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March 21, 2011
Ask the Experts: Charlie Sheen, Interview Guru?
With the Charlie Sheen poetic catastrophe, it got me thinking: How do I not verbally vomit on the shoes of the person interviewing me? How can I be an honest bitchin’ rock star on Mars and not blow the interview with over-the-top effusiveness hedging on crazy? – Mike C.
No matter how refined your interview-speak is, your nerves can get the best of you in that one-on-one, two-on-one, or committee-on-one meeting. Chances are, you’ve found yourself in the middle of a hyperbolic or otherwise nonsensical speech once or twice in your lifetime. On behalf of TalentZoo reader Mike C., we asked the experts how to avoid Sheen’s tendency toward rants, and what wisdom could be gleaned from the actor’s interview stylings. Apart from their warnings against substance abuse, their thoughts on Sheen’s meltdown behavior might surprise you.
Jen Turi, manager at CareerCurve, says:
It’s important when interviewing to be real, but not to overdo it with TMI. Try to answer the question that was asked without elaborate stories or a bunch of irrelevant detail that takes you on a bunch of tangents. Enthusiasm is great, but you should make sure you don’t get so carried away you stop making sense or come across as unprofessional. You aren’t trying to become friends with your interviewer; you are trying to let the interviewer know how you think and what your skills are. Another good rule of thumb is not to do drugs right before your interview. This will be a big help in avoiding nonsense talk.  
Andrew G. Rosen, founder and editor of Jobacle.com, says:
Many people feel like dry heaving during the interview process. We're so hungry to get offered the job that we'll say just about anything (that we think the interviewer wants to hear) to get an offer.

But next time you find yourself in the hot seat for a job, ask yourself: What Would Charlie Sheen Do (WWCSD)?

Don’t show up at the interview with a backpack full of blow a floozie on each arm, but you should take a page out of the Sheen Honesty Playbook. Call him whatever you want, but I don't think anyone can deny that there's something endearing and refreshing about Sheen's unabashed honesty.

When you are on a job interview, being untrue to yourself to land the job will ultimately end in failure for you and the employer. When an interviewer tells you: "This is an entry-level job with great potential for rapid advancement,” rather than answering like a mere mortal, "Not a problem. I'm looking for a new challenge," you should answer like you have Adonis DNA:

"While I'd love a new and exciting challenge, I have over 10 years of experience and a track record of killer results. An entry-level position isn't for me, but if you think I'd be a good fit for the organization, I'd love to talk about other opportunities."

In terms of hands-on pre-interview strategy, if you know you tend to get nervous during an interview:
  • Bring a short sheet of your select accomplishments. Be sure it includes information you didn’t boast about on your resume. Having a piece of paper in hand, as you discuss your righteous accomplishments, will help keep you on track. A short sheet will also give your interviewer direction for further questions. (“I see here that you developed a client retention strategy for your department. Could you tell me more about that?”)
  • Take a pause. It’s okay to take a sip of water or sit in silence for a moment as you gather your thoughts. If you know you have a tendency to ramble, force yourself to pause before every response. Everyone involved knows that an interview is a contrived conversation. The interviewer won’t mind if you need a moment to compose your thoughts in your own mind before spilling them.
  • Breathe deep. On the walk or drive to the interview, in the parking garage, or in the lobby, take deep breaths. Center yourself before entering the interview. Remind yourself you have Adonis DNA—there’s no reason to be nervous.  
What questions do you want to ask the experts? Email them to articles@talentzoo.com.

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Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of career advice blog Jobacle.com. Jobacle has been featured in/on The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Globe & Mail, Nielsen, Reuters, NBC, Gawker, SIRIUS Radio, BBC Radio 4, Yahoo!, and dozens of other major blogs.

Jen Turi is a manager at CareerCurve. CareerCurve is a talent consulting and coaching firm which provides workforce solutions in the areas of talent optimization, leadership development, performance enhancement, and career transition coaching.
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