How you can clinch your dream job in 2015

James Reed surveyed hundreds of employers for his new book.
James Reed surveyed hundreds of employers for his new book.
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Recruitment supremo james reed tells Grant Woodward how to get ahead.

IT’S nearly a new year – and for many that means the start of the hunt for a new job. And who better to guide you through the process than James Reed? After all, as chairman of the Reed employment agency, it’s his business to find the right people for millions of jobs.

But while it might be relatively easy to find your dream job, convincing your would-be employers that you’re the best man for it can often be far more of a challenge.

The biggest hurdle for many is the interview and knowing what questions to expect and, more importantly, the answers that will secure you the position.

It’s why James spoke to some of the top interviewers in Reed’s recruitment network to get the lowdown on how to answer the most common questions and adopt a winning mindset that will help you to succeed on the day.

And he’s put them all together in his new book, Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again.

“The message of this book is that people want to have a genuine conversation, so the best thing you can do is to be yourself,” says James. “But that takes thought and practice.

“The simplest mistake people make is that they spend more time thinking about what they’re going to buy than their interview. They just don’t prepare properly for it.

“But it’s so easy now with the web, you can research the company and even the people you’re going to be interviewed by through sites such as Linkedin.

“The way we approached the book was to ask our clients ‘What’s your favourite interview question?’ We got hundreds back and they’re the questions that are being asked by real interviewers right now.

“One of the most common ones is ‘Tell me about yourself’. People can go off in all sorts of different directions on that one. They can talk about their home life and all sorts of things that aren’t at the front of the interviewer’s mind.

“Essentially, this question is the one that tells the interviewer the most about how confident you are and how well you have prepared for the interview.”

They say that to be forewarned is to be forearmed, so the book also includes many less obvious questions that might be fired at you.

“One of the meaner questions in the book is ‘Where does your boss think you are now?’” says James. “Another tricky one is ‘Have you ever been fired?’”
Helpfully, the book doesn’t just list these questions but reveals what interviewers are really asking and suggest how you might answer them.

For instance, an interviewer who asks how many traffic lights there are in London is trying to find out how you think through tough problems.

A good answer would be to say that you could estimate how many traffic lights there are in a square mile and then multiply that by the total size of the capital.
Similarly, a question such as ‘What did you like and dislike about your last job?’ is really asking ‘What do you want from us that the last lot couldn’t give you? Can we give it to you?’

As well as breaking down often daunting questions and suggesting how you should answer them, the book also provides an insight into the types of interview you may encounter and how you should respond to them in order to portray yourself in the best light.

There are also tips on getting the basics right – such as your appearance and approaching the interview with confidence.

The good news is that all the signs point to plenty of jobs being up for grabs in the early part of next year.

“We’re expecting well over a million applications on our website in the first week of January,” says James.

And if you’re on the hunt for a new job, his book may just give you an edge.

Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again by James Reed is published on January 1.


The classic ‘tell me about yourself’ question is a tricky one that needs to be rehearsed, says James.

“The human brain can only do one task at a time, but this question tries to make it do two: working out what to say and what not to say.

“Rehearse your own structure and impose it without asking, as if your individual approach to answering open questions is the most natural thing in the world. Make the content 90 per cent professional and 10 per cent personal. It’s a business meeting, not a date.”