Prepare for the Difficult Person Job Interview Question

I never met a man I didn’t like. Will Rogers

Inquiring employers want to know. How do you handle difficult people in the workplace? You can’t get away with a nice story about an annoying boss and now you work together in uninterrupted harmony.

handle the difficult person

Can You Handle this Difficult Person?

Forget about claiming that you have never met a difficult person unless your name is Will Rogers. The interviewer knows exactly what difficult person you will encounter your first week.

Last post, I laid down some background on why some people find you difficult and that other guy really grates on you. Given your temperament, entirely predictable. Now we can build on that foundation to accomplish two objectives.

First. we want to effectively relate to difficult people. Second, we want to communicate those skills to a prospective employer in a way that reassures them.

That is one of my consistent themes in this blog and my other material. I don’t just want to convince the employer that I can handle difficult people by offering one isolated, contrived story.

I want to be effective because I have learned how to respond to difficult people in a way that prevents any conflict from sabotaging my success and the organizations interests.

Then as I continue to do so mindfully, I accumulate a repertoire of relevant stories that I can tell very naturally.

Continue reading

How do you Handle the Difficult Colleague?

Are you prepared for the “difficult colleague” job interview question? Expect the interviewer to ask for an instance when you dealt with a difficult person to get a handle on your interpersonal skills. Don’t just count on winging it unless you have prepared stories of past successes.

Do you have a great interview story of how you used your skills to handle a difficult person? Can you describe your approach? It is best to start your preparation for this question by developing a simple approach that you can apply consistently. That way your interview answer will be clear and easy to follow and will be more credible to the interviewer. After all, if you just improvised, how can the prospective employer believe that your lovely story conveys the way you might handle a similar situation in the future?

You Need a Strategy for Handling a Difficult Colleague

Spot the Difficult Colleague

Spot the Difficult Colleague

Common strategies usually begins with first informing  the other person that what they are doing is a problem for you. If that’s not successful, you may need to involve other. In exceptional cases, more formal actions may become necessary. In the case of an abusive co-worker, that’s prudent advice, but not an ideal story for a job interview!

You don’t want to imply that every awkward or frustrating interaction with a fellow employee ends up with a meeting with HR! Whatever story you tell will leave them with the impression that you handle all situations in that same manner. Choose that story carefully!

First, lets explore why someone seems “difficult” to you.  Continue reading

Should you ever turn down a job promotion?

Job promotions are often welcome, well-deserved and timely as they should be. But that isn’t always true. Early in my career, I was offered an outstanding opportunity that I strongly felt was just not right for me at the time. A promotion when you aren’t ready for all that it entails can be unnecessarily stressful and limit your career options. 

Can you turn down a job promotion?Can you turn down a job promotion?

Can you turn down a job promotion?

Fresh out of my MBA, I was hired into a position with a large association. It was a perfect fit for my temperament and qualifications. I was immediately assigned a few choice projects that provided perfect opportunities to show what I could do. The work that I did on those assignments was well and widely received.

When my boss was promoted to the top position in the organization, he pressed me to apply to replace him. It was flattering but I felt very strongly that it was premature. Any national association is  rife with politics, which had never been a factor in my pre-MBA work experience as a store manager in the retail lumber industry. I was presently insulated from those concerns which suited me fine.

As you probably guessed by now, I accepted the promotion which brought a nice office, a higher salary, status and travel. Over time I learned a great deal about leadership in a large association but the role was never a great fit. And the new job, with a higher salary and title made it much more difficult to move into other employment.

What advice would I give today to that 30 year old version of myself? Continue reading

“Credential Yourself” on Microsoft Office Skills

credential yourself

Can You Credential Yourself?

Responsibility for credibly communicating your competence in advanced Microsoft Word Skills is entirely in your hands.

Fortunately, even if you can’t point to a fistful of recently-completed certificates, you can quickly create effective documentation of those essential skills and credential yourself.

If you follow the steps I will lay out for you, you will never need to worry that you will be over looked for promotion or have your job application tossed out simply because you learned barely enough skills to get by in fulfilling your current responsibilities.

And you can do that without spending a single dime!

Can you really “Credential Yourself”?

You could just create a nice colorful certificate but that would have about as much credibility as a “World’s Greatest Dad” t-shirt! But you can prepare something at least as effective and more relevant and current within groupings of skills that are generally considered to be basic, intermediate, or advanced skills in Microsoft Word.

You can start with the Advanced Microsoft Word Checklist that I have provided in the free resources section. Then once you have satisfied yourself that you can perform all of the listed tasks, you need to decide how you will substantiate that claim as needed when you are challenged in a job interview. Continue reading

5 Reasons Microsoft Office Skills Need Proof

Proving Microsoft Word or Excel Skills to an employer even before they call can boost your credibility.

Prove your skills with a checklist

Prove your skills with a checklist

Most job postings specify Advanced Microsoft Office Skills, but not every interviewer confirms those skills for every applicant by asking a specific question.  But there are situations where they will need to know that you really have those skills or are just gambling that they won’t ask or will accept an evasive or vague answer.

When your Microsoft Office Skills need proof, nothing less will substitute.

Begin by clarifying in your own mind exactly what is included in an advanced level of skills and then make sure you can actually perform them!

Here are 5 situations when vague, unsupported responses to job interview questions just won’t do and your Microsoft Office Skills need proof.

1. Your MS Office skills are better than your work history suggests

If you have lots of relevant experience in positions requiring Microsoft Office skills, the interviewer may not ask you about them.

On the other hand, if very basic skills are likely all that’s needed in your current position and the employer needs advanced proficiency, they will be more skeptical and require evidence. and that just might mean they don’t invite you for an interview.  Continue reading

Don’t Let Resistance Sabotage Your New Years Resolutions

resistanceYou don’t need another me to tell you that we don’t keep most of our resolutions. Every TV station around has served up the obligatory visit to the local Gym.

They interview people who just joined in early January, fully expecting to stick with some new commitment right through to December 31st.  Most don’t. The initial excitement of those commitment quickly fades.

Why Does Resistance Sabotage your Commitments?

Here are three ways to frame those feelings of resistance from authors who have each taught me a great deal: Continue reading

Communicate Your Microsoft Excel Skills Clearly and Succinctly

In the middle of a job interview, you sense that things are going smoothly. Everyone is smiling, lots of encouraging nods, and most of your initial nervousness has faded. Then a question that you hoped they wouldn’t ask rears up in front of you.

Microsoft Excel Skills

Microsoft Excel Skills

Some job interview questions are designed to throw you, questions that you can’t specifically prepare to answer. For those questions, you can learn and practice how to respond when they show up. Find a list of such questions and practice responding.

“How strong are your Microsoft Excel skills?” is not one of those questions, but it’s not very specific. And when you answer it vaguely it is obvious to you that it is obvious to the interviewer. And there is no excuse not to have a very specific answer to that question. Continue reading

Job seekers must fully address employer concerns

Sanjit P., a banker from India, Paul M. a newly unemployed tool and die machinist, and Andrea S., a former accounting clerk, may not appear to have much in common. But all three are frustrated job seekers looking for employment in Southern Ontario and all face difficulties in the job market for what is essentially the same reason. Too often, prospective employer concerns about hiring them are significant barriers that never are addressed.

Address Employer Concerns

As I have mentioned in a previous post, all these worthy job applicants see is a total lack of response.

Morning after discouraging morning, they send cover letters and resumes to posted employment opportunities.

Evening after discouraging evening they wonder what they need to do differently.

In each of these (fictitious) stories of typical job seekers, one significant piece of information stands out to an employer like a red flashing light and sends the application to the trash.

Know the Precise Employer Concern

Sanjit worked as a banker for 15 years but it is hard to tell from his application exactly what his responsibilities might have been and he is applying for a much more junior position than a banker with an MBA and 15 years of Canadian experience would consider. The employer concerns are that he will not accept the work environment and more junior duties that go with entry-level employment opportunities and that he will need significant training to get up to speed in the job. He will not be able to “hit the ground running”. Continue reading

Document your Advanced Microsoft Word Skills

I frequently see resumes from job applicants claiming Advanced Microsoft Word skills. When such a high level of proficiency seems highly improbably given their previous work experience and education, I am very skeptical. When I have doubts and the answer is important to me, I ask questions. I want to know what specific things you can do on the job tomorrow.

Document Your Advanced Word Skills

Advanced Word Skills – Really?

Many job postings ask for advanced skills beyond what is essential, but that doesn’t really matter. When you are asked in a job interview some sort of vague question about your Microsoft Office skills, you still need to nail it convincingly.

That is the reason I created the checklists that are now available in the MS Office Skills Checklists section. By making sure that you know exactly what advanced skills are, you can avoid an awkward conversation that doesn’t answer the question. You don’t want either error. You don’t want to be embarrassed when you learn that you actually don’t have any advanced skills. Pretending you have skills that you don’t makes for an entertaining movie, but I think the thrill of the experience falls short of that in real life. Continue reading

What Credentials on Microsoft Word Skills can you offer?

What evidence of your Microsoft Word skills could you offer in response to job interview questions?

“Pretty good, I guess” isn’t very precise, but without advance preparation, a mumbled vague response is the best you have.

You don’t even know exactly what advanced skill levels are for this particular interviewer and you don’t want to reveal your ignorance by asking. You don’t know exactly what they need you to be able to do. Very often, the interviewer doesn’t really know either! So they wait to see what you say and write that down and go on to the next question.

You are justifiably proud of your accomplishments and references and university degree. But wouldn’t it be beneficial to state very precisely what things you can do with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint  Access, Publisher and Outlook?

What if you could say “I have all the Intermediate skills for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook and basic skills for Access and Publisher. I have already sent you a PDF file that lists my Microsoft Office software skills in detail, along with a series of documents and projects that together are my “credential”. Continue reading