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7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

Entering the workforce for the first time is going to be as instructive as it will be potentially terrifying. Most of us get jobs when we’re fairly young, and the realization that we will spend most of our lives answering directly to somebody other than ourselves isn’t an easy thing to shake.

The thing is, our first jobs, no matter how ridiculous, are going to stay with us; they’re going to teach us things we would never learn elsewhere, and to a certain extent, shape the person we’ll become later in our professional lives. Here are seven important lessons you’ll learn from your first job.

people skills

    1. People Skills are 90 Percent of Any Job.

    The other 10 percent consists of the actual skills you learned at college or otherwise acquired along the way. The problem is, we don’t exist in a bubble; we’ll have to deal with other people pretty regularly.

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    Knowing how to communicate effectively, as well as being personable, is going to be (for some of us) the hardest part of the job. Even if you work from home as an independent contractor, you still answer to (and will have to interact with) real people.

    2. You Need to Stay Two Steps Ahead.

    Our success at our jobs – no matter the job – is less about any given moment, day or project, and more about the next. Anticipation is a thing we’ll learn early, whether it’s anticipating what a customer will want before they know how to ask for it, or anticipating the next demand our boss will make.

    If our first jobs teach us anything, it’s that one of the quickest ways to distinguish ourselves in the workplace is to take initiative. Don’t wait around to be told what to do; don’t make any assumptions, either, but if you’re given a chance to jump on the next thing that needs doing, without being instructed to do so, you’ll probably be rewarded.

    3. Don’t be (Too) Afraid to Make Mistakes.

    Conventional wisdom tells us that human beings learn from our mistakes. Science tells us that we may learn better from our triumphs. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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    When it comes to tackling a job, you’re almost guaranteed to slip up once in a while. That’s what the “learning curve” is all about; it’s an understanding between you and your boss that you’re still getting used to how things work. The thing is, learning is a lifelong process. You’re going to make mistakes. Dreading them, or walking on eggshells all day to avoid them is no way to live.

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      4. Get Used to Monotony.

      With very few exceptions, most jobs out there are almost painfully dull. There may be slight variations along the way, but for the most part, our jobs will largely consist of the same activities and tasks on a daily basis.

      Learning to make the most of a predictable life is important; you’ll have to find your own ways to change things up from time to time and inject a little bit of variety into your working hours.

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      5. You’re Going to Work With People You Don’t Like.

      This might be the most important takeaway from our first jobs. It’s tempting to think that after you accept a job, you’ll find yourself among like-minded individuals who have everything in common with you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, on occasion, you may end up feeling like you should take some animal repellant to work with you.

      I got my first job when I was 11 years old, at a local rental company. They rented chairs, tents, power equipment and dozens of other things I couldn’t name. It seemed like almost every other employee who worked there was some kind of ex-convict, swore like a sailor and chain-smoked. Needless to say, there weren’t any employee picnics, and if there were, I’d have come up with a great excuse not to go.

      job security

        6. Accepting Any Job Can be Risky.

        Getting hired is, for most of us, a cause for celebration, and for good reason. It’s a culmination of a potentially months-long process of drawn-out interviews and waiting and worrying. Unfortunately, what comes next is anything but certain.

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        Unless you’re the CEO’s daughter, your continued employment is far from assured. Neither is your financial stability. Learning not to take anything for granted is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn.

        7. Getting Hired is Only the Beginning.

        So you’ve successfully landed a job. That’s great, but you’re still far from knowing everything you need to know about performing the job and, more importantly, immersing yourself in the culture of your new workplace.

        There are peoples’ names to learn and organizational procedures to memorize. Just because you work there now doesn’t mean you’re on even footing with your new co-workers; it’s going to take time and effort to make yourself a truly valuable piece of the puzzle. Find your strengths in the workplace and what kind of skills you offer that others can’t to make yourself truly valuable.

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        Published on December 17, 2018

        15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

        15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

        The importance of asking great questions cannot be overstated. Great questions help you discover new things, diagnose existing problems, and explore how well solutions are working in your life or business. Whether you work with consultants, executives, or entry-level employees, you cannot skip questions.

        Now imagine running a company where sustainability and profitability depends on your ability to determine the brightest minds and skills in the industry in a single conversation:

        How do you know they’re the perfect fit for you? How do you assess their communication skills? How do you know they won’t cost your team in the long run?

        You know it already; ask great questions!

        The concept of asking questions isn’t new but there is a great chance that you’re not taking full advantage of it. A Harvard Business Review article refers to questioning as a powerful tool that unlocks value, fuels innovation and performance improvement.[1] As a hiring manager or recruiter, how to you get this information when you’re meeting a candidate for the first time?

        Ask great questions, of course.

        Without further ado, here are 15 interview questions to ask employees during an interview:

        1. “What are your career goals?”

        Another version of this question is “What types of problems do you see yourself solving in the future?”

        This question is almost never asked and when it is asked, most questions are geared towards knowing how long the employees intends to stay in the company.

        Instead of asking leading questions that would steer employees into declaring undying loyalty for the organization, ask what types of problems they hope to solve in the future.

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        This does two things:

        1. It reveals the skills and interest in your employees.
        2. It lets you know what types of candidates you are attracting in the first place.

        With this, you’re able to trend this data to improve how you market your job opening. And if employee retention is pertinent to you, you can use this information to improve the job function so that future employees can see their future selves in this role.

        2. “Why do you think you’re a great fit?”

        It is important to go beneath the surface to ask questions that make the candidates speak about themselves in their own words. However, a surprising benefit of asking this question is that you’re able to determine how well-versed a candidate really is with the company’s challenges and goals, in addition to their personal attributes.

        Instead of listing off accomplishments, an exceptional employee is able to help you see how these previous accomplishment can translate into helping your organization solve its current business problems.

        3. “What do you hope to learn from this role?”

        The answers to this question can reveal if there is a job-skill match and if a linear career progression is expected.

        As you listen carefully and mind these answers from candidates, you begin to see trends in responses that help you refine how you develop roles, responsibilities, how employees see themselves, and what they want their career to look like.

        4. “How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?”

        Almost every breakdown in relationship is caused by miscommunication or lack of effective interpersonal skills. But a solid indicator of how well a person communicates is how they manage interpersonal conflict.

        Conflict management skills is no longer something required only for corporations who wish to settle million-dollar lawsuits. It’s an essential skill that every worker ought to possess and can make or break an organization.

        Tip: Ask for a time when they didn’t get along with a co-worker and how they resolved the conflict.

        5. “How did you learn about this position?”

        Asking how they learned about the position reveals how the brand is perceived by the outside world. This way, you know if your current employees is your biggest source of referrals for qualified applicants.

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        This also lets you know how effective your current staffing processes are and which channels are worth the effort.

        6. “Why are you interested in this position?”

        Again, another seemingly basic question. But when you field applications from candidates who are transferring their skills from a different department or industry, you want to know why the change was made.

        What led to the aha moment? What was the internal struggle like for them? What stands out to them about this particular position? Very important.

        7. “What excites you the MOST about this position?”

        After establishing how passionate they are about this position, it’s not unusual that you would want to know what tasks and responsibilities excite them most. With this knowledge, not only are you aware of their sense of ownership, you help nurture these skills by encouraging and facilitating the discovery of hidden potential in your employees.

        For example, a hospital nurse might detest inserting intravenous catheters in patients but jump at the task of motivating colleagues and initiating stress-reduction activities on hospital units. An office employee might cringe at the thought of public speaking but excel at creating world-class presentations.

        While you can’t exempt your employee from every task in the role because they favor one thing over another, you are more aware of how rich your existing talent pool is in your organization and can utilize your talents effectively.

        8. “What do you consider your weakness?”

        Why should you ask a candidate what his or her weakness is when all you want is someone perfect?

        Admitting a weakness shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate. Rather, it reveals to you how self-aware the candidate is.

        Self-awareness is essential to personal and professional development, and this is sometimes a precursor to how self-directed a person is regarding their career goals.

        There are arguments about the need to abolish the weakness question from interviews because it reduces candidates’ accomplishments. I disagree.

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        Asking employees about weaknesses lets you understand your employees better so you can not only create a work environment that is smart, you’re able to design professional development programs that can strengthen these weaknesses.

        9. “What will you find challenging about this position?”

        Maybe you don’t want to ask the ”weakness question.” Maybe you’re more concerned about the capacity to perform in the current job rather than their job history.

        Still, you want to know if you have a creative problem solver and how they feel about potential problems when they arise. You also want to anticipate how your employees will adjust to their roles once they are successfully hired. Self-awareness about one’s ability and limits can be observed by asking this question during an interview.

        Note: This question should never be asked with a malicious intent. Exceptional employees come with flaws and this should be expected. They key is knowing whether the successful candidate is willing to be a problem solver.

        10. “What additional support will you need during your transition?”

        This is a very important question during the interview question because not only is the labor market diverse, the response to this question can be used to develop the orientation process and additional training materials.

        As a mentor to newer nurses, this is a question I repeat more than 50 percent of the time during the orientation period. The responses I get provide me with insights into what employees really consider as constraints so that I can make their transition as smooth as possible.

        11. “What qualities do you desire in a leader or manager?”

        Not everyone desires a manager who provides direction while giving you free rein to make your job your own. At the same time, some employees might prefer a manager who is detail-oriented and provides all the answers.

        Knowing this before a candidate is hired can prevent conflict arising from differences in communication or management styles.

        12. “What do you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s decisions?”

        Conflict not only happens between employees. According to a study of conflict in the Canadian workforce,[2] about 81 percent of people leave the organization as a result of conflict.

        The purpose of this question is to determine how adaptable an employee is to different communication styles, what they consider deal breakers, and how they model desired behavior when conflict arises.

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        The responses to this question allows you to manage expectations and an indication for leaders to continuously work on their communication and conflict management skills.

        13. “What would make this company an amazing place to work?”

        Maybe you can’t provide free lunches or paid hours of free time at work like bigger companies. But answers to this question can reveal a lot about what employees think is crucial to well-being.

        In a study of nearly 17,000 employees,[3] it was noted that an increase in stress level is directly correlated to workplace injury. While this interview won’t eradicate organizational constraints or stressors, feedback from candidates and employees on what makes a company a great place to work is the perfect place to start.

        14. “What other questions do you have for me?”

        Although this is a conversation to determine the best fit for your team, company, or organization, the interview goes both ways. Yes, you are also being scrutinized by your interviewee.

        The purpose of this question is to create space to answer the candidate’s questions about your organization. You also get to provide insight on processes, expectations, team culture, and information that isn’t readily available on the company website.

        15. “Tell me about yourself”

        If everything else seems too much, lead with this timeless question. You simply cannot go wrong here.

        Sometimes, the best answers come from open-ended queries. This is your best chance to know the candidate’s history, career accomplishments, and get a feel for their career goals all at the same time.

        It is less intrusive and leading with this question makes it easier to approach other questions––depending on how sensitive the position is.

        The Bottom Line

        Conversation is a two-way street. Good questions can give you great insights into the value an employee can bring to your company. But there is an art and science to asking questions.

        While you won’t become an expert right off the bat, these questions provide a good foundation to start from if you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization.

        More Resources About Job Interview

        Featured photo credit: Drew Beamer via unsplash.com

        Reference

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