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How To Get A Job - And the Presidential Debates ...

Finding and keeping a job requires more than just having a great resume - once you land an interview, you need to prove to the person on the other side of the table that you are likable and will work well on their team.

by Pete Ferguson

Last night America had the opportunity to interview the top two candidates for one of the most important jobs in the country.

Each has a stellar resume from their party's perspective and each has a massive team who supports and prepared them with facts, figures, stories, and responses for many potential questions.

With all of the resources and the stakes at an all time high - however - in a traditional interview they both would have failed to land the job in my opinion.

To illustrate my point, the first question from Jeremy - "What can you do to assure me I will have a job when I graduate from college?" was not answered, it was lectured to.

What would have been really cool is for either of the candidates to have followed up with additional questions like: "Jeremy, what area of study are you planning to graduate in? What are you doing today to build your resume?" What if Jeremy is studying "general education?" I'm not sure many political policies would help tremendously.

I realize the debate "rules" likely did not allow for follow up questions (kind of counter intuitive to a "town hall" in my opinion). But then a lot of rules were not followed last night.

Breaking this one would have really set one candidate apart and made them a lot more "likable."

Millions of dollars have being spent on focus groups and surveys to gauge which candidate is most likable. Millions more spent on media advertisements to try and prove that one or the other is more or less likable. They both had a chance last night to be likable - and neither rose to the task in my opinion. Instead they both tried to prove the other was less likable.

Too bad.

Just as the point of a job interview is to win over the undecided interviewer, last night's point was to win over the people in the room who figuratively represent the undecided voters in the upcoming election.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein

When the competition is this close, either one of the candidates should have tried to do the exact opposite of what they have always done.

Instead of talk to speaking points - they should have actually talked to the people asking them questions.

All the talk of transparency and "I understand your pain" is very quickly lost in words when the actions do not follow.


If you are currently in the job market, I hope you do not ever try to repeat last night's performance. Instead I hope you listen carefully to the question, ask follow up questions, and then answer to the best of your knowledge and experience.

Be creative. Be engaging. Be likable. Be honest about whether or not you are the right fit.

I'm not aiming for a political debate.

I just thought it ironic that political affiliations and all emotional ties set aside, the conversation in its most simplistic form was a job interview. And there are many lessons to learn from observing both candidates.

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Comment by Ann Musico on October 17, 2012 at 7:22am

Great points and I agree with your assessment.  Wonderful tips for those looking for jobs now - too bad the candidates didn't consult you!

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