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How To Ace a Job Interview: 7 Research-Backed Tips


There are several insights here worth noting… Enough of them that I decided to share this…  I hope you find it helpful.  If you do, please let me know!  And as always, thanks for reading!


Originally posted on TIME:

1) Be Similar to The Interviewer

“Be yourself” can actually be a problem.

If you want to know how to ace a job interview it’s important to note that study after study shows the key to being liked and being more influential is similarity.

Research shows you can take advantage of this by researching the interviewer and coming across as similar to them:

After carefully transcribing and analyzing her interviews and field notes from observations in the firm, Rivera determined that, by the time a candidate had made it through the relevant resume screenings and landed an interview, her evaluation was not necessarily based on “maximizing skill—finding the person who was absolutely best at the soft or the hard dimensions of the job,” as Rivera puts it. Rather, the most common mechanism by which a candidate was evaluated was her similarity to her interviewer.

No lies are necessary. Think…

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Four Job Qualifications You Don’t REALLY Need

Four Job Qualifications You Don’t REALLY  Need

Looking for work is spiritually and emotionally challenging on a number of levels, and there is no end to the number of articles and blog posts that have been generated on the subject.

What Should I Do

One of the more insidious aspects of the whole thing is the incredible amount of conflicting advice one finds on virtually every aspect of the process.
Yesterday’s wisdom quickly becomes today’s folly and vice-versa.

oracle 8 ball

So, with that firmly in mind, the link above will take you to a blog post at BusinessWorkForce.com, written roughly 14 months prior to today’s date.
I like the logic of the writer, Melissa Kennedy, who takes a common sense approach to the claims that have become part of the Job Search techno-babble.

Executive Decision Maker

Ironically, the article itself is quite brief.  The number of comments that follow it are less so and eclipse the length of the article that spawned them by several orders of magnitude.  In many ways, the comments are more revealing and informative than the original piece.

keep calm and make up your mind blue

All best wishes,



Letter I Will Never Send to a Woman I Barely Know on LinkedIn


Hi, (Name Withheld),

Congrats on the “new gig” in the field of employer branding!  I sincerely hope you’re doing every bit as well as your profile appears to indicate. My family and I grow more accustomed to our new home with every passing day.

I must confess to a sense of embarrassment: having connected with you more than a year ago, I have done very little to build upon that foundation since.  Shame on me.

In my own defense, I have been just a little busy working to support my relocated family.  Internet access is occasionally a challenge to acquire: devices with internet capability can be expensive to acquire and maintain, and occasionally one comes home just plain dog-tired.  I give you props that you can live in such an environment that you are widely regarded as “the most connected woman on LinkedIn.”

Linkedin_Logo spelled out

Personally, I think I might be willing to settle for something more like, oh say, “the 472nd most-connected person on LinkedIn.”  Don’t get it twisted: I can be competitive, but I can also be pragmatic!

But that’s not why you called.  As for employer branding, I think I may have a potential client candidate for you, but I also have one or two questions first…

When an employer is branded, is it painful?  You designate your own location as southern California and environs, where many Western traditions are cherished, so I wonder whether the irons you use are brought to a state of glowing readiness in a traditional campfire.  I hope so, because the employer I’m thinking of deserves all the traditional touches.

Cowboys Prepare to Brand Cattle

BTW, this employer does NOT appear on my LinkedIn profile.  I’ve worked with these folks over the space of three months in the Commercial Cleaning services (what most people would call “Janitorial,”) field.  It’s certainly honest work and I think I do it pretty well, but the whole experience is inconsistent with the expert professional orientation I wish to adopt on LinkedIn.

I’m sure you have no idea what I mean by that.  Almost nobody will consider hiring a writer if he’s spent significant amounts of his time recently working with a mop and bucket overnights at a local tourist landmark, so my current experience reflects writing skills in keeping with my desired white collar professional goals.  You know: dress for the job you want, not for the job you have…

Handshake Graphic

But back to this particular employer: As I would have you know, they’re not bad people, in most cases, they’re actually very good people, but the primary management is ethically  challenged beyond compare and the contamination has spread downwards.  We need to stop the madness before it can go any further.

And then LinkedIn brought my attention to your “work anniversary,” and I got to thinking about your avowed skill set.

As a result, whenever I see the corporate NewSpeak phrase “Employer Branding,” my instinct is to visualize something much more literally sadistic than I’m sure you mean.

Glowing Branding Irons

Of course, I will never actually send you this message.  It is far too crass and reflects poorly on me.  Mocking someone who has accomplished as much as you have is unseemly and my attempt at humor comes across as bitter and unsympathetic.

And then there’s the little matter of the light in which I have presented my former employer, so this epistle has been sanitized to the point of near anonymity.

But at the same time I hope you do realize that the world you appear to inhabit is not real.

Sofia the First

The vast majority of people you may encounter on LinkedIn live in a much less rarified or exalted environment where concepts such as “Employer Branding” and “Candidate Experience and Engagement” are pretty much so much double talk.

Like your humble correspondent, they are simply trying to live, to earn, and to survive.  Once you have learned to speak to them, then we’ll talk.


In the meantime, thank you for inspiring this little essay.

As sincerely as it gets,


Geese Flying to Sunset

Tell Mother the Geese Are Flying

It only took a decade, but now I’m on Twitter.  I created my account just a few days ago and I still don’t believe I’ve done it.  When the now-famous social networking platform was launched, I must admit I doubted its utility and was skeptical of its future.  That was almost 10 years ago.

How times have changed!

Nowadays, if you’re going to meet people, find a job, communicate with your nearest and dearest, or just network your way across that other social media platform we like to call “Life,” you had better tweet if you know what’s good for you.

twitter bird holds follow me sign

A Twitter account is coming to embrace the commonality of those other staples of individual validity: the Social Security number and the Driver’s License.

By the time I reached college, having an SS # was not even an option.  If you wanted to find your posted test scores, if you wanted to carry a Student ID card, whatever it was, your SS # was the handle by which your file would be fished out of the primordial ocean you shared with the rest of the student body.

As of this writing, the Driver’s License is still the primary form of identification most people carry.  Even non-drivers either acquire one or its officially-sanctioned substitute, the state-issued photo ID Card.

I’ve even encountered Amish folk who carry such cards, although theirs lack the photos, in deference to the Amish rejection of photographic technology on the grounds that such pictures violate the Second Commandment (that’s the one that prohibits the worship of any “graven image.”)

One of the reasons I have withheld myself from the Twitterverse for so long is a deeply-rooted conviction that I have very little to say that would be of any real interest to anyone.  At least nothing that can be adequately expressed in 140 characters or less.  I tend to get long-winded when I write: that’s why I blog.

So I reached out to one of my social network contacts and asked her what I should tweet..

Her advice was perfectly sensible:  I should tweet about anything, anything at all, but most realistically I should tweet about subjects that I know and love.  In other words, whatever I want is fair game.

twitter logo

And, apparently, so am I.

You see, there exists no shortage of people and corporations who desire nothing more than my undivided attention in order to promote themselves, their products and agendas via tweets.  Most people are aware that pop music stars tweet all the time.  Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga are merely the most widely known of these folks promoting their brands by this most automatic and seemingly-intimate medium.

Almost every major business corporation tweets to loyal and prospective customers regularly.  McDonalds, Nike, Holiday Inn and all major film studio and broadcast networks employ a virtual battalion of people whose job it is to always keep their employers names and products front and center before the likely customer’s eyes.

The Audience Is Watching

So here I am.

But all is not sweetness and light in the land of Twitter.

All sorts of folks will be able to read what I write: friends, family, co-workers and potential employers, just to name a few.

This means my tweets could be used against me at some future date.

The mass media are rife with stories about people whose tweets have come back to haunt them, even after the offending passage in question has been deleted.  Just ask the NSA or anybody else who may conduct a sufficiently thorough background check.

Gee, nobody mentioned that to me, at least not in so many words of 140 characters or less.

So please feel free to view, follow, re-tweet or what-have-you, just please remember: if anything I’ve written offends you, I stoutly maintain I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Unless, of course, you like it, in which case I do.

Geese Flying Above Clouds

You are welcome to follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JayPochapin

Additional Links Associated with this Author:

Boys in the Boat cover

Book Review: The Boys in the Boat

(Daniel James Brown, Viking, 404 pages including Index, $28.95)

A most absorbing and enjoyable read, this book fairly glides along, much like the eight man rowing crew that is at the center of this narrative.

Washington Crew

Brown takes these relative unknowns and through their life histories weaves a story that transports the reader not only into their heads but into a whole other world, time, place, universe and sensibility.

Alternating the scene between Seattle and Berlin, the author takes historical fact and distills it into anecdotal essence, then blends those essences into a potent and heady mixture that makes you know what the Depression actually felt like, how it transformed so many lives and wrought so much change, some of it for the better and some of it for the worse.

36 Olympics poster

As Brown’s narrative wends its way towards the inevitable conclusion we know is coming, one cannot shake the sensation that one is privy to a glimpse into the most intimate view of world events.  This book is nothing less than exactly that remarkable.

Nazis at Olympics

Recommended for ages 16 and up.  Four and a half stars (out of a possible five.)
A truly GOOD idea for gift-giving this holiday season!

Shakespeare's Star Wars Cover

Book Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Or…  Verily, A New Hope

(174 pages, Quirk Books, with illustrations by Nicolas Delort, $14.95)

Okay, so here’s the deal:  You know the original “Star Wars” movie.  And you almost certainly know at least a little Shakespeare, even if only a snippet or two from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” or “MacBeth”…

Now imagine the franchise-inspiring Science Fiction screenplay as if it had come from the pen of the Bard of Stratford…

You got it.

Shakespeare with Storm Troopers

To say that Ian Doescher’s idea is inspired is an understatement of gargantuan proportions; it’s nothing less than brilliant.

Translating the original screenplay into iambic pentameter must have been a labor of love as well as a labor of Herculean proportions.  The effect, however, proves to be more than worth the effort.

And the beauty of it is, the vast majority of readers will easily be able to follow the action given the almost compulsive familiarity Star Wars’ fans have with the original material.

Fans of the Bard will be equally entertained as the text of the “play” contains more than a few snippets gleaned from almost every last one of Shakespeare’s known plays.

Skywalker as Hamlet

The book also proves itself as an introduction to Shakespeare for children and those adults who may have been intimidated by the academic “snob appeal” so many Shakespeare fans exude.

Doescher makes Shakespeare accessible to anyone who’s ever seen any of the six existing Star Wars films.  This book is an inspired way to introduce younger readers to the Bard of Stratford (not to mention the Bard of Marin County, California (that would be Mr. Lucas…))

 Try explaining who Falstaff was to a 12-year-old and the end result will likely be a glazed stare and a stifled yawn.  But compare him to Jabba the Hut and see the reaction you get…

Jabba as Falstaff

Filmaker George Lucas read Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and realized he was tapping into the mother lode of characters and scenaria (“senarioes?”) that seem to flow through every culture and its oral and written traditions.

Vader Strangles Pilot

While William Shakespeare lacked access to Campbell’s findings, he certainly knew a good story when he found one and, not surprisingly, his most famous characters fill the requirements of these archtypes like a hand in a custom-made glove.

Vader Mourns Death Star

Oh yeah, we WAY recommend this one!… for anyone aged 12 and up!  Four and three-quarters (out of a possible five) stars.

veterans-day silhouette

Reflections Prompted by Veterans’ Day

As the Veterans’ Day holiday recedes into the past, I am reminded of how my views on military veterans have changed — and just how dramatically — all within the past six months.

veterans day eagle

This blog is still relatively new and (like most blogs) a work in progress.

One of my very first posts was a short contemplation on the Memorial Day weekend late this past spring.  (http://jaypochapin.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/a-few-thoughts-on-memorial-day/)  I still stand by what I wrote, but my perspective has absolutely undergone some change.

You see, I now work among veterans, probably to a greater degree than I ever have previously.  And I now see with greater clarity than ever before what happens when the flower of the country’s youth are sent to wage war in a foreign land.

Back in the day, in MY day, when I was personally concerned about such things, “the war” was Vietnam.  Like its predecessor in Korea, it was never a formally declared war, but inasmuch as people were conscientiously objecting to it, being drafted to serve against their will and frequently becoming injured or killed as a result of their involvement, it qualified as a legitimate war in every way that I could see.


I was, like most of my contemporaries, opposed to the war both politically and personally.  That means I didn’t think the United States had any business being over there in the first place and I absolutely did NOT wish to go and fight in Southeast Asia.

Nevertheless, I registered for the draft.  My lottery number was 155, which placed me pretty squarely in the middle of the pack.  I might go, I might not.

As it turns out, I didn’t go.  The draft, for whatever reason, figured the war effort could get along just fine without my participation and I believe they were pretty much right on this point.

Frankly, I don’t know how well I would have done.  I was never much of a fighter, let alone the kind of person who thrived in the unquestioning obedience environment and literal-minded worldview the military lifestyle demands.

And then there was that whole death thing.  As the late John Candy said in one of his films (I believe it was as the character “Barf” in the Mel Brooks movie “Spaceballs,”) “It’s just not me…”

Even if I had survived Vietnam in the sense of keeping my life, what kind of person would have returned to America?  I always suspected that exposure to the kind of conditions I would likely encounter would have a deeply disturbing and traumatic effect on my psychological well-being.  It was years before I could bring myself to sit through a simple screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film about The Vietnam War, “Apocalypse Now.”


The legend is that Coppola himself suffered some real psychological trauma simply directing the film, which was shot largely on location in the Philipines, nowhere near the film’s actual setting.

But I digress…

The point I wish to make here is that I never dodged the draft nor my obligation to my country, I simply was never called up to serve and I didn’t volunteer because I didn’t want to.

I’m not ashamed to say it: I was scared.


And now I’m working side-by-side with people who, for whatever reason, made a different choice than I did.  I stand in awe of most of them.  Not only because they made the choice they did, but also because they have come back to a society that pays lip service to their sacrifice and precious little else more.

I believe I can say without contradiction that not a single one of the recent veterans I have met has escaped without some form of physical or psychological trauma as a result of their service.  In many cases, both forms of trauma are present.  Nobody talks about this.

horrors of war

It is part of the cost of any military engagement and it must be addressed.  As the waging of war becomes more automated and detached, more impersonal and emotionally and physically distant, the effects on the soldier’s mind become more subtle even as they become more profound.

When death and injury come in an instant, in a blazing flash or a concussive wave of destruction, when the enemy turns out to be a man, woman or child you thought you could trust right up to the moment that you discover – violently – you cannot, that changes how you interpret every aspect of your reality.

Nobody talks about this.

We say “Welcome Home!” and a couple of times a year we have a parade, some fireworks, we distribute free cups of coffee, maybe a discount on doughnuts or movie tickets and then we go back to our non-military peacetime domestic lives.

These Veterans need so much more and, instead, they get so much less.

These are young men and women who left everything they knew, submitted themselves to a hostile environment in which to train and prepare and then travelled to the far side of the planet to find themselves in an ultimately hostile environment that literally defies imagination or description.

Assuming they survive this environment, both physical and psychological, they are ultimately decanted back into this non-military peacetime domestic environment we call America, where our greatest concern is whether Miley Cyrus is on her way to a psychotic break and whether anyone really cares that Jay-Z’s most recent work is truly his best effort and  isn’t it a shame what happened to Justin Timberlake, etc., etc., etc…


So to every Veteran I know (and even the ones I do not,) I say, “Thank You!  I can never know what happenned or how you survived.  I can never know what horrors you have seen, heard, felt, been forced to endure and absorb.  I may never have a clear understanding and I may never want to.  But I know you served.  I know you did your best to give everything your country required of you.  I don’t care about politics right now, I just care about people.  You count.  You counted then and you still count now.  You will always count.  And as hard as it may be to believe in a God after everything you’ve been forced to endure and absorb, I say, ‘God bless you!’


Book Review: “Still Foolin’ ‘Em” by Billy Crystal

Still Foolin Em Cover

More than just an autobiography, Billy Crystal’s new book is part memoir, part stand-up comedy, part revelation and part sentimental philosophy.

A comic, actor, author, producer, director and general all-around A-List Nice Guy, Crystal has produced a tome that is laced with great humor and sympathetic insight.

It’s a quick read and Crystal keeps his anecdotes light, tight and bright, dipping only occasionally into the kind of bathos that would trap a writer of less talent.  That he dips more than a toe into the schmaltzy kind of sentimentality that sometimes surfaces is forgivable and such self-indulgence is excusable when the majority of the book is so immensely readable and entertaining.

crystal mike wasowski

This reviewer concurs with the dust jacket blurb that “Still Foolin’ ‘Em” is “laugh-out-loud funny” and the book had exactly that effect on yours truly, who is normally not brought to hysterics even by the most talented writers.  Crystal’s wit, had he been born a generation or so earlier, would have propelled him to stardom via the Borscht Belt circuit that gave the world such talents as Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis.

A product of the Baby Boomer generation, Crystal came of age first on the Comedy Club Circuit and then on Television.


As it is, the book is replete with stories about iconic heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, broadcaster Bob Costas, New York Yankees luminary Mickey Mantle, fellow comic Robin Williams and many more.

As a person of faith, the only disappointment I found was Crystal’s apparent lack of any formal faith at all.  Raised in the Jewish tradition (as opposed to the faith,) he questions many things in Life that a firmly-rooted faith in God would likely answer, or at the very least, mitigate to some degree.  That he apparently lacks that faith, in spite of the success and celebrity with which he has been blessed, is the only sad facet this reviewer can find in what is otherwise an eminently recommendable book.

city-slickers-Curly-Jack-Palance-Billy-Crystal billy-crystal-sophia-loren

The anecdotes surrounding Jack Palance, Sophia Loren, Johnny Carson, Mohammed Ali and Mickey Mantle are enough to justify reading this book all by themselves.  It’s Crystal’s unique intuitive wit that puts this effort over the top.

Muhammad Ali and Billy CrystalMickey Mantle

Ideal as an addition to any library and a predictably popular item as the holiday gift-giving season draws near, “Still Foolen’ ‘Em” will surely be “Still Entertainin’ ‘Em” for the foreseeable future.

Recommended (four-and-a-half out of five possible stars.)