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7 Powerful Questions To Determine Whether You Can Get Your Dream Job

7 Powerful Questions To Determine Whether You Can Get Your Dream Job

When ramping up for an interview, it’s important to have all your ducks in a row. You’ve no doubt crafted a list that includes social media blitzes to improve your online presence and pressing your new suit, not to mention crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on your resume.

That’s all well and good, but the real ticket to landing your dream job likely isn’t the color of your tie or the font on your CV. No, the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll get hired is how you answer the questions put forth by your interviewer. Unfortunately, employers are inundated with freshly minted college graduates and middle-aged jobseekers alike. With such a large pool to choose from, old-fashioned questions such as, “What can you offer the company?” and, “Are you a team player?” are no longer enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Instead, you’ll be asked to take on trickier questions.

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Today’s interview is as likely to cover personal branding as it is strengths and weaknesses, and today’s employer is likely to be more curious about your life outside of work than in years past. When trying to land your dream job, you’ll be much better off if you can answer these 7 modern, nontraditional questions.

1. How Do You Like to Be Told You’re Doing a Good Job?

This can be a surprising question if you’ve never received it before, but it makes sense: Interviewers want to figure out how you work and whether you’ll mesh with their team. They’re also trying to determine if you’re independent but willing to take criticism and ask for help when you need it. The right answer here is the honest one. Be open about the type of feedback to which you respond well, and the type that doesn’t work as well for you. Paint yourself as a self-starter but someone who likes the occasional gold star — just make sure your description is accurate.

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2. If You Could Do Any Job at All, What Would It Be?

This is a fun question to answer when Aunt Martha is asking it, but potentially alarming when an interviewer throws it at you. They’re posing it because they want to get to know you, so you should be honest, but you should also tread lightly. Steer clear of describing your boss’s job, for example, or the career you hope this job will lead to. You don’t want to come off overambitious or entitled. Even if you hope eventually to be working in the higher echelons, remember that this is your dream job and stick to describing it as it is.

3. What Does Brand Mean to You?

Branding is all the rage these days, and employers want to know how you’ll use your own image to reflect theirs. Don’t be shy. Share how you really see yourself and be honest about the self-promotion tools that you use. Most likely the person asking the questions already knows some of what you’ll say, so try to be detailed about how you’ve built your presence online and off, and what you intend to do in future.

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4. What Would Your Mother Tell Me About You?

Interviewers ask this to get to the core of your personality. Because your mama is likely your biggest fan and, at least when you were growing up, your biggest critic as well, you have to be honest. Your interviewer will be suspicious if you just spout off the good stuff. Instead, try to be candid: If someone who loved you were sitting in on the interview, what would they say? Which personality traits and skills would they review glowingly, and which would they throw a caution sign in front of? Your honesty will not only tell your employer a lot about you, it will be appreciated.

5. What Do You Do When You’re not at Work?

This may sound like a throwaway, but really it isn’t. Employers care about the type of person they’re hiring, and leisure activities are a great window into that. Unless you work as a television writer, you probably don’t want to answer, “I watch TV,” and leave it at that. Similarly, an outdoor lifestyle company wants to know about your weekend warring, not your latest quilting project. Focus on relevant pursuits. But don’t fudge, because you never know what you might be called upon to demonstrate.

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6. Why Is This Job Right for You?

Your potential employer genuinely wants to know why you’ve applied for this job, but be careful with your answer. Many of us determine our dream jobs based at least partially on elements such as the amount of money we’ll bring in or the lack of travel required. While these are perfectly legitimate factors in any job search, if your employer thinks you’re simply trying to top your last job, you don’t stand as good a chance. Instead, tell them why this really is your dream job. How have you worked for it? Where do you see it going? What does it mean to you to get this opportunity?

7. What’s Your Favorite Book/Movie/Color/International Food?

We all love a random question, but in interviews they’re usually asked to see how well you think on your toes. Before heading in, prep a short list of your favorites so you can answer without a lot of umming and ahhing. Although having to think about a favorite food isn’t so bad, if you can’t come up with a book you may come off as uncultured, and if movie titles escape you it’ll look like you’ve been living under a rock. Avoid that by nailing this easy question ahead of time.

Featured photo credit: Writing In a Diary Close-Up/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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