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.
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.
Proving Microsoft Word or Excel Skills to an employer even before they call can boost your credibility.
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 →
If you submit 10, 20 or more job applications every week without response, you are not alone and it’s your job to figure out why.
Are you treating the job search as a numbers game, like telemarketing? If I just send more applications, sooner or later it is inevitable that I will rise to the top of the pile. Or do you believe those who say “nobody gets hired from online job postings”. If that was true, how long would employers continue to accept online submissions? Not very long.
Communicate Your Skills Clearly
Not every opening that is posted online is filled from online applicants but some are. If you aren’t among the winning pllicants, it may have something to do with how you are applying, but you may be perplexed as to what to change.
Do you understand the hiring process from the perspective of an employer that receives thousands of applications? Often its a junior staff member who reduces the pile to a manageable number. It’s easier than you think. Just discard applications that don’t mention the key words related to the required qualifications. Then calls are made to conduct an initial screening interview or to schedule an interview. So what if that prospective employer called the top 20 applicants but your phone didn’t ring? And what if that happened 50 times every week? Continue reading →
Because it wasn’t easy to find a simple list of what skills would be included in “Advanced Skills”, I decided to step in to make a contribution. In that post I addressed the need for a simple checklist of skills with Microsoft Word, and other Office software at the basic, intermediate and advanced level. The response to that post has been remarkable. Today I am further addressing that need by releasing the first in a series of checklists in the resources section of this site. Please feel free to pass any of these checklists along to anyone who can benefit from this tool.
We all dread certain job interview questions, but with a good answer ready you can actually look forward to any question.
Successfully launching a blog is not easy and just the fact that you have a blog that is in any way career related gives you a conversation starter and icebreaker. But your blog can provide much more than that. Here are a few questions that you can respond to by drawing from your blogging experiences:
Provide an example of your problem solving skills:
If you have successfully launched a blog and sustained it for a significant amount of time, you have solved many problems. So every time you solve a significant problem, write down a short description. Note the nature of the problem and the implications it has for your blog’s availability or effectiveness. Describe exactly your problem solving process. what you did to solve the problem (e.g. use Google, phone a friend etc.). Specify clearly the outcome of the action you took and what you learned if anything. Tell the whole story in less than 60 seconds if possible in a way that is easy to understand. Continue reading →
Establishing a blog related to your career can cure a lot of ills. Feeling stuck in a rut is just one. It has never been easier and the benefits have never been clearer.
12 benefits from a career-related blog:
Blogging gives you, not your employer or anyone else, total control over the heart of career management, your personal brand.
Here’s your chance to broadcast the experience and wisdom you have accumulated in your professional career. You can answer those questions that no one ever asks or provide the advice to a newcomer that you wish someone would tell them. Continue reading →
Your job interview vocabulary may matter much more than you expect. I’ve seen first-hand how powerfully the words you use in a job interview affect the impression you convey to the interviewer. significantly more than I believed. Recently I was privileged to participate in a series of mock interviews. The impact of vocabulary was especially noticeable in their responses to behavioral questions. One interviewee omitted entirely any reference to the specifics of the detailed job description that she was provided.
I was astonished, given that several similar positions were listed prominently on her resume. During subsequent interviews, I observed specific vocabulary more closely. Applicants responding to behavioral questions using the same vocabulary as those included in the job description clearly gained credibility by doing so. Very simply, you just believed as you listened to their words that they were already in the position. The incremental impact was especially strong for interviewees who had previously worked in a different field, but made the effort to prepare. On reflection, it became clear to me that effective interview strategies pay close attention to the vocabulary of the job description. It sounds very simple, but I think it is commonly overlooked. Continue reading →
Savvy employers have always looked for reliable short-hand methods for identifying a “poser” – the one who talks a good story but doesn’t really know how to do the job.
In the early 50s, my father worked as a carpenter on construction projects in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Unemployment was high and would-be carpenters approached the foreman virtually every morning. He didn’t ask for a resume, he just asked ask to see what was in that toolbox that each one brought to the job site, hoping to work that day. Anyone with a toolbox full of shiny new tools was summarily dismissed as an obvious “poser”. Brilliant! The tools of an experienced carpenter are well worn.
Here are a few lessons we can learn from this simple story:
Know the typical indicators that hiring managers in your field use to screen applicants. Conduct information interviews with people already working in similar organizations, the one you’re applying to if possible. Don’t just guess. Be sure.
Once you know “well-worn hammer” for your field, demonstrate it. Today’s hiring manager may have had more formal training in modern interview techniques, but is just as busy as that foreman. That places employs simple “rules of thumb” to eliminate unsuitable candidates at a premium.
Prepare thoroughly to avoid elimination. If they don’t like to see shiny new briefcases, borrow one that has seen a little use. If they care more about attitude than grades, practice that smile!
Build a portfolio of completed projects as evidence that you really do know how to use a hammer and bring it with you to the interview.
You may dislike some of the decision rules that you encounter. You might think they’re unfair or arbitrary, even idiosyncratic! That’s OK. When you have their job, you’ll get to have your own arbitrary policies!
In his new ebook, “’Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets”, Skip Freeman advises jobseekers that today’s employers are looking for reasons to exclude you from consideration, not to include you. Hoping that a kindly foreman will overlook your shiny tools ensures that you stay excluded.
Harry Jones is one of my neighbours in a 30-story condo building. Harry resents calls from all telemarketers, but he becomes especially rude when someone calls him asking to send a sales rep to provide a quote on a new roof. There are 15 floors above Harry. If the roof leaks, at least 15 other people will know before it bothers Harry.
One evening earlier this week, the following telephone conversation took place between Harry and Shelly, a woman calling on behalf of NVR Leak Roofing.
Shelly: Mr. Jones, our crew will be installing a new roof just down the street and I’d like to send our estimator to provide you a free quote.
My first impression on meeting someone new is a very unreliable guide for the important decisions. In the workplace and even in the church, we often need to ascertain who is dependable or trustworthy. In my recent training, I have learned in some depth about the implications of our differing temperaments. I began to wonder whether I might simply be less skilled than others in employing first impressions for hiring and other important decisions. Perhaps I am, but I was intrigued a few years ago to encounter an excellent book by “America’s top jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who can literally read a person like a book”. She wrote “Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior– Anytime, Anyplace.” As a jury consultant, her livelihood depends on adroitly culling those prospective jurors who are likely to view the accused adversely. Her excellent advice is invaluable for anyone who needs to assess individuals. Despite being a highly skilled and experienced predictor of individual behaviour, Jo-Ellan defers a decision as long as possible, because she knows there is always one more vital piece of highly relevant information that she doesn’t yet know. Thank you Jo-Ellan!
When I meet a client, I notice a limp handshake or a broad confident smile just like anyone else and I find that interesting but far from conclusive. So I endeavour to watch and wait and grant others the benefit of my doubt (thanks, golden rule!). When I coach individuals including jobseekers, my first impression of them provides nothing more than tentative information that I can share to their benefit when appropriate.
A future entry will address the challenges we have with those we experience as “difficult” in the workplace and other environments. I have identified more than 15 distinct reasons that my coworker might seem to be “House” or “Jezebel” in my workplace. Many of them have nothing to do with me but neither do they neessarily indicate an evil nature in the other person. For now, consider that every one of us is likely to be a “difficult person” to someone!
Do you record your first impressions in ink or pencil? Let me know!