While I’m no people manager, I’ve taken part in a couple of job interviews as a backup interviewer. And I have lent a hand to a couple of HR department as an assessment center facilitator. And obviously I had my fair share of being an interviewee. And there was something I could never wrap my head around: all those typical questions that never seemed to lead anywhere.
Because let’s face it, most candidates have never actually given any thought about questions like what your biggest strength is. “Well, I don’t know, right? I’m a black belt at watching Netflix, but I guess that’s not what the interviewer is looking for. Okay, then my biggest strength is… uhm… digital marketing!” Shame on you.
Credit where it’s due, I’ve seen a couple of interviewers too, being clueless about why they should even ask these questions. My favorite one was someone asking a question during a (supposed-to-be) technical interview about my favorite color. Shame on them.
In the upcoming couple of articles I’m giving you a secret weapon, the magnitude of which can only be compared to the Death Star: a checklist that you can use to prepare yourself to any of those dreaded self-assessment interview questions. This is a guarantee: if they still can surprise you, coffee’s on me. Okay, best effort only, and only until supplies – and my free time – lasts. Oh, and you might actually learn a bit more about yourself during the process, which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: most of the companies consider extroverts to be better at communications, which is (A) plain stupid, and (B) you cannot do anything about it. What you can do however, is collecting evidence of being good at exchanging ideas.
- persuaded someone to do something? (Sold something, convinced something to do some work for you, and such)
- written articles, essays, blog posts and stuff like that?
- spoken to a larger audience?
- left instructions for others to follow, like project plans or a manual?
See? The point is being able to articulate that not craving for attention doesn’t mean that you can’t get your ideas across.
Some people underestimate this, but I urge you not to! Teaching someone might be indeed a subset of communication, but it requires a very different approach. Sharing knowledge doesn’t have to be any form of education either, I’d even include innovation: putting your knowledge into practice, so there’d be tangible results.
- made something better, easier, faster, etc.?
- taught someone to do something new – or differently?
- been to professional events outside of your workplace?
Sheltering your knowledge so others could follow you is pointless. It may work as a short-time tactic, but it won’t get you far. Think about this: there’s a guy who works twice as fast as others. And there’s another, who can teach a thousand more to work just a bit more effective. Who do you hire?
Contributing to the success of others
Teaching others matters a lot, but is not enough to succeed. You’ve got to stand in the front line fighting alongside your team. But fighting is not very comfortable, is it?
- been part of a sports team, club or society?
- been part of virtual teams?
- led a team?
By virtual teams, I mean a group of people who are working together for the same goal but are not necessarily in a tightly coupled team. Think about this way: you’ve got a football team, that’s pretty straightforward: it’s a team. A virtual team would be a couple of folks from your team, a guy or gal from the team’s management, and some others from a marketing agency, running fundraiser for charity. See the pattern? They don’t have a formal structure and leadership, making accountability a lot more dependent on the individuals’ level of commitment.
Coming up next…
- Utilizing your network
- Being organized
- Facing the unexpected
- Changing constantly
- Working with passion