Avoid A Common Interview Mistake

You shine at your job. Now it’s time for you to move to the next stage and you’re interviewing. The new position is the next logical extension of your past job, so you’re confident in your chances to get an offer. You interview well – after all, you’re confident and accomplished.

But the interview didn’t feel like it went as well as you hoped. What went wrong?

One misconception that can cause interview problems is that your record of accomplishments alone is enough during an interview. Employers are more interested in what you will be able to do for them than what you’ve already done for someone else. The two are related, but not the same. For example, you’ve gotten spectacular results in your previous organization, which is how you got the interview in the first place. Though the past is important, interviews are also about looking into the future. What can you do for the new organization? How will you get along with others there? What will it be like to work with you? What skills and knowledge will you bring to the table? How will you use them in the new organization? How you communicate these messages is just as, or may be even more important, than what you say.

This interview thought trap may manifest as an assumption that the strategies and approaches that worked in one company will automatically translate to a new organization: The “it worked at company A, it’ll work at company B” philosophy. Just as your cover letter is unlikely to get you an interview by just changing the name, your interview should also be tailored to the organization and the interviewers, right?

Over-relying on past strategies during an interview may make you look like a one-trick pony. A more successful approach would be to spend some time thinking about the new organization and whether your previous strategies make sense in the new environment. If so, explain why you think that strategy will work in this organization. If not, what would you do instead? What’s similar and different between the organizations? How would those differences impact your approach?

This approach works especially well when you’ve done your homework in advance. Read about the company. Talk to others who have worked in or with the company. Ask questions during the interview. Use that information in your discussion and answers to show that you’re interested in the company, you’re taking their needs into account, and that you’re paying attention and integrating what you’ve learned into your strategy. Directly address their needs; build upon their strengths. In other words, be open to the reality of the new organization when formulating or supplying your answers.

In the end, if you can’t imagine yourself in a new environment, then they’re unlikely to imagine it either. Paint a positive picture of your potential new role for yourself and them, and you may just find yourself living that reality.

Meaning at Work

Getting surprised while doing a training session never seems like a good thing. When I train, I like to anticipate what the range of reactions will be so that I am prepared to handle them.

However, on Friday I was leading a session on job crafting – an exercise that helps you edit your job to be more satisfying, fulfilling, and productive – when I got a surprise reaction from this group of 50 or so female leaders.

In hindsight, maybe it’s related to the fact that I had just strayed from the traditional exercise.   Duh.

We had just finished identifying their strengths, passions, values and job tasks. Then I asked them to consider their personal mission and the purpose of their work.   Then to my surprise – everyone burst out laughing. Not in a that-was-really-funny-Susanna way, but in an are-you-kidding-me? kind of way.

I then explained to them that finding and building meaning at work can enhance worker satisfaction and motivation. Think about it: if all your life you wanted to be a teacher, and you have a job teaching people how to sell a video game that you believe to be bad for children, likely you will not enjoy your job. Once I explained this concept, they thankfully seemed to settle into the exercise without that element of incredulity.

But why the initial reaction? Is the notion of meaning and purpose at work so out of reach, at least upon initial reaction, for some people? Do most of us really just go to our job for a paycheck and little else?

Research on callings tell us that approximately 1/3 of the adult population considers their job simply a means to a paycheck. These participants self-selected for this seminar, so perhaps they are disproportionately represented in this category as opposed to the 1/3 of the population who are pursuing their calling through their work.

Are you in that means-to-paycheck group? Can you draw a connection between what you do at work each day and your life’s mission (what you long to contribute to humanity)? If so, perhaps you feel relatively good about how you spend most of your day. If not, why not? Maybe your answer will surprise you.

Webucator’s Most Marketable Job Skill Campaign – Emotional Intelligence

No, emotional intelligence (EQ) is not a line item on your resume.  But EQ impacts all of your interpersonal interactions (and their impact on you) as well as how you interview and promote yourself to others.  Employers may not be looking for emotional intelligence directly in your resume or letters of reference, but your ability to manage yourself and get along with others will nevertheless come across loud and clear.

For example,  if you can’t work well with others, it may show as a lack of productivity since so much of what we do requires teamwork and cooperation.  The tone of letters of reference will also reflect whether you are emotionally intelligent, since if you cannot manage yourself or others, that deficiency is likely to come across specifically or in the tone of the letter.  Lack of EQ will especially come across loud and clear in the job application and interview stage.  Those with good EQ will seem the type others wish to work with and the interview is likely to go smoothly.  They will demonstrate that they respond effectively and appropriately across various situations in school, at work and during the application and interview stages.  A good EQ is also required of good managers and leaders.

That’s not to say that those who lack emotional intelligence are doomed to a lifetime of unemployment.   But if I’m lacking EQ then my talent and productivity will have to be considerably higher to make up the deficit.  The level of EQ required also will vary depending on the position and the person doing the hiring.  And a high EQ is no substitute for actual competency or hard work.  However, the ability to know and manage emotions is a basic life skill that provides the baseline for success in our personal and professional lives.

Not high on EQ?  Don’t worry – unlike IQ, EQ can be learned and developed.   It takes some introspection and some work, but it can be changed.  If you are already high in EQ, then good for you! Keep growing your EQ skills, they can only serve you well.

Note:  Some websites such as Webucator offers free training to improve your technical skills that you can use to supplement the array of soft and technical skills that you can use to market yourself to future employers.


Changing A Difficult Person

We have all had times in our lives where we are confronted on a regular basis with a difficult person who is making our lives miserable.   Perhaps you are doing so right now.  The situation is especially trying if that person is unavoidable and/or impacts our future.   Maybe you feel trapped and can’t escape that person without unacceptable consequences.  If so, here are some suggestions for how to deal with that person.

–          Consider their scared inner child – First, let’s give this person the benefit of the doubt and assume they are not evil.  If you cannot do that, then skip the list and go straight to the conclusion.  Next, know that most obnoxious behavior is the result of fear or insecurity.  They fear being invisible, not good enough, not lovable, not worthy, unimportant, and so forth.  Imagine them as a scared child with these feelings and try to find your compassion and empathy for that scared child within.  You likely have some of the same kind of fears, so while you’re at it, be gentle, compassionate and loving with your inner child.

–          Projection – Have you ever heard the saying that the thing that bothers you most about someone else is the trait you hate in yourself?  Hate that control freak because they won’t allow you to control your own environment?  Hate the vain person because they look better than you?  Hate the competitive person because they’re always trying to get one step ahead of you?  It sounds obvious when I state the concept in this manner, but take a step back and listen to your complaints about others and ask yourself how that is true in you.  Which brings us to….

–          Hypocrisy –   Don’t feel bad.  We are ALL hypocrites.  It’s hard wired in us.  Read more about it here.

–          Examine your behavior – Consider the following:  how are you likely to treat someone if you view them as a problem?  Like you trust them, communicate proactively with them, inquire about and wish for their well-being, ask their advice, share the credit, say positive things about them when they’re not there?  Yeah.  Right.  The very belief that they are a problem means that you are likely being a problem for them too.  “Well they started it” works on the playground, but you’re an adult. It’s your choice as to whether to perpetuate or fix this problem.  After all, it’s your future and serenity that’s on the table, not theirs.  Right?

If you do all of the above, then you will have changed the problem person.

How do I know that?  Because the problem person is you.

Hear me out before you close this window out.

I’m not saying the other person has no fault or responsibility.  Au contraire.  Rather, I’m saying that you each have 50% fault and responsibility (approximately) in this situation but you have 100% control over your own thoughts and actions.  You can’t change him, but you can remove yourself from the equation as a problem in a real way, and invite him to do the same.

What do you have to lose?  You have only peace of mind, serenity, and possibly a new ally to gain.