Think about the most engaging conversations you’ve ever had.  What were they like?  Informative?  Illuminating? Funny? Did you come away feeling like you had connected solidly with another person? Did you feel changed in some small or large way?

That’s how job interviews are supposed to be.  At least according to Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the life-changing career search book What Color is Your Parachute. And he expands on the interview process in What Color is Your Parachute: Guide to Rethinking Interviews. A slim spinoff to the master volume, Rethinking Interviews does something similar to what its companion guide, Rethinking Resumes, does: reconsiders a component of the job search process, in this case the job interview, as something slightly different from how it is traditionally viewed. In Rethinking Interviews, the job interview becomes something other than a sometimes intimidating question-and-answer session with a person who will help decide whether or not to hire you for a job. It becomes a conversation.

By recasting the interview as a conversation, Bolles sets aside any conventional advice that is common in books about interviewing. To be sure, you still are advised to dress well, research the company, and still never, ever discuss salary during the initial interview (and he helps you with strategies on how to do that), but you are also to treat the interview like a genuine conversation: ask questions, tell stories, ask for stories (“Tell me about the most exciting product you offer,” “Tell me something about the people I’ll be working with.”). Bolles also provides strategies on how to handle telephone interviews, interviews with groups, and even interviews with online tools such as Skype.

By far, however, the most valuable sections of the book are the appendices: overcoming handicaps (not necessarily physical ones – age can be one, or length of time spent unemployed) and, of course, the secrets of salary negotiation. Anyone, from the greenest greenhorn college graduate to the most experienced executive, should read both sections and put them into action during their next interview.

Rethinking the job interview as a conversation can put you in control and reduce the intimidation. And when that happens, your strengths and confidence come through.

And you stand a good chance of landing that job.

NOTE:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.