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Intolerable Job Interview Mistakes Pointed Out By Startup CEOs

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Intolerable Job Interview Mistakes Pointed Out By Startup CEOs

Going through a job interview is stressful for most candidates because they have little practice. In addition, most candidates fail to use a consistent process to prepare themselves. Fortunately, you can improve your job interview performance and get more job offers!

Start by avoiding making the following job interview mistakes:

1. Failing To Do Your Research

Without research and understanding of the company, department and the job, you are unlikely to impress your interviewer. If you are a new college graduate and looking to enter a new company, one research approach is to check with your alumni association to see if any graduates work at the company. You can then meet with those people and get their advice. If you have no prior connections, imagine that you are onboarding yourself as a new hire. In that case, you will have to research the company’s annual report, how it makes money and other basic facts.

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Advanced Tip: To take your research to the next level, find the names of the people interviewing you and learn about them. Find out how long the manager has been with the company and why the company is hiring (e.g. expansion, replacing a lost individual or changing strategy).

2. Providing One Word Answers To Questions

A job interview is a relatively short meeting designed to assess you as a potential employee. If you are invited to an interview, the company’s managers think you have a reasonably promising fit. In the interview, they are looking to learn your approach to problems, how you communicate and whether you are a good fit for the company. Providing one word answers to interview questions provides little insight into your thought process. Even worse, such brief answers may be perceived as rude.

Instead, use structure when answering interview questions to demonstrate your skills and knowledge. For example, use the problem, approach and result structure. If you are being asked about your approach to solving IT problems for customers, you could answer with the following structure:

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Problem: I faced the problem of an enterprise customer who could not place phone calls because the VOIP technology went offline.

Approach: My approach to solving the problem started with the company’s standard checklist because that solves 80% of problems. Next, I asked to speak with the customer’s IT department. During that step, we identified the problem and had a solution in place in one hour.

Result: My decision to go beyond the standard checklist meant that this problem was solved in less than 24 hours. Implementing a solution in this manner quickly resulted in a thank you email from one of the executives and the customer.

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3. Failing To Bring Questions For The Interviewer

Showing your interest in the job and the company is essential to receiving a job offer, especially at a small company where you may interview with the CEO or founder. Showing your interest with a few well crafted questions is an excellent approach. Here are some guidelines on what to ask and what not to ask.

What To Ask

  • Ask how success is measured in the role (e.g. do you have a sales quota? Are there established key performance criteria?)
  • Ask about career progression within the department or company as a whole.
  • Ask what kinds of results you could deliver in your first week on the job.

What Not To Ask

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Avoid asking about benefits during the interview. If needed, you can bring up this topic during salary negotiations.

4. Talking About Your Nerves

Talking about how nervous you are sends the wrong signal. At best, such comments distract the interviewer from learning about you as a candidate. At worst, the interviewer may comment or ask about your anxiety and make you feel worse. If facing anxiety is a concern for you in a job interview, look into stress management techniques to calm yourself. You can listen to a song that inspires you before you walk into the building, for example.

Featured photo credit: Office/Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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