Interviewing Preparation Requires Critical Thinking: 5 books to read before any job interview

I have a few different Goodreads shelves and one is titled “Thinking” where I collect the best books on all things – critical thinking, learning, and decision making.

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One of the biggest competitive advantages you can leverage in your career or business is the ability to think critically and make better, faster decisions. If there is one thing I want to focus my time and energy on and go ‘all in on’ it’s making better decisions.

If you can get even 2% better at decision making you will drastically increase your results. I try to focus my energy on hacking learning to find the strategies and techniques that work for me.

When faced with a job interview you will also need to be able to think critically in the moment to show a prospective boss how you would approach a problem. If you want to get better at interviewing, then you’ll want to focus your time at getting better at thinking critically.

The 5 best books on critical thinking to prepare you for a job interview:

1)      “How To Read A Book” by Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren

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Adler & Van Doren penned the classic text on how to read a book. Touted as “the best and most successful guide to reading comprehension for the general reader” - this one is a keeper. The most important part of the book is the detailed approach to reading different types of material which requires different reading techniques like skimming, inspectional reading and extraction. The book reinforces the notion that you can’t approach reading in the same way with every book because one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to learning. The same is true for interviewing, you must make sure you are customizing your language and how you approach an interview based on the unique needs of the company you are interviewing with.

2)      “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli

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“Art of Thinking Clearly” is a quintessential read for anyone with important decisions to make which means it’s applicable to everyone on planet earth. I loved the section where Dobelli explores the question “Have you ever invested time in something that, with hindsight, just wasn’t worth it?” We all have wasted time on Instagram and Facebook, but what about the weeks, months, and years wasted in a job that wasn’t right for us or at a company that didn’t align with our values. Dobelli’s techniques will help you pull yourself out of the rat race. For a companion book on this topic, check out Essentialism.

3)      “Mindshift” by Barbara Oakley

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Oakley’s book does a deep dive into how you can change your approach to learning and bring about surprising results in academics and in your career. She delves into the neuroscience of how the brain changes when you learn different skills. If you want to go deeper into the neuroscience, Cal Newport’s Deep Work is a great comparison book to show you what happens to your synapses when they are fired. The last few chapters focuses specifically on MOOC’s – how to study and learn for a completely digital courses. I have yet to see any other author getting this detailed on how to approach learning in the digital age. It’s no wonder Oakley’s MOOC Learning How To Learn is one of the most popular MOOC’s of all time – that’s a lot of MOOC’s for one sentence.

4) “Learn Better” by Ulrich Boser

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Boser had me at his job title which is “education researcher” what’s cooler than that? The geek (and former teacher) in me is profoundly jealous he gets to put that on his resume. Learn Better spends more time than the rest of the books showing us that how we learn is just as important as what we learn. When interviewing for your next dream job, you must first spend a lot of time learning about the company to make sure it’s a good fit for what you are looking for. Boser guides you through ways to learn better and you can apply them to interviewing.

1)      “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke

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Interviewing for a job is all about making decisions when you don’t have all the facts and when there is a lot of uncertainty. You don’t know if you’ll like your boss or coworkers and you don’t understand what the company culture looks like. Duke provides the reader with tools that you can use to approach decision making in a way that allows you to be less reactive and ultimately have more success over the long run. We can all stand to be less reactive in accepting job offers at companies that don’t align with our core values.

Have you read any of these picks? Let me know by leaving a comment below.