This article includes an interview with Richard Blazevich, recruiter for a Fortune 100 company and author of the new book Amazing Interview Answers.
Tell us about your book?
Amazing Interview Answers is a guide to help people be amazing in job interviews. It’s full of questions that recruiters typically ask along with examples of winning answers to those questions. It also provides insider tips for what you should and shouldn’t say during job interviews.
What inspired you to write the book?
I’ve interviewed hundreds of job candidates over the years, and most of them didn’t have the skills needed to succeed in interviews. It breaks my heart to see people who could be very good employees but don’t know how to communicate effectively during interviews.
To help those candidates, I started looking for interview books, but I couldn’t find a single one with clear, practical advice. All the books I found were either too vague or too complicated. When I told my wife about my frustrations, she suggested I write a book myself. I brushed it off, but she kept pushing the idea. She was right. Sometimes, when you can’t find a good resource, you need to create one yourself.
Since most people learn by example, I wrote my book to include samples of great interview answers. Those answers are designed to inspire people to create their own amazing answers based on their personal experiences. That way, they can dazzle recruiters during interviews and get offers for the jobs they want.
How did you come up with the concepts and ideas found in Amazing Interview Answers?
When I was in business school, I had access to some outstanding career resources. At the University of Michigan, our career development office was amazing. They offered workshops and one-on-one tutoring, which I took advantage of while I was in school. Most of my interview skills came from those sessions.
While there, I also formed an interview group with my fellow students. We met every week to practice our skills. It was extremely helpful to have other people who could critique my answers and give me tips for improving them.
As the recruiting leader for a large company’s marketing department, I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates for a wide variety of jobs. Some of them have been incredibly impressive. In my book, I’ve included the best answers I’ve heard from candidates over the years.
I’ve also led interviewing workshops at some of the top business schools in the United States. Many of the tips in my book come from the research I did to prepare for those workshops.
What are your tips for interviewing?
Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. People can dramatically improve their odds of getting job offers with a little interview practice.
Since most recruiters ask the same questions, it’s easy to know what to prepare for. You can expect to hear “tell me about yourself” and “tell me your greatest strength.” In my book, I give readers a few simple frameworks for answering those types of questions. For example, I explain how to use a framework called P-E-N to answer questions like “walk me through your resume.” That framework gives you an easy way to explain your passions, your experiences, and what you want to do next in your career.
My book also includes other tools including the S-T-A-R and the 30-60-90-Day frameworks which can be used to answer a wide variety of questions. I tell candidates to come up with four or five answers using those frameworks. With the tips in my book, it should only take a few hours to do that and be ready for most interviews.
What do you hope readers will learn from your book?
I hope readers will learn how easy it is to get ready for interviews. For example, it’s easy to get a job description from an employer, and it’s easy to customize your interview answers to fit that job description. In my book, I explain that getting a job description is like getting the answers to a test before you take it. Everything an recruiter wants to hear is in that job description. You just have to read it and think about your relevant experiences before going into the interview.
Do you plan any follow ups or similar books?
Yes, I’m currently writing a playbook that college students can use to prepare for job interviews. It includes step-by-step instructions for researching companies, polishing resumes, and practicing for interviews. It should be published in the spring of 2018. After I complete that book, I plan to write books for people looking for jobs in specific career fields.
Who made significant contributions to the book?
My wife, Nathalie, made the biggest contributions to my book. She was a great sounding board and offered encouragement throughout the writing process. I also used crowdsourcing sites including Fiverr and Freelancer.com to find amazing editors for the book and graphic artists for the cover design. I also used a crowdsourcing site to find the narrator for the audio version of the book.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Writing a book has been an aspiration of mine since college. I didn’t act on it earlier because I felt I lacked the expertise to write anything useful. As I was acquiring experience in my career, I was too busy learning to spend time capturing my thoughts in writing. Now, I feel I have the experience to write a book that’s worth reading.
What do you like to do when not writing?
I enjoy public speaking. Over the years, I’ve been a featured speaker at marketing conferences and corporate events. My favorite speaking engagements are when I lead interviewing workshops. Part of my motivation for writing this book is my hope that it will open opportunities for me to do more speaking engagements in the future.
Where can readers find your book?
Readers can get my book at www.amazon.com/dp/1547261382. It’s available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats. I recommend the paperback version since it includes worksheets for people to write their own answers to interview questions. The Kindle and audiobook versions are also good, but my favorite is paperback.
About the author:
Richard Blazevich has led the campus recruiting for the marketing department of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division. Over the years, he has interviewed hundreds of candidates for a wide variety of roles. He has also developed and led interview training workshops for students at some of the top business schools in the United States.
Richard is an executive with 20 years of marketing experience. He received an MBA with an emphasis in marketing and business strategy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in business from Montana State University.