When Uco Jillert Wiersma decided to write a book on how to approach a job interview, he realized that this topic was not exactly unchartered territory.
“There are many books on that topic,” he acknowledged. “If you look at Amazon, there are over 400.”
So, what makes Wiersma’s book stand out from the 400-plus books already on the market? “This is the only one in the world that is evidence-based,” he explained. “So, it’s not my personal opinion of how to prepare.”
Wiersma, who holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology, first applied evidence-based human resources management principles while working for the computer automation subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange. He later taught human resource management at universities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and published articles on the topics in leading scientific and educational journals. But in creating his self-published book “Interview Charisma: Evidence-Based Strategies to Help You Win the Job You Deserve,” which culled more than 100 journal research articles for its findings, Wiersma recognized that research on selection interviewing was mostly unknown to those who would benefit the most from its data: the job seekers.
“Job applicants have very little access to evidence-based information,” said Wiersma, a Norwalk resident who has retired from academia. “There is a lot of bad information on the internet that is all gimmicky.”
Wiersma explained there are two types of job interviews: the unstructured interview where the candidate receives mostly broad and generic questions and the structured interview where specific core competencies are stressed. And if most job interviews are unsuccessful, Wiersma added, it may not be the fault of the rejected candidate.
“Research shows that the unstructured interview is what 95 percent of people experience,” he said. “Research also shows that it doesn’t work. What the research shows does work is the structured interview, where you know exactly what the requirements of the job are and you use that to drive the interview. So instead of being asked, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ you would be asked, if this was for a tech job, ‘In the next 45 minutes, I am going to ask you questions about your ability to code, to test the code, to debug and to interact with users.’”
Still, that is not to say that the basic considerations of making a good impression cannot be eschewed. Posture, body language, and the handshake are factored into the process, along with research regarding how candidates are judged on vocal pitch and speech rate.
The book also highlights a major stumbling block for most candidates: the lack of standardization in job interviews. In a chapter that explains how a candidate can understand the interviewer, Wiersma wrote, “Interviewers have many styles. That’s why job candidates often feel they can’t prepare for an interview. It feels as if success depends on the luck of the draw. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what type of interview you will get.”
To counteract that sense of confusion, Wiersma breaks down the interview process into four stages: the initial meet and greet with its first impressions; the brief but important rapport-building phase between the candidate and the person conducting the interview; the formal interview where the candidate goes into the sales mode to highlight his or her best attributes; and the opportunity for the candidate to ask questions about the company.
Wiersma added that these stages do not exist as separate movements that remain discrete; they interact with each other to create an enhanced result. “If you do all four stages well, you really will exhibit charisma in the interview,” he said.
In crafting “Interview Charisma,” Wiersma hoped to provide candidates with a preview of what they can expect, along with advice on how to address the quirks and problems that may arise in the interview. “My philosophy is to know your strong points and know the requirements of the job and bring that together,” he said, offering an analogy of an architect who arrives at a homebuilder’s office without a blueprint for construction. “If the interviewer does not have the blueprint for the interview, you can bring the blueprint.”
However, the author also noted that while his book was designed to create a better understanding of the interview process, it should not be viewed as a magic key to job-hunting success. “Unlike other books, the book does not help people finesse,” he said. “You have to be qualified.”