The Way We Work
March 30, 2011 by Guest Blogger

By: Minhaj Hussain

Interviews can be bewildering. You don't know what you'll be asked. You're nervous about making the cut, and if you don't get the job, you can stress out wondering why. Online interviews can actually be even more bewildering. Not only do you have all of these issues but the additional problem of (likely) interviewing with someone from a completely different culture. In most cases, this all-important interviewer can't even see you (or can only see you through the broken and depthless frames of a webcam.)

As an interviewee, it's therefore important to make the extra effort to connect and communicate in online interviews. Believe it or not, you can overcome some of the issues at hand with the aid of your own television! Yes, you're not just wasting time or being a couch potato, you’re doing something important by watching your favorite shows: making yourself more employable!

No matter what your show-of-choice, here's a guide to how your favorite television shows can help you become a better interview:

Crime Dramas

Crime dramas are all about deduction and investigation. To land a good job, you need to have the same detective skills and instincts. Why is the potential employer interested in hiring for this job? What is his real motive? How can I fit into this motive? Only when you understand your potential employer’s perspective can you tailor yourself to fit into his world. Shows like Crime Scene Investigation (or more commonly CSI) can help you hone those Sherlock Holmes-like skills.

How does this help you land a job? Elementary, my dear Watson, the key is the motive! And our potential employer will always leave a trail of evidence--in their job posting, in any messages they send prior to the interview… so keep your eyes open for the clues that will land you the job!

Talk Shows

If you've read anything about how to connect with people, you may already know that finding commonality is important in building communication bridges. This doesn't necessarily mean finding common issues that you specifically discuss. It can often simply be indirect references you make or personality traits and mannerisms you exhibit. Small nuances can often be learned from -- you guessed it -- television.

Talk show hosts often exhibit communication traits that are highly appreciated. At the elementary level, for instance, who wouldn’t hire Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show? (Well, maybe Sarah Palin wouldn't.) Nevertheless, the point still stands: most talk show hosts exhibit traits that are valued by employers. Certainly, Jon Stewart, in his 40s, can still speak college lingo. Oprah Winfrey, never a housewife, can still keep housewives glued to her show for hours on end. Watch how they connect with their audience to see how you might do the same with potential employers.

tv lessons threeInterviews on the News

Another source of wisdom may be news show interviews, especially those where politicians (or others who are well-versed in the art of communication) are the subjects. They typically come prepared with a message, which is a great interview tactic. You can also learn how to smoothly slide past or even deflect questions that may not be to your advantage.  Sometimes even the very worst news can be transformed magically into a positive, as  this "news" spoof from The Onion proves. Now, you don't want to sound slippery, but some smoothness in your delivery will highlight your social competence and communication skills. Remember, not only do employers need such skills, they may be vital in dealing with workplace politics that plague all workers.

Job Search Reality Television

Perhaps the most direct way to get interview tips from television is to watch reality televisions related to the job search sub-genre. There is now a wide variety of such shows in multiple fields, from The Apprentice (which judges business skills and lands the winner in a high-paid executive position) to America’s Next Model. Dream Job (for sportscasters), On the Lot (for filmmakers) and America’s Most Smartest Model are more among a long list of other such television shows.

tv lessons twoBy selecting your shows and perspective, the "idiot box" can become your very own employment and interview coach. A word of caution though: If "you are what you eat," it may as well also be that "you are what you watch." While some shows may help you get better at finding work, some other shows may function equally in the opposite direction. So, choose your TV coaches wisely!

Learned any career-making skills from one of your favorite shows lately? Let us know in the comments below!