We have all heard the adage, “failure can lead to success,” those of us that are smart enough to listen to words of wisdom believe that. With that in mind, for anyone currently interviewing for a job or will soon be interviewing for a job, here are some words of wisdom. Think about an interview you may have had that did not go well; you did not get the job. Most of us are good at coming up with a litany of reasons why, usually none of which are our fault. However, for most of us there were one or two telling moments. Moments when we voluntarily said something or gave an answer to a question that was most likely, the reason we failed.
If you are wise enough to analyze that interview and identify that statement, or that answer that most likely caused your failure, you cannot go back to that interview and change anything, but by learning from that failure, it may help you succeed in your next interview.
I have published my second non-fiction book titled When Preparation Meets Opportunity. It is an interesting true short story that celebrates over-coming obstacles in life. It is now available on Amazon.com/books for only 0.99. You can search by my name or by the book title, I hope you will support me. A brief description of the book follows.
The story of Jeff Hopkins is true; of course his name has been changed to help kept others that may feel this story hits very close to home from any perceived embarrassment. It is in no way meant to be a typical rags to riches story. Jeff did not intend to be rich, his goals at the critical points of his life was to succeed. This book is intended to make the reader think about the difference between failing because people did not help you—and succeeding because you helped yourself.
As you take this fast but impactful journey though Jeff’s life, you will identify with some of the moments, or some of the events he faced that he could have gone off the deep end so-to-speak, and rightfully so, but the choices he makes, takes confidence and guts. The question for you is, would you… could you have made the same decisions?
Reading the story of Jeff Hopkins will show you how having confidence and being prepared when the opportunity comes, will lead to success…
When you are preparing for an interview, you will spend a lot of time practicing how to answer interview questions and what to say while engaged in conversation with the interviewer. It is just as important to rehearse ‘how’ you say whatever you will say.
Many of us have two was of speaking. When we speak to family or close friends, we may have a natural very relaxed speech pattern, and for the most part, there is nothing wrong with that. However, when you are in an interview, you are on stage and need to perform at your peak. Therefore, just as you take extra care of your grooming and plan out your attire, you should also polish your language and use your best communication skills. The interviewer will rarely give you credit for being cool or acting too comfortable.
When you are job seeking or preparing for an interview, you should know the elevator speech or pitch is a vital part of the tools you must use to be successful. Depending on whom you speak with, you will hear many different takes on what it is, when to use it and what it should consist of.
First, in my view, most of what you may hear all has some validity. The key to success is listening for understanding. The people that give you the information (the messengers) will deliver the facts (the message) differently. When you filter through all that you hear, or some might say, ‘eat the meat and spit out the bones’, you will find the message or facts are pretty much the same. You need to customize the facts or details into an impactful short speech or conversation that you are comfortable with delivering anytime, and every time.
What is an elevator speech: In most cases, a 30 to 60 second commercial to sell yourself to a listener that might help you in your job search.
When to use it: Anytime and anywhere you are exposed to someone that might hire you, or might know someone that might hire you, or works in a company that might be hiring.
What it should consist of: 1 -What you like to do (this must include the skills or qualifications the job calls for). 2 – A success story of how you used those skills and finally, 3- explain why you would be a great fit for the positon.
Here is an example of an elevator speech.
Let us say you are looking for a job in a retail store. You have worked in some sales position before and you have worked as a tele-marketer. Your speech might include the following:
I have over five years of sales experience and I enjoy working with people, especially when I can help them make choices on purchases they will be happy with when they get home. I was recognized for helping to increase sales over 10% in my last position. As a customer service specialist, I learned some great practices to quickly understand customer needs as well as how to build their trust. I know from my research, some of your company’s goals are to improve customer service and increase sales while reducing your on hand inventory. With my background and skills, I know I will be a great addition to your team.
Needless to say, you need to do some research on the company before you can customize your speech to them.
I believe we all agree that life is full of mistake. I believe most of us would also agree those very mistakes could also lead to success. That is, if we recognize the mistakes made and make the necessary corrections.
In your last interview for a job that you knew you were qualified for and wanted to have, do you know the real reason you were not hired, or not promoted?
If you analyze that interview and be honest with yourself, get pass the pity parties where you comfort yourself by thinking it was someone else’s fault. You need to also move pass the idea that someone better fitted for the positon got the job over you, if that was the case, there’s nothing you could have done to change it, so don’t waste time concerning yourself with it.
What you need to focus on is that question you did not have an answer for; or, when you gave the answer, you immediately wished you could snatch it back, or when you gave that answer you could see a facial expression from the interviewer that let you know he or she did not like the answer.
Once the moment passes, you can’t get it back. Of course, what you should have said or done in a given moment can never be redone, but if you take the time to understand what was wrong with that answer and why it might have led to failure, you can practice your way to success the next time that question comes up in an interview.
Question: What mistake or failure did you have recently that might lead to your next success?
If you were to ask any successful person, what was the biggest contributor to his or her success, if they had time to truly think it thought, most would say, my past mistakes. For most of you, that statement comes as no surprise.
Having said that; I will add, most of us make a mistake or two weekly, just humor me with the weekly thing; I’m trying to be generous. The problem is, for most people when we make mistakes, we either look for a rock to hide under, or prepare for the berating that we believe is surely on its way.
Once you are passed that moment and whatever reaction is invoked happens, I suggest you consider, the Serenity Prayer. You know the one about knowing the difference between the things you can or cannot change.
Take the time to deconstruct what caused the failure, not the failure itself. Armed with that information, you can begin to fix notable problems that can be corrected by changing some of the steps in that process, or if need be, change the process you were using. It may not be necessary to abandon the ship. With the right thought process and improvements, your last mistake just might be your ticket to your next success.
Please humor me once more, as I give an example of what I mean by ‘deconstruct what caused the failure, not the failure itself’.
Let’s say your goal was to take a walk. You started out but never completed that walk, so you failed. If you deconstruct or look at every part of how you tried to took that walk and what individual acts occurred during your walk, your findings might be you kept stumbling. You may find the cause of your stumbling was you did not tie your shoes. By having that knowledge, you may be able to make some changes to improve your process and succeed on your next walk.
I know, I know, that example may sound simple in many ways, but I challenge you to look at your last failure, if you deconstruct it, you just may find making some very simple changes might lead to your success.
Now that we are a couple of weeks into the New Year, most of us have stopped trying to think up a resolution that we will not keep, or the one we did come up with has or is started to fade by the wayside. Therefore, I want to talk about setting a goal that anyone can reach, you just have to understand what you are doing and why.
As with almost everything, there can be many ways to complete a project, or reach a goal. The goals I am speaking of here are being promoted and/or making more money.
Have you ever said or heard someone say, “That’s not my job”, that is a statement of someone going nowhere fast. (If this statement bothers you, that’s okay, reflection is good)
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are uncaring supervisors and bosses out there that only focus on getting projects done at any cost; never including what may be good or helpful for his or her team. However, when you take on the task of doing something you were not hired or trained for, the act of doing it is your training program.
If you learn to do it well, you also earn the right to lay claim to that as a new competency or skill in your next review, or perhaps in a scheduled meeting you request with a decision maker that will appreciate a homegrown up and coming new leader to the team.
Another way of looking at it is, a position you would not be hired into because you lack the qualifications, you might be promoted to because of your on the job training, and your ability to sell yourself.
So, next time you feel a supervisor or boss is asking you to do a job you were not hired for, don’t think, “That’s not my job”, think, here is my path to a promotion.
My next article will be part two of ‘The Path to Promotions and Bigger Pay Increases’ entitled, ‘Who you should speak with”.
For many job seekers, at some point in your job search, you will see or you may be asked if you would be interested in a seasonal position. For some job seekers, the first reaction and sometimes the only reaction might be, absolutely not. That is because he or she is probably thinking, I have been looking for a job for some time now and I am not going to settle for a dead end seasonal job that will only led me right back to the job search again.
I am not putting blinders on, I agree for most job seekers that will be the reality so this may not work for everyone. However, here I would like to share two points of light. First and most widely understood, it is probably better to have a job providing a temporary income while you continue to look for a more suitable position as opposed to having no income while you job search.
Second and not so well known, most companies especially retailers, keep a close eye on their seasonal workforce looking for caring conscientious workers that they will most likely offer a permanent position when the seasonal work is over. That could be a first step into the position you would like to have.
Something to consider, it may be a good idea to add seasonal positions to your job search.
I would like to share with you an interesting concept on what is a fairly common question that may come up in an interview. On several occasions when I ask participants in my workshops, “what is the most difficult question for you in an interview”? I am sure for most of you; you are conjuring up your own vexing questions as you are reading this. The question I want to speak of here is, “If you had to describe yourself in terms of any animal, which animal would you be”. While you consider that question, let me add that many of the participants that mention this question, also adds he or she does not understand why an interviewer would ask such a question. They feel the question is unprofessional, he or she is not a good interviewer, and just does not know how to ask better questions. Farther, they often say, the interviewer does not realize that type of question may even derail an applicant’s concentration for the rest of the interview.
I enjoy responding to those that bring up this question and the opinions or (feelings) it steers them to, simply because to explain the neurosis of someone asking that kind of question, is also explaining the very essence of the interview itself.
What the interviewer is trying to get at by asking that type question, is simply what do you think of yourself. If he or she were to ask you straight out, “what do you think of you self”? You would probably use those few precious seconds you have between hearing the question and giving an answer to construct a thoughtful, warm and fuzzy answer that you think the interviewer wants to hear. However, by adding the animal element, some applicants are more likely to have that proverbial internal mental meltdown and blurt out an answer that is attached to an emotion you are feeling in that moment. Example, if that question in anyway angers you, you might say, “a bear”; translation, you are aggressive and possibly prone to attack. On the other hand, if that question scares you and makes you what to try to avoid answering, you might say, “a lamb”; translation, you may not stand up for yourself and cower from confrontation or making difficult decisions.
In short, that type question is designed to help the interviewer quickly combine elements from two different types of interview technique, a personality assessment that can reveal things about you that you might not have wanted to share and, a stress test to see how you handle pressure.
So, if you want to have a little fun and at the same time, prepare yourself a little more for an interview, ask yourself, “what animal best describes your personality”? Your answer just might get you that job.
The York Career Fair Committee recently completed a very successful community job fair. By successful I mean we brought together several hundred job seekers and several dozen employers at what turn out to be a great venue, Santander Stadium in York, PA. No doubt, the workshops we offered a week before the event to help job seekers complete resumes and providing key points on preparing for the job fair, as well as preparing for interviews was really helpful for many participants. It was good to see many of the participants were well dressed and well groomed complete with polished smiles, firm handshakes and plenty of resumes. It was an outstanding event.
For me, with so many job seekers coming together in a limited amount of time, it was an opportunity to observe and learn. I was looking for take-a-ways that I might share in future workshops. My biggest take-a-way however, was not something new or even a point that might be a little more difficult for job seekers to execute that we could shed a little more light on. My take-a-way was very basic and should be intuitive to job seekers. Like leaving home to drive somewhere and making sure, you have your driver’s license.
I would be remiss not to share this point. What I observed was far too many job seekers dress inappropriately, male and female alike. Some job seekers did not have resumes or any other documents that could help employers remember something about them, some were unable to complete applications he or she were given at the event because they were not mentally prepared to document their work history.
My point here is, with dozens if not hundreds of applicants applying for the same job at any giving time, any job seeker that does not listen to sound advice about proper dress, smiles, good handshakes and having resumes, is for all tents and purposes, giving him or herself, little chance of being successful in their job search.