Happy new year! I hope you are staying safe and healthy and ready to jump into 2022 with both feet.
As I’ve said several times recently, this is a wacky job market. There is huge demand in food service, warehouse work, and other trades. There is a significant number of voluntary quits in all arenas, which means that those jobs need to be filled by someone else. I expect the employment activity this first quarter of 2022 to be through the roof. It is a great time to be job seeker.
So, let’s imagine what would otherwise be an unusual scenario. Say you apply for a job that you are only lukewarm about, but they call you for an interview. What do you do? You could pass because you really don’t want the job, and I just told you that there were plenty more fish in the sea, right?
Take the interview! There are at least three good reasons that you should take the interview and go into it as if this is the best job ever.
- Practice – To land the job you really want, you need to be good at being interviewed. This gives you the best possible practice. You get to hear and respond to questions, gauge the interviewer’s reaction, and practice your questioning techniques.
- Networking – Even if you don’t think you want this job, you might learn about a different job at this company, or you might be able to include the recruiter and/or hiring manager in your network to help find a job someplace else.
- You might like the job – Want ads are tiny slices of jobs, designed to attract candidates and to weed out the unqualified. You won’t really know what the duties, the work environment, etc. are just by reading the job posting. But, by going through the interview process and talking with people, you might find out that this job is better than you thought.
Let’s be real, what the worst thing that can happen by interviewing for a job you don’t think you want? Maybe you waste a couple of hours of time. Maybe you run into your current boss in the HR office (awkward). Maybe you have to turn down an offer. Those are all pretty small risks. If you get a chance to go through the job interview process, take it. The practice alone is worth your investment in time, and maybe it will turn out even better than you expected. If you need some help with your job search, try this: https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
You remember Scheherazade, right? The legendary storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights? Go read Wikipedia.
Anyway, if you haven’t had an interview in the last decade or so, you may find that the process has changed some. Most interviewers use some form of Behavioral Interviewing and while no longer revolutionary, it’s still state-of-the-art.
The theory is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. If you ask a candidate how they would handle a certain situation (for example – talking with an angry customer) they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear. But, if you ask them to tell you a story about the last time they handled an angry customer, they are more likely to reveal their true stripes.
As the applicant, you need to be ready to tell the story. Search the web for interview questions then think about them and write out your answer. Include all the color and excitement (but still stay succinct). Practice saying the answers out loud so you feel comfortable telling the story. You may not be asked that specific question, but having a back pocket full of stories will build your self-confidence and you’ll be surprised how you can weave one story into many different questions.
Here are some of my favorite questions just to get you started and Google can find you thousands more.
- Tell me about a time when you were a member of a team that had a difficult goal to achieve. What was your role on the team and how did you help influence the success of the group?
- Tell me about a time you had an employee who was not being successful. How did you manage that process and either help the employee become successful, or transition out of the organization?
- Tell me about a time when you were in a fast-paced environment and you had multiple and possibly conflicting priorities. How did you prioritize your work? What techniques did you use to keep yourself organized and avoid missing deadlines?
So, be prepared to respond to an interviewer who says “Tell me about a time …” by becoming Scheherazade and tell a story that people will remember. If you’re struggling with your job search, this may help – https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
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/