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Career lions

Job interview clichés with a career lion twist

Job interview clichés with a career lion twist

Just as you think one major week has been conquered, the next challenge awaits. In my case the opportunity rose to get more involved in my company’s youth network as a board member positioned opened up. The vacancy described it required a motivational letter in order to receive an invitation for a job interview. After some consideration whether I would be able to make time for such a position, I figured the opposite of happiness is boredom. I would definitely not be bored taking on a new responsibility. So, I gave it a go and here we are, I got to the next round. Now that means I actually need to go to the interview and prepare myself.

While I don’t budge when it comes to giving presentations, standing in front of a camera or facilitating a session for 30 asphalt fanatics, job interviews scare the crap out of me. In my world, it is one of the most stressful things to have. In preparation for the interview, I came across a lot of clichés and repetitive tips and tricks. To spare you the weeding and stating the obvious, I gave a #careerlion twist to the five golden tips to help you make a lasting impression during your next interview.

CLICHE 1: “Be yourself”

Probably the biggest cliché of them all. The take away here is that a job interview is a chance to showcase your personality. I believe personality is what prevails and can differentiate you from the other candidates. Skills for one can be taught, and chances are that your skills are pretty similar among all candidates. Given that these are usually taken into account before an interview invitation is offered. The most important thing here is to find a balance with being authentic and use proper emotional intelligence, since it takes place in professional setting and just being your full-blown self might result in embarrassing situations.

CLICHE 2: “Strengths and weaknesses”

One of the frequently asked questions during job interviews is: What are your strengths and weaknesses. What I’ve learned during an application course and stuck by me, is that recruiters are looking whether you have some self-knowledge and know how to deal with your competences and development points. A method to use here is the 80/20 rule when describing your qualities. For example: One of my weaknesses is my impatience. Most of the time I have it under control and I actually turn it into a strength as I use it as drive to make deadlines and motivate my team to stick to it.

CLICHE 3: “What is your added value to a team”

We’re all crazy about teams. Scrum teams, management teams, projects teams, all sorts of teams. As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. Therefore, it is important to understand what you can bring to a team. In terms of skills, but also personality. If I can speak for myself, I think I bring a lot of energy to a group as I have the ability to enthuse. Luckily colleagues confirm this periodically. When it comes to my role in a team I am a Resource Investigator according to Belbin and score high on the yellow, red and blue colours of Insights Discovery. This means that I enjoy taking a extraverted role and it is expressed in facilitating creative sessions (yellow), project leading decision-making (red) and data-analytical traits (blue). Having a high score on three of the four colours also means I adjust to the team’s need. You can find more on team roles and personality tests here. 

CLICHE 4: “What is your motivation to work for this company/in this industry/apply for this position?”

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle can be applied to formulate an answer to this question. According to Sinek, this type of argumentation works as it moves some instructive gut feeling rather than just give a rational reply. Instead of explained WHAT you would like to achieve and HOW to achieve it, the Golden Circle starts with WHY, then HOW and WHAT. This type of argumentation is used by for example Apple and explains partly why Apple fanatics are drawn towards the product in contrast to Dell users. Simon Sinek’s TED talk about the Golden Circle can be found here. 

My motivation was as follows: I feel passionate about the construction industry and am especially involved when it comes to development and innovation. I think it is important to convey this passion and to let people know how much fun it is to work in this industry, especially in this company (WHY). I would enjoy doing this by connecting different groups of people and being the link between people and technology (HOW). A position in the board and creating events would be nice way to express this (WHAT).

CLICHE 5: “Give an example where…”

As competencies and personal qualities are mainly vague terms, it is often asked to give a concrete example of a situation where the competency or personal quality prevailed. A widely used method for this is the STAR-method that we’ve discussed before.

With this method is asked about a concrete Situation, what your Task was, how you Acted and what the Result of you action was. Off course, this method can be used more versatile than just to illustrate competencies.

Off course all my personal examples can be replaced with your skills, competencies, passion, quality and personality traits in preparation of your next adventure. I will hear coming week whether my interview was good enough to get me the position, which is exciting. What are your golden tips to make a lasting impression during an interview?

EDIT 1 FEB: I actually got the position, so I must have done something right in my preparation :)

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