I have been a part of some really bad interviews in my days, but I will say for the most part people want to put their best foot forward and show the best version of themselves when they are in the interview process. It’s part first impression, expertise, good storytelling/communication, and embodying the role to some degree. We talked before about ways to ace the interview (EP 113 & EP 217)
It’s fairly common for a hiring manager to run across someone who has a list of canned responses that they spew out on command. That’s exactly what an interviewer doesn’t want; they want to see your true authentic self in order to determine if you are qualified and a good fit for the role. That’s why some off-the-wall and downright crazy questions sometimes come up in interviews. They want to catch you off guard and see how you really react.
Here are some common responses from candidates that fool no one during the interview.
Making it all about you – the ego trap
According to a TopInterview survey, two of the most hated qualities during the interview process are dishonesty and a sense of entitlement (or arrogance). it can be tempting to lean a little extra into your story and embellish the facts or overexaggerate your role in getting a team accomplishment.
All the interviewer has to do is dig a little deeper with follow-up questions and your story can quickly fall apart and you now have lost a large amount of credibility with the other person. The interview may still go on, but you’re likely done in the interviewer’s mind.
Instead of falling into the temptation to please your ego or overly impress the person, share what you actually did on the team or the accomplishment/project and what the impact was. What’s even better is if you also share what you learned during the process. What did you take away to make you even better for the next opportunity? This works much better than trying to dig yourself out of a self-created hole.
Answer the question directly and authentically instead of dodging and redirecting to a different story that is all about you. Highlight your team and give them credit during your time with the person.
“I get along with everyone”
More and more people are using behavioral interviewing as they assess new candidates. (It’s our recommended approach to hiring with companies that we have worked with). People want to understand how you work with others; how you address conflict, personality differences, and other interpersonal barriers that we all face on a regular basis.
Have some stories and be ready to show how you dealt with customer issues, team issues, and conflict resolution. Responding to these types of questions with something along the lines of, “I get along with everyone,” sends off caution signals to the person interviewing you. They may see you as non-confrontational or lacking in self-awareness.
There is not a person on Earth that gets along with everyone! Think about the role you are applying for and potential personal situations that may come up in that position. Then recall back to your past experiences and try to draw some similarities in situations. (Does the job face a customer? Does it lead people?) Customer service is customer service regardless of industry. The same goes for leadership. How you lead people and handle conflict is universal across the board.
It’s a classic interview question: “What do you need to work on?” or “What are your weaknesses?” It’s also a question that gets the vaguest answers and non-answers. It’s an internal conflict, right? You want to shine during the interview and not give the person a reason to pass you over. Non-answers, easy-outs, and vague responses only frustrate the interviewer. It shows the other person either you aren’t being real or you lack self-awareness with your answer in a non-committed way.
Instead of lying to yourself and others by saying you have nothing to work on, have a list of three things that you need to continue to work on and refine in your own life. If you share two with authenticity, you can ask if they want to hear more and they’ll typically stop you, thank you, and move on. On the other hand, if you are non-committal then you are opening yourself up to further exploration.
Also, avoid trying to sneak in strength as a weakness, “I work too hard,” or “I’m too committed” These responses add no value to your time with the interviewer.
“This is my dream job”
We are all in on finding your job. (Ep 228 – 231) Remember that your job might be your job for now as you progress in your career to your ultimate goal. Avoid going into every company interview telling them how this is your dream role, especially if it’s for an entry-level role. The interviewer will either dismiss the statement, think you are full of it, or that you don’t have aspirations to do more for yourself.
Speak to the aspects of the job that you are looking forward to, and what you are hoping to learn and contribute in the role. This will come across more authentically.
While it may not be your dream job, it may be your dream organization. Be mindful here. It’s absolutely appropriate to share why you connect with the organization and your desire to serve there, with the desire for a long career with them. It’s not in your best interest to share that you are looking to just get your foot in the door. The interviewer doesn’t want to have to fill the role again in 6 months as you try to job-hop inside the organization.
Lean into our interview best practices and avoid these common interview mistakes that hurt more than help. You’ll have a great conversation that reflects well on you as a result.
Have you ever known someone who leaves a great opportunity only to flounder and as a result never bounces back to a level that they were before? Perhaps they are the type to jump headfirst into the newest financial fad without thinking through the implications. Maybe they are constantly job hopping instead of taking time to plan out a true career journey.
There are times when we all could have benefitted from a person helping us see the larger picture before making a foolish or rash decision. Here are some ways that you can help protect your people from themselves when they need it most.
Keep a close connection when they are struggling
Sometimes it is quite easy to see when someone is struggling in their work or personal life. They act out, they may lower their level of care for themselves and others, or they may begin cutting themselves off from critical relationships among other signs. For others, the signs are much more subtle. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I didn’t know that they were struggling or had an issue,” until it was too late.
Find the right balance: Are you figuratively smothering the person or do you need to be even more present with them? It’s hard to tell at times, and the level of connection needed can change depending on what the root cause of the other person’s struggle is. Adding to the complexity is the fact that we all need different amounts of quiet and space to process. Some great activities that always help include – taking care of some of their daily tasks, helping them get a change of scenery, and providing them with extra support. Make sure that the person is open to the help first.
Listen or problem-solve?: Being there for someone will typically fall into one of two categories: helping them problem-solve through the situation or simply being present and available for the person. A great strategy here, for both home and work, is to just ask the question, “Do you want me to help problem-solve, or do you need a good listener right now?” This gives the person an opportunity to share what their need is and a clear direction for you during the conversation.
Fill in the blanks
A person may believe that they are making good decisions or acting in a way that props themselves up for success, or at a minimum, helps them move away from a situation that is not good for them. In reality, they may be unknowingly setting themselves up for failure.
Ever make a poor choice because you later learned that you were missing critical information? People have created irreversible harm to their relationships and careers because they were acting on skewed or incomplete information.
Help your people see and understand the bigger picture. Speaking in anecdotes and what-ifs only can cause more confusion which leads to further disengagement down the path of a decision that can have unintended consequences on their career.
There may be circumstances when you can’t share fully for a number of reasons. In this circumstance, let them know that you aren’t able to share any information at the current time, but give them a timeline of when you’ll follow up with them. Mark the time commitment in your calendar so that you don’t forget to re-engage on the topic.
Give them a chance to share their struggles
Providing the person the psychologically safe space to openly share their struggles is important. There is a high likelihood that the person firmly believes that some of their needs are not being met by the team or organization. Give them a chance to express their frustration and share what their needs or aspirations are. What you learn here may give you an easy path to set things right.
Give them a way back
Let’s say the person is a wonderful contribution to your team, but they end up moving on. Let them know that they will have a place on your team if they ever change their mind. Over the years, I’ve spoken to several people who left an organization, only to return. Their loyalty and appreciation are nearly always higher as a result. Be sure to help them work through any embarrassment that they may feel as they re-onboard with the team.
We should always want the best for those on our teams, and that sometimes means letting them move on to bigger and better things. In those times when a person may be making a hasty decision, move in to provide extra support to help prevent them from making a move that they will later regret.
Thank you so much for listening to the show, whether today’s your first show or you have been with us from the beginning. Today, Zack, Neha, and Mike get together and discuss the past year, share some stories, preview some things coming in year 8 and answer listener questions from our mailbox!
As an adult, you spend the majority of your productive hours of the week working with and alongside other people. In order for you to be the most productive and carry a good sense of belonging, you need to have great working relationships with those that you interact with.
With personality rubs, competing personal priorities, and an uneven amount of compassion and empathy, talking about the importance of great working relationships is easier said than done. Here are some simple approaches to implement to start building those relationships today.
Communicate & stay in touch
One of my biggest hurdles when wanting to better a working relationship is the communication cadence. The relationship might not be where it needs to be simply because there isn’t a relationship in the first place. It’s hard to build a relationship with someone that you don’t talk to!
Be mindful to reach out regularly. It may feel a bit forced at first, but by approaching it with genuine care and curiosity, you can help smooth over any awkwardness.
Be thoughtful in your communication approach as well. We all have our preferred vehicle for communication and it may not be the same for the person that you are trying to build a relationship with.
Look for opportunities to connect
I like to show up to meetings early because then I have the opportunity to connect with others without an agenda attached to the time. The conversations can range anywhere from work-related to small talk to learning about others.
Before one meeting last week, we talked about Nashville and its wild people gatherings on Broad Street. From there I learned that someone on the team lived there, other people’s musical preferences, and what they have done in the city. All great info to have when building relationships with others. (And none involving work!)
Show to meetings early and/or be the last to leave. Also, consider other opportunities like shared work breaks and lunches together. It shows others that you have a genuine interest in them and it’s a natural way to have more connections with others.
Great working relationships are grounded in trust and a level of mutual respect. You can show respect to others by:
Meeting and exceeding your commitments to them and the team.
Being on time (or early) to meetings and communicating early when a situation prevents you from attending.
Honor people’s time. Don’t keep them too long if they need to be moving on to the next thing.
Listen more than you talk in meetings.
Stay away from office politics and gossip. Even if it’s not involving the other person, they will see that you are participating in the gossip and may wonder what you are saying about them when they are not around.
Be accountable for any missteps that happen as you build the relationship. We all make mistakes. It’s important to own them so the other person sees and understands that you recognize your growth opportunities.
Lean into the positive
There is a time and place for venting and sharing frustration, but the time you are investing in relationship building is not the proper time.
Keep away from complaining about others because it doesn’t help as you try to build trust and respect with others. Look for positive solutions to problems that people take for granted. Keeping a positive focus will naturally draw others to you and accelerate those relationships to want to strengthen.
Stay in touch with the people you are building relationships with and look for natural points to build rapport and add value. Show respect and communicate in a way that meets their personal preference. Stepping out of your comfort zone a little in order to grow relationships will be a valuable step of faith.
Whether it’s a larger promotion in leadership, or your first time leading others, jumping into a new role can be exciting and rewarding long term. Despite all of your goals, dreams, and ambitions, you can flounder in your new role, if you approach it the wrong way. You must be able to change yourself, your leadership style, and your priorities in order to be successful in your new role.
The phrase, “What got you here, won’t get you where are going” certainly applies to this critical juncture as you transition in your own leadership.
Be willing to let go of things that you love
We all have things that we love to do in our jobs. From the super quirky to the very relevant, there are just things that we love to do ourselves. It’s also highly likely that you are the best person at whatever the particular task is and you also get a nice level of satisfaction for completing the task.
One of the personal rubs that you will have to overcome in your transition, are the things that you love doing. Those projects or tasks that you enjoyed so much are likely not appropriate for you to be doing at that next level of leadership.
Continuing to do those old things that you loved will mean that you are leading a level down, which means that you are likely going to frustrate those that you are serving and cause things to be less efficient.
Let go of those old things that you love and give grace and space to those that take up your previous passion projects. Rest assured, the work will still get done and you’re likely to find a whole host of new passion projects in your new role.
Adapt how you lead
Your leadership style is going to need to change as you make your transition, regardless of your current leadership status.
For those leading others for the first time: You need to really lean into delegation and supporting your team to avoid the temptation to try to do it all yourself. Stay close to your direct leader and a trusted advisor or mentor to help keep you on track with what to prioritize and delegate.
For those that were previously leading people: You are now likely leading leaders instead of individual contributors, or you are leading a full segment of the business. Your influencing skills need to take center stage for you know as you lead leaders. Prioritize your direct reports and make sure that they are prioritizing their direct reports (instead of you) to ensure the vision, and the message are getting down to the front line people.
Other items that you’ll need to assess and change are your communication style, how you spend your time and the way that you carry yourself among other things.
Consider your sweet spot
I’ve seen many leaders over the years get unpleasantly surprised with then promote a great employee from within. They showed all the right signs; high performance, and dedication to the job and to others while having a can-do attitude. Once these great people got into their new roles they floundered. The leader was frustrated, efficiency dropped and many times the employee ended up leaving.
The person was extended one past their sweet spot. Your sweet spot is your calling. It’s your happy place where you are the most impactful and feel the reward in what you do. You are typically very good at what you do and that’s why leaders are naturally drawn to give these people promotions. They think, “They are wonderful at this role, then they’ll be great at the next one.” Once the person is extended past their sweet spot, they will drop in engagement and capability. It’s not really the person’s fault. They just aren’t in the role that was meant for them anymore.
Based on your personal goals, passing and personal calling, you should have a fairly good sense of knowing if you’ve hit your sweet spot or not. Once you do, don’t continue to move up the organizational ladder. You’ll be doing the company and yourself a disservice. Instead of passing through a leadership transition that you shouldn’t, invest in yourself by going deeper in your expertise or by gaining new knowledge. This will keep you relevant for the future and help you from getting bored in your everyday work.