Archive for the 'Interviewing' Category

Am I a geek?

An absolutely FASCINATING article here. Called Geek Etiquette, it is a summary of a talk by Michael Schwern “Geek to geek:how we fail, how to fix it.”   Swear words are used in the post, but I’m pretty sure that most of my readers are adults, and can handle it.

The interesting bit for me is the piece about tact filters. The extract below explains this a little –

“Most non-geeks have outbound tact filters: they filter what they want to say and add polite noise as it passes through. Geeks have inbound tact filters: they take bare communication with no politeness and just wrap it in assumed politeness as they interpret it.

When non-geeks talk, geeks think the polite sounds they make are redundant.

When geeks talk, non-geeks just think they’re being incredibly rude.”

I’m interested in peoples thoughts on this. I’m a firm believer that the language we use is incredibly important. Not just in the way that other people perceive us, but in the way that we perceive and understand the world. The words we use ‘shape’ our world. If we continually use negative words – can’t, problem, stupid etc – it skews our perception of the world so that these words become real. We see ‘problem’ instead of ‘challenge’, or see people as ‘stupid’, instead of just having done something that didn’t work out.

Waking up every morning and saying (and believing) ‘today is a GREAT day’ will typically make the day a lot more fun and productive than waking up and thinking ‘I hate my job’, for example.

The spin that the article linked above brings is fairly simple for me. Lack of positive words does NOT necessarily equal negative. Just because your boss doesn’t tell you how good you are every morning, or a co worker doesn’t ask if you want a cup of coffee when they make one for themselves, doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  It could very easily be that they just don’t consider it; that its understood that you are valued, and that engaging in social niceties is just a waste of time. NB – this is not often a conscious consideration either.

As far as I am concerened, rudeness (and politeness) has to have TWO aspects.

  1. The act of rudeness itself (or ommission of politeness)
  2. Sincerity (The INTENT to be rude, cause offense or snub; or the converse, the desire to be polite or praise)

Without BOTH elements, it’s just an accident of perception, and offense should not be taken. (In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to take offense in any case. It doesn’t work for the offender if the offendee doesn’t take it. – A good lesson in customer service is that irate customers are almost never angry at the person in front of them, just a service or product which is perceived to be below par.)

Funnily enough, I got a new satellite navigation system recently, and the voice on it is already causing me to grit my teeth for this very reason. When I approach a junction it always tells me to ‘Please prepare to turn’. Maybe I’m a geek (I’ve been called worse), as this false politeness just seems to be a complete waste of time and effort. It cannot possibly be sincere, it is delivered by a machine, so what point does it serve?

What’s the point?

Just to think about it, consider colleagues with a slightly different angle, and to consider who you’re speaking to and how your own communications might be perceived by them.


Top 10 Reasons for failing interviews.

How well do you think you do in an interview? 

You can read book after book on how to interview well but the truth is in the telling, and on the day it’s about how the interviewer sees YOU. Not your skills, not your knowledge, not your education or qualification, not even your experience – YOU.  All these others might get you an interview in the first place, but they don’t win you the job.

I find that knowing how to do something is often less useful than knowing how NOT to do something, so here are my top 10 ‘Reasons for failing interviews’.

1  –  Not The Right Job.

        There are BILLIONS of jobs out there.  Go for the ones which are right for you. For an interviewer, it’s easy to spot when people are over or underqualified for a role, or just plain couldn’t do it. Pick the right interviews and don’t go wasting your own time or the interviewers.  NB. This is NOT to say you shouldn’t stretch yourself, just make sure that stretch is still realistic and not a waste of time.

 2  – Poor Communication Skills

        Who would you employ? The person with all the right information on their CV but an inability to communicate effectively, or someone with one or two gaps who is willing to learn and can express themselves easily and fluently. A lot of this is down to you as an individual – practice the bits you think you need and make sure they’re there when you need them.

3  –  Low Enthusiasm

        I know it’s an interview, I know you’re nervous, I know it’s hard to see exactly what the job entails, but pleeaase add some energy into your interview!  Be a little excited to even have got to the interview, and the prospect of getting the job should be great!  If it isn’t re read no. 1

4  –  Negative statements

        I’m not putting negative attitude, as for all but the most basic roles this should largely have been addressed prior to this stage. Negative statements about people, previous jobs, companies or challenges should be avoided where possible. Try and think if the good that came out of each situation and focus on that. Give each one a positive twist.

5  –  Lack of Preparation

        ‘So, what do you know about us?’ answered by ‘Well – it’s a sales job and the agency said I should try.’ Rarely goes down well. A little preparation beforehand to find out about company history, markets, products and finances ALWAYS goes down well.

6  –  Gaps in your knowledge of your own CV! (Resume)

       If it’s on your CV you should know it! It’s pretty common for recruiters to ask questions to validate theinformation they’ve been given. It doesn’t matter if its pure forgetfulness or outright deceit. If they think the information you’ve given them is not 100% correct it raises questions you could do without.

7  –  Mistreating Anyone

       Don’t make the mistake of thinking the only person you’re there to see is sitting in front of you asking questions. Apart from being basic courtesy, it’s not uncommon for people to ask their assistant or secretary’s opinion of job candidates. This can even go right to the receptionist on the front desk.  Treat people like people and with the respect that you would expect if you were in their position and you can’t go far wrong.

8  –  Personal Appearance

        I know there’s often different dress codes for different roles and different circumstances, but the key as far as interviewing goes is to dress up. I used to say that it’s always best to wear a suit, but times are changing and sometimes it’s best not to over dress nowadays as well. If there’s any doubt at all in your mind on what might be the best option, go for the smarter one. When you get invited back afterwards you can always rejig your ideas and appearance for next time.

9  –  Not asking questions

        An interview is an opportunity for you to get to know about them as much as it is for them to find out about you. Neither of these things can happen without communication, and this is two way. If you don’t ask questions it is easy to think there is a lack of interest in the opportunity.

10  –  Punctuality

         Arriving early is understandable, possibly even desirable. Arriving late is extremely poor form. Arriving late without giving notice of this is unforgiveable! Give yourself the best chance to arrive unflustered, on time and well prepared as possible. Leave a little early if you have to. ALWAYS take contact details of the person you are meeting so you can advise them if the worst occurs.

These are not necessarily in order, and interviews are always individual, however – now you know the top reasons for doing badly, ask yourself a question.  What will I do differently in my next interview?   Set yourself a target to change at least one thing. After all knowledge by itself is NOT power. Knowledge plus action – That’s power!

About me.

A professional speaker focused on helping people get more out of their day; for themselves and their companies.
I help people get things done by helping them realise that all the knowledge in the world will do absolutely NOTHING for them - if they don’t use it.
I want to change the world, and getting the right people in the right place is only the start. In todays world it is so, so easy to get pulled into doing all the wrong things. I help people figure out what the right and wrong things are and make sure their energies are focused in the right place.
Feel free to comment, or you can contact me by emailing markbell AT mbsprogress DOT com