Book by: Richard N. Bolles
Review by: Stephanie Soto
College of Education Advising Center
Florida International University
Life after college can be frightening for many college students. What Color is Your Parachute: Guide to Rethinking Interviews by Richard N. Bolles is a quick and easy read designed to help job-seekers with the overwhelming task of interviewing. Though written for the general public, this book can be used as a resource for career planning with college students. This book provides a comprehensive summary of the interview process from start to finish.
Author Richard N. Bolles discusses the three most important things to know about an interview in a very brief and concise manner. The first important thing is that an interview is essentially just a conversation. No matter the style of interview, the interview is a two-way conversation designed to find out if an interviewer likes a job-seeker and vice versa. Instead of listing examples of interview questions, the author boils them down to five essential questions covering information employers are really trying to uncover and what job-hunters should be inquiring about; Bolles’ second important thing. His third important thing about interviewing is each company has different wants and needs for their new employee and rejection is just part of the game. A job-seeker cannot generalize all employers from their few experiences interviewing, so they should keep searching until they find the right fit.
The book reiterated the message to not let rejection cause defeat, as each employer has different wants and needs. This was a unique message that resonates with many recent graduates. It lays out the expectation that it will take time to find a job and persistence pays off. Not many other career guidance books address this concern. Another strong point was the discussion of pre-interview preparations. A lot of students do not know how to prepare for the interview. It is imperative to take the time to research the organization, position, interviewer(s), and salary ranges. The author gives some great strategies on where to find this information.
The author addresses handicaps, which can take many forms: physical disabilities, lack of education or experience, looks, gender, ethnicity, etc. One thing that would have been beneficial to include would be how or whether to address these handicaps, as well as the interview questions a job-seeker should not be asked. This book provided a great breakdown of expected interview questions, but does not fulfill its promise to prepare the reader to formulate answers for each. There are many different methods that breakdown how a job-seeker should answer an interview questions, such as the STAR method (response technique for behavioral questions). Though the author did give a breakdown of the most common question, “Tell Me About Yourself”, it would have been interesting to see how the author would recommend formulating a response to the five central questions he mentions at the beginning of the book.
Most college students are unprepared for the job search and interviews can seem unbearably intimidating. What Color is Your Parachute: Guide to Rethinking Interviews would be great to use to facilitate conversation with students about career and life planning. Academic advisors can discuss common expectations with students prior to the job search process. Advisors can encourage that students conduct research in order to explore different careers and discover which position type could be the best fit. This book provides great strategies on how to do that pre-interview research, and can also be used to design a workshop for students on campus, or as a discussion guide for a first year course. Presenters can also pull out information such as how to dress, salary negotiation, and questions to ask the employer, to prepare students for after graduation. As more and more students come into advising looking for career guidance, this is a great resource for advisors to share.
What Color is Your Parachute: Guide to Rethinking Interviews. (2014). Book by Richard N. Bolles. Review by Stephanie Soto. Emeryville, CA: Ten Speed Press. 112pp., $12.99, (Paperback), ISBN 978-1-60774-659-1