10 Books To Read Before Your Next Job Interview 

Job interviews are among the most stressful and anxiety-producing moments in life. Whatever level your career, the fact is you’re submitting yourself to the judgment of strangers for whom you must distill the essence of your skills and experience into a series of bite-sized answers. Everyone knows the fear that you’ll miss out on a great opportunity just because you flubbed one question, or because your handshake was too sweaty, or because the interviewer decided to ask how many hot dogs get eaten every day in the world.

To avoid disaster and regret, Preparation is key. If you’ve got time to read, before your interview, you’ve got time to acquire the skills and develop strategies that will ensure that even if you don’t get the job, it won’t be because you screwed up the interview. Here are 10 books that will make you the darling of hiring managers everywhere.

Interview-Specific

Presence, by Amy Cuddy
While most of us focus on studying up on the company we are interviewing for so we can answer every question and amaze with our experience and intelligence, there’s a whole other aspect that’s all about how you present yourself—your posture, your clothing, your presence. Harvard professor Cuddy gave a TED Talk about this very subject, then distilled it into this book, which will give you insight into how you can harness your energy and physicality in order to be confident and present in the moment. Although not specific to interviews, there’s little doubt Cuddy’s ideas won’t lead to a better impression in the room.

Cracking the Code to a Successful Interview, by Evan Pellett
Go straight to the source, and find out recruiters and hiring managers are thinking, and what they’re looking for from you. Pellet puts together a clear, eight-step process by which you can take control of the interview, allowing you to steer the conversation instead of rushing to keep up. At their core, all interviewers are looking for the same information and processing the same decisions, after all, Pellet helps you see through the superficial differences to the fundamental process underneath.

The Art of the Interview, by James Storey
From the basic questions (what is your worst quality?) to the esoteric (how would you design a spice rack for the blind?), interview questions can throw you off your game if you’re not prepared for them—and sometimes, that’s the whole point. The secret to handling any unexpected question is in the preparation—and reading Storey’s book is a great way to start. Covering all kinds of questions, Storey offers ideal responses and explains his thinking as to why they are the right ones. The book is also packed with sample questions, so you can practice your polished responses as well as challenge yourself to answer unexpected queries.

Smart Answers to Tricky Interview Questions, by Rob Yeung
Although also focused on tricky interview questions, Yeung’s book includes other scenarios to prepare for, as seen from an insider’s perspective—his work involves writing interview questions for recruiters. He offers guidance on how to instantly build rapport with interviewers and how to handle a wide variety of unexpected situations, including those tricky questions that seem designed to make you panic (and maybe they are). Yeung’s all-business approach is refreshingly focused, and offers a lot of return on your investment if you’re pressed for time before the big day.

Mastering the Fundamentals

How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes
An interview is, at its core, a meeting between people, and the simple fact is, some of us are naturals at being charming and relaxed when interacting with strangers, and some of us are… not. Lowndes offers a guide to being relaxed and in control of every situation, and leveraging that comfort into developing commanding conversational skills that will serve you well in a wide variety of situations—including even the most intimidating interviews. Lowndes covers everything from massaging egos to reading rooms, skills that will make it easier to perfect your presentation in just about any interview, allowing you to bring your knowledge and experience to the fore.

What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard N. Bolles
This is the classic resource for job searchers, updated for the modern age and as valuable as ever. It covers every aspect of finding a new gig, from writing your resume to networking effectively, to, yes, the interview itself. While focusing in on the interview makes sense when you’ve gotten that far with your dream job, you have to actually get there first, so this holistic resource will not just prepare you to wow them in person, it will guide you to identifying the right job in the first place, and making sure you get that crucial first call.

Business Writing Today, by Natalie C. Canavor
After the interview comes the thank-you emails and follow-up communication—which is actually part of the interview process. You might have impressed them in the room, but if your follow-ups are poorly-written and laden with typos and grammatical errors, none of it will matter. Canavor offers not a general writing guide, but a specific one, focused on business writing. Reading it before your interview will prepare you to craft professional-sounding emails that will be the capper to a great interview performance. And once you have your dream job, this book will also help you keep up that sheen of competence in every memo you compose going forward.

Outliers

Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell
You might wonder how George Orwell’s memoir about living in poverty in the beginning of the century can help you with your interview. The answer is: perspective. Orwell, young and dumb in the ways of young people everywhere, was robbed by a woman of low reputation while, er, spending time with her, and invented a story on the spot to spare his parents the shock. Broke, he was forced to get a job washing dishes to survive, but that job led him to his first major publication credit. The moral? Your job search might take you in unexpected directions, but sometimes, the journey is the point, not the destination.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
Just about every CEO wants to be Steve Jobs, and every executive wants to be CEO, meaning the business world is littered with folks who think they think different. Chances are good you’re going to encounter at least one Jobs acolyte who thinks management is all about willing things into reality, so you’d do well to understand the mindset before you wander into that interview. Plus, it serves as a good reminder that even Steve Jobs got fired and wandered the professional wilderness—so don’t sweat the interview too much. If it doesn’t work out, there will be another one.

Grant, by Ron Chernow
What can the biography of one of America’s great military leaders tell you about your upcoming interview? Well, Grant spent the first 40 years of his life more or less continuously failing: he lost jobs, lived in near-poverty, and by the time of the Civil War, was a broken, sad-sack of a man—a professional and financial failure. And then: he rose to be the supreme commander of the United States military, and was then elected president, proving that no matter how many interviews you bomb, you’re not done until you give up. Take a breath, read more books, get some sleep, and send out another stack of resumes.

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