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.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

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!

If You Understand How You Fit, You’re Five Times More Likely To Be Inspired At Work

Few work experiences are as demoralizing as not knowing how your work fits into your company’s larger strategy or goals. It’s hard to thrive when the day-to-day feels meaningless, and I’ve got the data to prove it.

My firm recently conducted a study of 13,771 employees and asked them whether their bosses have explained how their work fits into the department or organization’s strategy or goals. As you can see, a paltry 21% of bosses are “always” connecting their employees’ work to some larger strategy or goal.

But there’s an even bigger twist: We also discovered that people whose bosses “always” tie their work to a larger strategy are nearly five times more likely to be inspired at work than those whose bosses “never” does.

While it might be momentarily satisfying to blame all the bosses for not doing a better job at connecting employees’ work to something bigger, the truth is that individual employees also have some responsibility.

In this same study, we asked people to rate the statement: “When I get an assignment, I find out how it fits into our organization’s strategy and goals.” And here again, we found that a minuscule 18% are “always” taking the extra step to find out for themselves how their work fits into their organizations’ goals.

But as you might expect, the people who do take that extra step are 5.7 times more likely to be inspired at work than those who “never” do.

If we want to enjoy and succeed at our jobs, the implication of this study seems obvious—we’ve got to proactively learn how our work fits into our organizations’ strategies and goals. This is accomplished with a four-part conversation, which, when done right, can also teach your boss how to share this information in the future without being asked.

But a word of caution before I give you the script: This conversation cannot feel like an attack on, or an end-run around, your boss. If your boss suspects that you’re looking for ways to usurp or chastise them for poor leadership, they’re likely to respond defensively (or worse).

There’s also a chance that your boss may not always know how your work ties into a larger strategy (your boss may actually feel in-the-dark about his or her own work). So always approach this conversation with caring, genuine curiosity and the mindset that you may not get every question answered.

Here’s the four-part script for talking to your boss about how your work connects to the organization’s (or department’s) larger strategy or goals.

Step 1: Find an agreeable time to have deep conversation by asking your boss, “Would you be willing to have a conversation with me about this new assignment? I find it really interesting and I’d love to learn more.”

It’s always a good idea to start the conversation by asking permission (i.e. “would you be willing”). Your boss will be instantly disarmed because you’ve made it clear that you’re approaching the conversation as an opportunity to learn, not to accuse. Additionally, the phrase “I find it really interesting” alleviates a common and understandable fear among bosses that employees only want face-time in order to gripe about something.

Step 2: Having opened the conversation, now say, “I appreciate you taking the time to give me your advice and thoughts on this project because I’d love to learn more about it and I really want to knock it out-of-the-park. So the first thing I’m curious about is whether there was some kind of strategic initiative or goal that sparked the need for this project?”

It’s important to reinforce your genuine interest and curiosity in the project before you ask about the impetus for the project. Don’t skip this step unless you have a sufficiently deep relationship with your boss that allows you to approach this conversation more forcefully. In general, it’s better to err on the side of tact and caution in these conversations.

Step 3: Ask, “Is there anything you’d like me to know about how this will get used (or incorporated into a larger project or initiative)?”

You don’t want to come right out and demand to know what the boss really intends to do with your work on this project. While there are certainly bosses who will appropriate employee work as their own, it’s awfully accusatory for a conversation like this. Instead, give them the choice to share or not share. This actually increases the odds that they will share, telling you a great deal about how this project connects to larger strategic initiatives.

Step 4: Finally, ask “Do you envision more projects like this coming in the future?”

If this is the only project of its kind, there’s a good chance there isn’t a grand strategy or goal underneath. But if this is just one of many similar projects, that’s a big clue as to the shape of your organization’s larger strategy and goals.

You probably noticed that this conversation is focused on specific assignments, rather than on your job as a whole. The reason for that is simple: If you directly ask your boss “How does my job fit into the company’s larger strategy?” there’s a very good chance you won’t get a coherent answer. That’s a big, abstract question, and most leaders won’t have a prepared response.

Instead, by gently probing for information about your current or latest project, you’re can tease out and piece together how your work connects to a larger strategy.

You may have to conduct this conversation a few times to fully glean how your work relates to a bigger strategy. But with enough repetition, you’ll typically find that your boss will start to proactively offer these insights.

Ready for the next challenge? Tune in on August 6 for Day 7.

Miss a challenge? Click here for Day 5: Take stock of your days.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m the founder of http://www.LeadershipIQ.com, a New York Times bestselling author and I teach the leadership course What Great Managers Do Differently I am the author of five books, including “Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your People to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More.” Some of my research studies include “Are SMART Goals Dumb?,” “Why CEO’s Get Fired,” “Why New Hires Fail,” “High Performers Can Be Less Engaged,” and “Don’t Expect Layoff Survivors to Be Grateful.” I’ve lectured at The United Nations, Harvard Business School, Microsoft, Merck, MasterCard, Charles Schwab and Aflac, among others.

Source: If You Understand How You Fit, You’re Five Times More Likely To Be Inspired At Work

Three Tools To Find And Fuel Your Purpose At Work

“I just want to quit work and be a bartender!” Sarah blurted at a workshop I was leading. We were talking about career aspirations. When we were done chuckling at her unexpected words, I asked her what she loved about being a bartender. “You mean other than the drinks and tips?” she shot back, recovering nicely.

She paused for a few moments before saying, “I love lending a helpful ear to others.” As we explored further, Sarah discovered she was energized by creating a safe space where others could open up, be heard and feel better. As we dug deeper, she realized that it would be really energizing for her to be an evangelist for creating a culture of psychological safety in her workplace. She started to explore how she could broaden her role in human resources. Until that time, Sarah hadn’t connected the dots of how she can have the “bartender experience” at work.

Like Sarah, many of us dream of quitting our day jobs in search of fulfillment. “What am I even doing here?” many of us ponder, depleted of energy at the end of a very long day. We postpone finding meaningful work until we are just a little bit more financially secure. Maybe we think work is for a paycheck, and we look for fulfillment elsewhere.

This leaves many of us disengaged and costs organizations billions of dollars. Latest Gallup data on U.S. workplaces suggests that nearly 70% of us are not fully engaged at work and 16% are actively disengaged. Perhaps more importantly, our disengagement impacts the people we care about, as many of us drag our depleted selves home.

Beyond personal fulfillment, though, our workplaces need our full engagement, resilience and creativity to solve the toughest challenges of our time. The breakthrough for Sarah (and for each of us looking for fulfillment) came when she dug inside to know herself better. Here are three tools to help you dig deeper, too.

The first tool is your energy map. It helps you take stock of the tasks that energize you and those that deplete you. I use it with my executive coaching clients to help them determine where they should spend their time for optimal effectiveness and to stave off burnout (see below).

 

You can create this map or (download here) and fill this out for yourself. Look at activities based on whether they energize or deplete you and their impact on advancing your goals. The quadrant on the top right is where we should spend much of our time. Consider dumping any activities in the bottom left. I have found that mindfulness helps me to notice my energy throughout the day so try simple mindfulness practices here.

The second tool is your personal purpose statement. There are three steps to do this. First, list stakeholders important to you and ask them the unique value you create for them. This helps you learn how you best serve others. Second, discover the activities where you feel most energized. Third, find the overlap between how you serve others and what you find most energizing.

Your purpose is simply the way in which you serve the world that truly inspires you. For example, my purpose statement is: I connect deeply with others to help them become transformational leaders who make the world better for all. This course has more detailed templates that may be useful to you. Look for opportunities to bring this purpose to life at work and in life.

The third tool is your dream-job definition. Here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • What kind of work activities energize me (see the tool above)?
  • What contribution do I make for others that inspires me?
  • What strengths do I enjoy exercising?

Once you are clear on these answers, find a friend and brainstorm what sets of experiences you’d like to add to your work portfolio. Don’t focus exclusively on the next role in your career path, but rather the experiences or projects (or even volunteer activities) at work that are energizing where you can contribute with skill sets you enjoy exercising.

When you volunteer for a project or take on a stretch assignment that gives you a sense of fulfillment, that positive energy will spill over into your day job. Others will notice your positive contributions. You can even choose to share this insight with your boss, mentors and sponsors inside your organization to align your projects closer to your best contributions.

More and more enlightened organizations are focusing on their own purpose and helping people inside those organizations connect with work that is meaningful for them. Brighthouse, a Boston Consulting Group company, helps organizations excavate their purpose. CEO Ashley Grice talks about how organizations can find purpose and then use it to make an impact. “Purpose has impact emotionally and it has impact financially,” she says. “The bar has gone up a lot in terms of what employees expect from employers in making a difference in the world.”

In fact, institutional investors like Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, are pushing organizations to think long-term about their focus on purpose. As Grice says, the key in actualizing purpose is not just coming up with a great statement (e.g. BCG’s statement is “Unlocking potential to advance the world”), but actually coming up with a set of principles that act like guard rails and help employees bring purpose to life in every day decisions and behaviors. As leaders in organizations large and small, I see it as our responsibility to create workplaces where people can thrive and make their best contributions, so engage others in a purpose conversation.

Now, let’s turn back to the individual level. The poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The work is ours. The time is now. We all need to be fully engaged in our purpose so we can solve the issues that matter to us.

Ready for the next challenge? Tune in on August 5 for Day 6.

Miss a challenge? Click here for Day 4: Put purpose in perspective.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am the CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc. and the author of “Wired for Authenticity.” I have lived/worked in seven countries across four continents. My clients are purpose-driven C-level leaders in Fortune 500 companies who are passionate about creating transformational impact within and around them. My grandmother used to say that I would be philosopher when I grew up. I would spend hours staring outside the window. Admittedly, this was in Pakistan in the 1970s and there was nothing good on TV. Somewhere along the way to a brilliant career as a philosopher I got lost and went to business school instead. After an MBA from Wharton, I spent 20 years in leadership positions in P&G and Novartis including Region President and global Chief Marketing Officer. I have lived/worked in seven countries across four continents.

Source: Three Tools To Find And Fuel Your Purpose At Work

5 Career Paths That Are Perfect For Introverts

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“Everyone shines. Given the right type of lighting.”- Susan Cain

You walk into a networking event, or a team meeting and head straight to the back row. From here, you can observe everything uninterrupted. And when called upon, you cringe inside before you smile and speak.

If this sounds close to home, you are likely introverted.

Introverts makeup 16-50% of the population and find energy from being alone. You consider yourself more of a wallflower than a social butterfly.

And hey, that is okay!

You have a set of skills that are quite unique and can be used well in certain industries. You are likely independent, creative, a good listener and have a strong ability to stay focused. On top of that, introverts brains are wired differently and have a lower threshold for dopamine, this means, it takes less stimulation to feel a sense of reward, joy and euphoria.

But in the working world where collaboration and open office environments are on the rise, you likely struggle to find a role that fits for you. Here are five career paths to consider when on the hunt for an introvert-friendly job.

1. Lab Technician

With strong attention to detail and open-mindedness, introverts make great detectives. If you prefer the behind the scenes action, a forensic science technician is a good career to investigate…no pun intended.

You collect and analyze evidence in a laboratory setting and on occasion may travel based on the crime. This job does require a bachelors in a science related field but will be well worth it if you enjoy the daily tasks.

If going back to school isn’t in the stars for you, a lab technician is a great fit. You will stay behind the scenes in work to diagnose patients and the majority of your day will be spent in a lab environment running tests on samples.

2. Creative Artist

Do you have an eye for photography, an ear for music or knack at crafting? You can capitalize on these creative skill sets and build out your own business. The options here are quite broad, as you can work either independently as a freelancer, start your own company or contract your services out to larger organizations.

If you have a creative skill set, begin to search online for jobs that match what you can offer. As a photographer, you can cover anything from stock photos to real estate photography and corporate events. If you enjoy building installations look for events such as store openings, weddings or special events that require a creative eye.

3. Writer

Introverts usually enjoy solitude and time with their thoughts, and a writer will channel these thoughts into a creative storyline. Consider creative writing, ghostwriting or copywriting career paths, all of which lend well to your independent mind and require a great deal of detail and focus.

If you come from a very technical background in a niche field, technical writing may be a great opportunity to break into the writing world. A technical writer will conduct research on a specific area and then produce documentation in the form of manuals or supporting documents for products or services.

You can begin by joining freelance platforms such as UpWork or Copify to offer your writing services for a broad range of clients and from here build out a business of your own.

4. Accountant

Through the use of strong math and organizational skills, an accountant will spend the majority of the day working with numbers, not people.  You can work for a corporation or open your own accounting firm where you decide who to work with.

In order to become an accountant, you will need a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field. If you aim to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)  you will need to pass the certification process. This is a strong career choice if you are looking for the long haul since jobs in accounting are projected to grow 10% by 2026, which is more than any other job available.

5. Animal Care Giver or Veterinarian

You might not enjoy spending time with large groups of people, but you may enjoy spending time with animals. An animal care manager or vet will spend the majority of their time working with animals in zoos, shelters, clinics or animal sanctuaries. Here they will diagnose, train and examine animals.

If the thought of student loan debt to become a veterinarian is overwhelming, research states that offer student loan forgiveness for veterinarians, as locations with vet shortages are likely to offer this plan.

Understand your skill sets and seek jobs that cater to what you do best. Once you step into a career that fits your mold you will be surprised to find how quickly you excel.

The next time you cuddle up on the couch when you avoid going out to a loud and rowdy party, check out the TED talk by Susan Cain The Power of Introverts for some introverted inspiration.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a career coach who helps job seekers via online programs and one-on-one coaching in finding their purpose, landing more job offers and launching their dream business

Source: 5 Career Paths That Are Perfect For Introverts

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