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Every 20-Something, Be Careful! 7 Beliefs Held By You Aren’t True

Every 20-Something, Be Careful! 7 Beliefs Held By You Aren’t True

Now that I’m about a month and a half into my thirties, I I truly feel like I know everything there is to know about life.

Okay, that’s not true in the slightest. Ironically, as I get older, I realize I know much less about the world than I thought I did the previous year. While a person’s twenties are full of “firsts” in the adult world, there’s still so much to learn about the world, and life in general. If I could go back to my 19-year-old self and prepare him for what’s to come, I would have started by letting him know the following notions simply are not true:

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1. Everyone has to like you

Maybe it comes from a youthful sense of entitlement, but many 20-somethings feel as if everyone has to like them. Which is incredibly ironic, because they just graduated from high school a few years ago, a place and time in which nobody really liked anybody. All kidding aside, if you live your life trying to please everyone and make them approve of you, you’ll drive yourself nuts. It might be hard to believe, but some people might actually not like you. But that’s okay. The only thing you can do about it is be as nice as you can to everyone you meet. If someone treats you like garbage in spite of all the nice things you’ve done for them, that’s only a reflection on them. If you react negatively to their detrimental behavior, that’s on you.

2. Your mistakes will ruin you

Life in general is just one learning experience after another. Everybody makes mistakes. Making a mistake in life is okay, as long as you learn from it and improve upon yourself. If you continue to make the same mistake time and again, they stop being mistakes, and start defining who you are. The saying goes, “It’s never too late to change.” While that is true, there are consequences that come with waiting too long. If you find you’ve started to stray from the path you know you should be on, make the adjustments right away before it becomes to difficult to right the wrongs you’ve made in life.

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3. Good college grades will lead to success

Here’s a joke for you: What do you call the person who finished last in med school? Doctor! When you get into the real world, nobody will care that you had the highest GPA in your graduating class. Your employers will only care about how you plan on putting your knowledge into action in order to help their company. I’m not saying you shouldn’t focus on your studies in college; I’m saying you should focus on actually learning and not just “making the grade.” Once you’re out of school, those letters on your transcript become meaningless. Your work, networking, and life skills are what will get you far in life.

4. Getting rejected after a job interview means you failed

Not getting a call back after an interview can be incredibly disheartening. You spent so much time researching the company, the position you were interviewing for, and the questions you knew they’d ask. You thought you nailed it. But you didn’t even make it past the initial round of callbacks. It hurts. But it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough for the job, or that you’re a complete failure. Look at the interview as a learning experience. Think of the times you weren’t sure of an answer, or ways you could have been better prepared to begin with. Keep these shortcomings in mind and focus on strengthening them the next time you get invited in for an interview. Also, be sure to keep yourself on the radar of any company that passed you over; you never know when another position will open up and you’ll get a second shot.

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5. Your health can wait

When you’re young, you feel like you can skip the healthy breakfasts, stay out all night partying, and hit the gym only when the mood strikes you. As you get older, you’ll see these decisions catching up with you almost immediately. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle today reduces your risk of serious illness and disease later in life. You should start a healthy gym routine in your twenties, and carry it with you throughout the rest of your life. Living healthy at forty will be a lot easier if you’ve been living healthy for the past twenty years. Getting healthy when your forty is a whole different story.

6. You need to know what you want to do with your life

Most adults I know have had at least two different long-term careers since their twenties. With the world constantly evolving as it is, experts say this trend will continue to the point that some of us will change careers every decade or so. And really, what’s wrong with that? I’m definitely not the same person I was ten years ago. At 21, I didn’t have a wife, still lived at home while working and going to school, and thought I would be on a completely different path than I’m on now. At 30, my main focus is on starting a family. My career is no longer the main focus of my life, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s okay to switch it up if you’re unhappy. As Led Zeppelin famously said, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

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7. You need to be in complete control in your life

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a five-year plan, or should just drift through life without a care in the world. But you can’t control everything. Things will happen that will derail your plans, and when they do you’ll either have to get back on track, or start down a new path. Learn to be okay with such organized chaos. Be flexible when plans change. It’s the people who shut down when things go wrong that fall short of being where they want to be. Trust yourself that you can navigate your life to the best of your ability, along the smooth roads and the bumpy.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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