Later this afternoon I will be competing in a Corn Hole tournament. For those of you not familiar with the sport, it involves trying to toss a 1-pound bean-bag through a 6-inch hole that is about 30 feet away. To be clear, this is a charity event. I’m not any good at corn hole, in fact I’ve only played three or four times. But, I support Rebuilding Together – Kansas City, a fantastic organization that repairs homes for those who cannot afford to pay for repairs. I fully expect to lose big and lose early, but I also expect to have fun.
I’ve been thinking about this game and this tournament, and how I can relate it to job search. I’ve think I’ve found a few parallels.
- Corn hole involves repeating the same process over and over. You might throw as many as 40-50 bags in one game, depending on the skill level of both you and your opponent. Networking is like that. You need to keep meeting people, telling them your story, and asking for their help by referring you to others.
- To be good at corn hole (which I am not) you need to practice and you’ll get better (which I am). Again, the same holds for networking. The more people you meet, the easier it is to tell them your story and to ask for help.
- Corn hole utilizes cancellation scoring. For each inning you add up the total score for each team, subtract the lower number from the higher number, and the net is the number of points the team scoring the higher number gets. Interviewing for a job is like that. In the end, it does not matter how applications you submit, or how many interviews you have. It only matters that for at least one job, you have more successful interviews than the other candidates, and you get the job.
- Corn hole is a social game (especially at my level). Competitors talk, laugh, have an occasional beer, and get to know each other. Networking should be like that as well. While the end result is to find a job, the process is about getting to know people, making new friends, and personal growth.
I understand that some of this may be s stretch, but I think they hold together. Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, enjoy meeting people, stretch yourself, grow a little, and you’ll come out on the other end, not only with a new job, but being a slightly better version of yourself. If you are struggling with your job search, try this: https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
There is an old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, “Practice, practice, practice.” The same is true to the question, “How should you prepare for an interview?” but it’s not as funny.
All kidding aside, here is what I encourage you to do. Find a list of the most common, or the best interview questions. You can Google it, or there is a list of my favorites in the back of my book. For each question, write our answers. Really. Don’t just think about them. Write them down. Work on your answers until you like the way they sound. Then, and here comes the strange part, say them out loud, over and over.
Several things are happening. When you read the question and think about your response you being to create a short-term memory. The more you roll that answer around in your head, the more you are likely to remember it. But, if you then write it down, the writing part engages different parts of your brain because now it’s not just a thought, now, you have to cause your hands to move in relationship to the words. FYI the research supports that hand-writing is even more effective than typing so tell that to your student who is taking notes on their laptop.
Now you’ve thought about that answer, and written down so you’ll have a better chance to remember it. The next step is to practice saying it. The act of speaking the words out loud will do two things. One, as you hear what you wrote, you will probably find that you need to change a few words so it sounds like you. More importantly, you’ve now engaged more parts of our brain and that answer will locked in concrete. The more your practice, the more comfortable you’ll get.
It is very unlikely that an interviewer will ask you exactly the questions you have prepared answers for, but you will know the material well enough that you’ll easily be able to put things together on the fly. You will come across as thoughtful and well spoken. You’ll be ready for any interview.
This is all about the power of practice – not just thinking about things, but writing them down and then really practicing them out loud. Your dream job is out there and waiting for you. Get ready for it by practicing. If you are struggling, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/