What if Seinfeld had been a show about job search?


Here's a hypothetical plot.

The Upstart

Kramer wouldn’t make much headway in a buttoned-down corporate workplace, but he’s gotten word of a startup, a freewheeling place with plans to disrupt some existing field.

Kramer knows this isn’t a traditional firm and that the rules are quite relaxed. Taking his cue from this, he arrives for his interview barefoot and dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt with a subtle hammer-and-sickle design.

A better approach: Dress codes for work can be difficult to decipher these days. The traditional suit, for men and women, is not always the best option, although it continues to be the one and only choice for tradition-bound fields like banking and law. Other industries are different, and companies within those industries are different.

Do what you can to find out what people are actually wearing to work at the company you’re visiting. If that’s not possible, dress a little more formally than what you’re expecting to find, and consider a layered outfit that gives you some flexibility on the big day. You can always add or subtract a tie or a sweater if you find that your approach is far off-track.

The Stories

At that same interview, Kramer is asked to talk about a time when he had to deal with a difficult colleague. He devotes the entire interview to a litany of slights and injuries in which one “great” idea after another was sabotaged by people he thought he could trust. In no case was a conflict happily resolved.

When asked how he’d handled things then and how he’d handle conflicts in the future, his only answer is “lawsuits.” At the close of the interview, he promises to see his interviewer in court if he’s not hired, claiming that only his belief in the traditions of Festivus could account for such a decision. This was, of course, the first mention of Festivus in the interview.

A better approach: Kramer managed to make it abundantly clear that, when it came to difficult colleagues, he was the problem and not the solution. Behavioral questions, the kind that ask you to describe a workplace situation from your past or to respond to a situation that’s purely hypothetical, are very popular, and you have to be prepared for them.

Don’t go into an interview without familiarizing yourself with the kinds of behavioral questions interviewers tend to ask. Think about potential answers, and arm yourself with a structure for those answers. The “STAR” system is one place to start. It organizes your answer by situation, task, action and results, giving you a strategy that makes for coherent answers.


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