn’t make a great impression. The interviewer wonders how to get a clear picture of you … in less than an hour.”

There is a frankness about this book that made it stand out for me. It has the usual tips and interview strategies, but there are also lots of personal stories from applicants and the people who conduct interviews. The book opens with a guy trying to get a job as an office manager. The interview isn’t going well, so he tries something simple to salvage his chances of getting the job. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what he did.)

There are two features in the book that I just loved: “What Were They Thinking?” – tales of terrible interviews – and “My Best Advice” – human resources professionals passing along interviewing tips. Honestly, I skipped ahead in the book just to read all the entries under these two categories. There could have been more.

Here are my favorite two from “What Were They Thinking?”:

* From a customer: “One time during the interviewing process, I had to tell a candidate that unfortunately we would not be able to offer him a job because, even if he qualified for the position, his drug test came back positive. … After thinking for a few minutes, he looked up at me and said, ‘Can you tell me which one showed up on the test results?’ “

* From an anonymous human resources director: “Some career changers just haven’t thought very hard about making a case. I interviewed a gentleman for a television field technician position. His background did not reflect any type of experience in electronics or televisions. I asked him if he had ever taken off the back of a TV and actually seen the inside.

His response was this: ‘Are you kidding? It’s dangerous back there.’

Needless to say, he did not get the position.”

“Monster Careers” is a comprehensive guide to help you get through just about any type of job interview. There are simple exercises. There is an amazing index of answers to more than 500 job-interview questions. Not that the questions are there so that you can memorize the answers. Instead, they should be used to help you prepare for an interview.

Job interviews don’t have to be like a police interrogation, the authors say. “Anybody can give a strong interview performance … anybody,” Taylor and Hardy contend. “If you know what the person on the other side of the desk really wants – and why – you can transform your nervous energy into confident enthusiasm.”

If you are interested in discussing this month’s book selection, join me online at at 10 a.m. PST Dec. 15 .

Taylor will be my guest and will take your questions.

To become a member of the Color of Money Book Club, all you have to do is read the recommended book. Once I select a book, then we chat online with the author or authors. In addition, every month I randomly select readers to receive a copy of the book, which is donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of “Monster Careers: Interviewing,” send an e-mail to Please include your name and an address so we can send you a book if you win.

For this month, I also thought it might be fun and helpful to pass along your “what were they thinking?” stories. If you’re someone who interviews job candidates, please dish. Tell me what works, what doesn’t and the applicant interview you will never forget. As a job seeker, tell me about your worst interview. Send your comments to In the subject line, put “What were they thinking?”

I’ll be using the stories for an upcoming column, so please include your name and city.

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