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Career Strategies: The 5 Deadly Phrases To Avoid In The Job Interview Process

When it comes to the job interview process, whoever tells the best story wins. But certain phrases and ideas can short-circuit your career plans. Are you really able to have the kind of leadership conversation your job search deserves? When it comes to creating the career conversation that leads to consideration, avoid these five show-stoppers in the interview.

If you argue for your limitations, they are yours.

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  1. When Is Honesty NOT the Best Policy? – do you ever find yourself saying a version of this phrase: “If I’m being honest…”? TBH, that phrase is honestly hurting your chances in the interview process. Here’s why: if I need to call out the fact that I’m being honest right now, doesn’t it make you wonder if I’ve been honest with you up until this point? Why did I wait until now to get real and spill the T? Actually, in the interview, honesty is the only policy that works. Highlighting the fact that you are getting to the truth, but only just right now, can arouse suspicion and make people wonder why you aren’t full-on honest all the time. If you are a person of integrity, honesty is your default setting. Don’t create unnecessary suspicion. “To be honest…” is a filler phrase – like “umm” “Uh…” and “like”. None of those fillers are very satisfying in the job interview. So be really honest with yourself, and leave out the words that don’t serve you.
  2. The Fault Line – don’t cross it. “It was her fault” is the kind of blamestorming that can take you out of the running. Why? Because companies hire people who can overcome limiting circumstances. People are imperfect, nobody has a team of 100% superstars and circumstances often create difficulties in the office (that’s why it’s called work). How did you get past the obstacles and limitations – even if one of those obstacles was Jessica in Accounting? Phrases that blame people and situations point out your own limitations – what you couldn’t tolerate, tackle or transform. Focus on the story of how you overcame challenges, how you helped others to be better, or how you picked up the ball when somebody else dropped it. Remember, other people don’t need to be bad in order for you to be good. Concentrate on how you solve real problems – including personnel problems – by taking responsibility instead of laying blame.
  3. What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You – do you know how to answer an interview question where the answer is, “I don’t know” or “No, I don’t have that skill”? The fact is, no one can know everything. And not everything can be googled. Saying “I don’t know” isn’t a phrase that can NEVER hurt you – because it’s an honest and real response! The phrase that’s really dangerous? Trying to fake it until you make it! Don’t create a fiction around your skill set, ever. Any phrase that feels like fiction is one you’ve got to avoid.
  4. Disconnection is Deadly – Considering questions about skills or experiences you don’t have: are you able to connect your interviewer to a relatable topic – something that you do know, that might be supportive or helpful? For example, if the CIO says, “Do you have Salesforce Administrator Certification?” and you don’t, what do you do? Do you just say, “Nope!” blink twice and wait for your next mistake? Find a phrase that pays by connecting to what you do have: skills, talents and desire for the role! Point out the other experience or to action you can take to get what’s needed. “I don’t have the Admin certification but I went to Dreamforce [the company’s major annual conference] the last two years in a row. I’m very familiar with the software – let me share with you the experience I have and my training so far. If that certification is important, I can put together a plan to gain that credential in short order. Do you think that plan would be a requirement if I were to get this role?” Always connect your answers back to your interviewer, the company’s goals and your ability to work hard in the job – those things are always part of your story.
  5. Ultimatums – an ultimatum is a statement of what you won’t tolerate, usually phrased as a demand. Ultimatums reflect terms that you will or won’t accept, period. By definition, ultimatums point to your lack of flexibility and adaptability (two characteristics that might be useful for a new hire, wouldn’t you agree? Why would you demonstrate that you lack these two key qualities?) Now some ultimatums are important: “I won’t tolerate racism on my team”, for example, points to your beliefs and values. But “I won’t work on weekends” or “I need every Thursday afternoon off, or I can’t work here” is really pointing out your limitations. Look for phrases like “I can’t accept _______”, “I won’t allow that” or “That just won’t work for me.” Because if it won’t work for you, maybe you won’t work for this company. Every job interview is a negotiation. Once you get to “yes” you can decide if you want to take the job or not. You’re in the interview to explore your options – why start cutting yourself off from possibilities? Does it help your career to present demands and requirements, or are there other ways of looking at the situation? Is your ultimatum a personal preference that you’re clinging to, like a security blanket, or a statement of your integrity, values and work ethic? It’s better to keep your options open if you really want the job. Know the difference between uncompromising values and limiting statements that knock you out of the running. Keep your options open. Find out what’s really on offer and make a business decision to see if it fits for you. Ultimately, what you will and won’t accept is your decision, but arriving at that place without ultimatums is a smart way to frame the conversation.

The best interview is the most authentic, where you speak from your heart about the solution you can provide. By creating a dialogue with your interviewer, you build the conversation that matters most in your career. Don’t short-circuit your skills with ultimatums, filler phrases or fear of the unknown. The interview process is a journey of discovery. Your story – and the way you tell it – will guide you towards your next destination.

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I write about the changing nature of the leadership conversation, and how communication creates the connections that matter. Recognized as the U.S. National Elevator Pit…

Source: Career Strategies: The 5 Deadly Phrases To Avoid In The Job Interview Process

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“Tell me about a difficult situation or challenge you faced in a workplace” By asking this question, employers are trying to see how you (A) take charge in handling a challenging situation, or (B) collaborate with your coworkers as a team to solve a conflict. They want to know if you have critical thinking and problem solving skill, how you approach the problem and the level of responsibility you take in challenging situations. It is very important to make sure that you use an example that demonstrates your ability to handle difficult situation. So do not mention about when you elevated the responsibility. Rather, talk about times when you stepped up and took a leadership position by collaborating with your coworkers. In order to construct effective story, use PAR model and follow the 3 steps. 1 Problem: Identify the problem. What was the issue? 2 Action: How did you and your coworkers analyzed the problem and took actions to solve the issue? 3 Result: What was the positive outcome in result of the action? By following PAR model, you can frame your story well. Watch the video to see example answer and start constructing your answer. Jobspeaker is a FREE service to help job seekers find better jobs. Login today!

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These 9 Creative Interview Questions Evoke Crucial Insights About Any Job Applicant. (Ask Them Before You Make an Offer You’ll Regret)

Recently, I wrote about some of the best interview questions that Inc.com has featured over the years. And, I asked readers who had other suggestions to let me know about them.

Wow, did you ever deliver. Today, we’ll begin sharing some of the replies, starting with nine of the more unusual interview questions — creative ideas that elicit insights, while being offbeat enough that applicants probably won’t show up for job interviews with stock answers.

Feel free to use these questions as they are. But, perhaps even better, use them as jumping off point to come up with your own creative questions.

1.    “If you could kick one state out of the United States, which one would you pick and why?”

For pure curiosity’s sake, you might be interested to know if an applicant really thinks we’d be better off without North Dakota or Alabama. But the point of course is to how the applicant thinks, and sometimes even what he or she believes.

“I’ve heard applicants respond with fiscal perspectives, instinctual perspectives, experiential perspectives, and sometimes even downright nasty perspectives,” said Taylor Kerby, founder of Something Great Marketing, who suggested this question. “In the end it can let you know if the candidate would be a good fit for the role, and sometimes more importantly, a good fit for your company’s culture.”

2.    “A screwdriver and a screw together cost $2.20. The screwdriver costs $2 more than the screw. How much does the screw cost?”

Oddball question, sure. It seems like it should be easy. But most people will come to a quick and incorrect answer: 20 cents.

The correct answer is actually 10 cents, and Mark Anderson, CEO of Complete Express Foods, LLC said he’ll explain the math behind it. (If you’re having trouble with that math, here’s an explanation.)

“This question has … everything to do with listening, reading, and whether the new hire will challenge basic facts and directions,” Anderson explained. “Those that still argue [after it’s been explained], you immediately end the interview and wish them success at another company.”

3.    “What do you do if the Internet goes out at the office?”

I’m betting the preferred answer here is not something like, “Just call it quits for the day.”

Of course, you’re trying to figure out if the applicant can solve problems, go past a job description, and even bring lessons learned elsewhere to the office.

And, says Corri Smith, owner of a consulting and events firm in Charlotte, N.C. called Black Wednesday, the question “has truly tripped people up. One time a girl sat for a whole minute and then said, ‘I don’t know. I just don’t know. I don’t have an answer.’ It really shows the capacity to … create a solution and can also demonstrate how interested they are in getting their work done.”

4.    “If you were a box of cereal, what cereal would you be and why?” (Alternative: “What’s your favorite board game?”)

These are two bizarre questions, and you’re probably not all that interested in the ultimate answers. What you care about instead is the thought process and attitude.

“While this is an extremely weird question to ask, it’s a great way to get a more personal view of the potential candidate,” said Lewis Thomas, owner of Host Sorter, who suggested the cereal box question. “It also doubles as an icebreaker.”

“It’s a rather whimsical and unexpected question, and shows me how quickly they can think on their feet,” said Michael Pearce, a recruiter at Addison Group, who suggested the board game idea.

5.    “Do you like to win or hate to lose?”

Okay, I guess I’m about to ruin this question, at least if you’re interviewing at HR tech company Paycor, because Todd Rimer, senior manager in talent acquisition there, tells me there actually is a right answer in his mind.

“Those that like to win, you can’t fault them. Who doesn’t like to win? When you win, you are on top,” Rimer suggested. “But, when you hate to lose, you are more inclined to learn from mistakes, learn from past experiences and use these experiences in the future, whether it’s your next project or your next sale.”

6.    “What do you suck at?”

This question isn’t all that different from the time-worn, “What’s your greatest weakness?” However, I think it’s more direct — and less expected.

“It allows me to understand where they see their shortcomings, but also gives me insights into where they want to avoid [spending] their time,” said Peter Sullivan, founder and CEO of Jackpocket. “If that’s in conflict with where we need attention, I learn a lot.”

7.     “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?”

I think this is the opposite of the question above: It’s a way to get an unguarded insight into a classic question.

“Instead of hitting your candidates with the same old, ‘What are your strengths?’ question,” says Darren Bounds, CEO of Breezy HR, “this is a more organic way to uncover their strengths.”

8.    “Tell me about a a project you worked on that failed? What did you learn?”

Failure is probably the last thing that most job applicants want to dwell on seriously, and with good reason.

But pushing in this direction, with a broad, open-ended question like this, tells you a lot more than the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, says Matt Erickson, managing director at National Positions.

You’re trying to find out things like, “Is this candidate driven? How do they communicate with teams?” Erickson explained. “Do they take responsibility? Can they learn and adapt, etc.?”

9.    Tell us about a time when you’ve had to deal with rejection.

I’m including this question here because it’s similar, but not quite the same, as the question about failure. It’s especially interesting when you’re interviewing people for a sales related role.

“Recruitment is a predominantly sales-based environment,” said Ian Clark, head of Americas at recruiting firm Mason Frank International, “so being able to handle rejection is essential to a candidate’s success in the role. … What I’m looking for is a candidate to demonstrate their resilience in this situation, and provide evidence of their drive and tenacity to bounce back.”

By: Bill Murphy Jr.

 

Source: These 9 Creative Interview Questions Evoke Crucial Insights About Any Job Applicant. (Ask Them Before You Make an Offer You’ll Regret)

 

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