During an interview, a candidate is usually “drilled” with multiple questions! Questions that involve your responsibilities in your current work place, your previous employment(s) and HR questions including “positive” questions (your strengths, learning’s and wins etc) as well as your “negative” questions (What are you weaknesses, have you worked with difficult people etc).
All in all a candidate is being asked these questions so that their potential employer can get a reasonably solid understanding of the candidates abilities, in a very short space of time!
But have you ever wondered how these questions could also relate to our life in general? As in…the interview tips and techniques can potentially assist us in our personal (non-work) day to day lives?
Let’s break this down! Usually we need to always consider the following:
When you dress to impress and arrive before time, it leaves a great impression. It’s always advised that during the interview to have a positive body language - stay engaged in the conversation and avoid looking around in the room, being upbeat, focused, confident, maintain eye-contact and smile. Be well prepared for the interview and expect to receive “positive” as well as “negative” questions – some questions being unexpected! Finally – feel free to ask questions.
In our early years as a child, when we start going to school we learn exactly the above from our teachers and parents/guardians– though it looks and sounds different. In most cases we usually wear school uniforms (or dress appropriately to attend School) and we always aim to arrive before the classes start. We’ve always been advised by our parents/guardians to concentrate in class, ask questions and be focused and engaged etc. As we get slightly older, the playground teaches most of us a lot of things…both expected and unexpected, and during test/exam times, we prepare as much as we can, but then we also learn as time goes on to expect the unexpected questions, and to be able to think on the spot…almost as if it’s preparing us for our future!
As we get older and continue our lives, depending on our environment/friends, naturally changes occur in our behavior. Generally most of us continue with this discipline…which then extends out to other parts of our lifestyle including attending personal functions, family/friend gatherings, a parties, ceremonies etc.
So – where is the article going…what is it trying to highlight!
Answer – Upon reflection, you will notice that the experiences gained in the past from either our personal or work/business life are actually inter-connected with each other!
Like always, the “positive” related questions always feel easier to answer (and to give examples to) then the “negative” questions which always seem tricky! However, these so called “negative” questions are really just asking you what areas you need to improve on…correct? So, shouldn’t you know what areas you need to improve on?
Below is a good simple video that talks about and gives example on how to answer these “negative” questions
Like the video states, if you don’t know your weakness, you don’t know your strengths! No one is perfect, and life is all about learning. Through self-reflection/analysis, once you know the areas that you need to improve on (and if you genuinely want to improve on them) you will take the relevant steps and actions.
Highlighting areas that you want to improve on, as well as articulating the steps/actions you are taking to help yourself, definitely leaves a positive impression! The video also states that when answering the negative questions it’s best to be truthful and authentic. Be genuine!
Being positive and therefore confident with the above, even when you receive unexpected questions during the interview –naturally you handle them well.
Therefore – have an open mind and be ready for anything that comes your way…(sound familiar?)Though these are interview tips, they are relevant to our day to day personal lives. If you reflect now on your personal life – is there something that you need to improve on and if so – what are you doing to improve it? What actions are you taking?
Once you know your weaknesses, you will also know your strengths – enabling you to be a more positive, confident person – both in your professional life, as well as your personal!
What seems to be an obstacle could well be an opportunity for you!
Hence the take home message here is – whether it’s work or personal – interview or non interview – everything is a learning experience and it’s all about turning the negative into a positive – no matter the situation! No ones perfect – it’s a life-long learning and self-improving journey.
As time goes on, usually our career destination is to take on higher responsibilities mainly involving leadership/management. Some of us decide to take that on, whereas others prefer not to.
I recently caught up with a candidate who is now in the management space, but previously was a software developer. This candidate was referred (and recommended) to me by someone I know very well for many years.
The candidate’s story was wonderful to listen to! For him, life’s a journey - you are always learning, trying new things, and earning respect!
He continued to state “It comes with your “highs” and your “lows”, but it’s all about how you embrace it!”
When this candidate was given the opportunity to take on a management position for the first time (and therefore in that transition phase in his career) a number of years back, he decided to take on the new opportunity. Though he was “comfortable” and respected by his colleagues as a developer, he had never officially managed staff before (of course being a senior developer he had mentored staff). He felt he was ready and this would be a great move for his career.
“I totally misjudged the role and responsibility!” The candidate continued to say that at that time the company was going through massive internal changes, and he was thrown in the deep end! With very little guidance he was doing his best, unfortunately though his colleagues who had respected him previously started seeing him differently – that is, he was no longer one of them! During this time, projects weren’t being delivered on time, felt the team wasn’t respecting him, and upper management was not happy. He was going downhill on a Slippery Slope of Failures!
He started feeling mentally and emotionally drained and was almost ready to give up…but something inside of him wanted to make this work!
One day as he was attending a work function, given the current circumstances and mindset, he was trying to keep to himself, but was approached by a senior individual. “It was the best thing that ever happened, and now he is my mentor.” The senior individual had a wealth of experience in management and was a NED (Non-Executive Director) in various companies.
Without going into lots of details – this senior individual gave him plenty of advice that day, but the two things that he acted on immediately was all about Team Building, and earning respect as a manager. He reflected on himself and realised that there were 3 definite areas he needed to work/improve on. These were around Focus, Self-Management, and Communication.
The candidate wrapped it up by saying once he improved on these 3 main areas, things started changing. Since then, obviously, there have been many areas he has improved on, undergone various training and successfully delivered many projects and many different teams. He stressed though that he has learnt a lot from many failures (“Its never been smooth sailing, but you got to keep going!”) and based on the journey and from these experiences – he has had many wins, and glad he took the step into management! “But, it’s always been an on-going process in terms of self-reflection, particularly on those 3 areas, which I now call my Alert Calls”.
I’m sure some of us can relate to this story, whether it’s stepping into a management or leadership role and experience new challenges; going through stages of almost giving up because of set-backs but not giving up; or getting advice from someone at the right time! In fact – many well-known personalities (Jack Ma, Dwayne Johnson [also known by “The Rock”], Jim Carrey, and Oprah Winfrey to name a few), have also experienced failures/challenges in their journey, but through persistence, hard work and self-reflection, made a positive mark and became successful in their own right!
Coming back to Team Building, Self-Awareness and the relationship to Focus, Self-Management, and Communication, below is a quick summary:
Alert call#1 Focus
There will always be plenty of tasks/things to get done, so not to shift focus! Remember what’s important and focus on the main business /project goals, and prioritise. If you are clear in your mind what the priorities are and therefore what to focus on, than you will be able to articulate this easily to your team, and motivate them to the common goal!
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” - Zig Ziglar
Alert call#2 Personal or Self-Management
I mentioned above that my candidate started feeling mentally and emotionally drained. Leadership/Management is a tiring game, and there is plenty of research, blogs and articles out there stating the importance and benefits (in leadership) of taking care of the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. It reduces fatigue and stress, enabling us to keep focus. When we have energy and focus, your team will as well!
“Time management is really personal management, life management and management of yourself.” — Brian Tracy
Alert call#3 Communication
"Say what you mean, and mean what you say". It comes back to being focused, knowing your priorities, and then communicating them effectively with the rest of the team. A leader that communicates well is well respected by the team and peers! The quote below sums it up!
"Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can't get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn't even matter." — Gilbert Amelio
So that take home message – Life is a journey! "It comes with your “highs” and your “lows”, but it’s all about how you embrace it!" Think about your own Alert Calls, areas that need constant self-reflection/Self-Awareness and therefore always improvement!
So...what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.
Praneil Raniga | Director of Recruit and Deliver Pty Ltd
email@example.com | 07 3040 9786 | 0430 040 046 | www.recruitanddeliver.com
Praneil Raniga is the Founder and Director of Recruit and Deliver Pty Ltd.Now-a-days, Praneil's main role within Recruit & Deliver is focused around staff management, as well as spearheading the growth of the company. He also continues to be hands-on in search and recruitment..
Gone are the days of IT professionals being known as introverts! Is this true?
Let’s get one thing clear here…is it an issue being an introvert? Of course not! However there are a number of traits or characteristics that define what an introvert is, so which characteristics/trait are we focusing on today?
Can’t say much about the past because it’s gone, and the future we don’t know, but definitely TODAY, it’s safe to say that it’s all about collaboration! And with many businesses now having offices located in different parts of the country (and around the world), it’s becoming even more important.
This isn’t just in the IT/Digital industry, clearly this is the same in any industry. It’s all about collaboration and being able to communicate effectively with each other! However given we specialise only in IT/Digital Recruitment, this article will be mainly focused around this industry.
There are so many channels/forms of communication including the very popular form these days of social media/messengers, WhatsApp, chats etc. All these are widely used in businesses to communicate reasonably effectively with each other, but let’s not forget the traditional Face to Face forms of communication - meetings, stand-ups, talking with your teammates/colleagues and managers (and not just messaging them!!), talking to customers, and presentations to clients and stakeholders!
In short, digital communication is great and widely used, but not the only form of communication. In fact, the Face to Face (and verbal) forms of communication are still critical in majority of businesses to function properly…AND you will agree…the same applies outside of work/business life as well!
“Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.” Paul J. Meyer
This is very evident in the roles we are recruiting for (and has been for many years!), no matter if you are a recent graduate or a senior level IT/Digital Professional – almost all clients are focusing on candidates having excellent communication skills!
Is this ground breaking news for you? PROBABLY NOT! Then why write an article that everyone already knows about. EASY, because many businesses TODAY are still having issues with staff not being able to effectively communicate!!!
So why is this on-going issue…? SIMPLE – we are all different and unique in our own way…which makes us all special!
Will it continuously be an on-going issue…? Probably!!!
For many reasons including our up-bringing, our environment, our friends and family etc, as time goes on and through “experiences” of life, we develop various qualities, traits and characteristics. For this reason – communication skills vary as well from individual to individual. Everyone can communicate, some just better than others!
At the end of the day, though, it is still a SKILL! A SKILL can always be learnt…as long as you want to put in the effort to do so! Hence the choice is really yours! Just imagine, what affect this would have in your life both professionally and personally if you improved this skill? The confidence you would gain in your day to day living!
"Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life." - Brian Tracy
So, given that we live in a very creative, digital world…maybe there are creative ways of improving on this skill, and getting out of our comfort zone!
To start off with, let’s watch a wonderful TED video from few years back that is so relevant for today, which talks about “creative confidence” – Speaker being David Kelly:
In this video it highlights about people going through various past experiences, causing “fear of judgement”. He then continues talking about a well-known psychologist Albert Bandura and his method of “Guided Mastery”, leading to “Self Efficacy”. Basically it’s a step by step process taking people from Fear to Familiarity!
Therefore (going back to this article) to gain the skills of effective communication, we too need to go through a step by step process.
So, rather than making excuses (“Can’t Talk…I’m Busy”) and avoiding conversations (work and personal), or team meetings and stand-ups all because you have a fear about people judging you on what you say, it’s time to improve your skills and gain the confidence to voice your opinions and creative ideas!
"You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged." - Seth Godin
There are plenty of articles in the internet on how we can improve our communication skills, however if we want to be creative, think outside the square, (and remember we want to get out of our comfort zone), how about taking a course on public speaking! Plenty of research shows the benefit of public speaking including gaining self-confidence. There are plenty of options for you to take, including joining a local “Toastmasters International” club.
In conclusion, everyone can communicate, some just better than others, and it’s a skill that can be definitely improved. The choice is yours, and remember:
"The worst speech you'll ever give, will be far better than the one you never give." - Fred Miller
So you've just started out on your long and winding (and exciting) career path as an IT Professional.
Congratulations, we're here to help!
Everyone knows the job landscape has changed radically over the last 30 years or more, with technology infiltrating every profession, and in many case replacing tasks once performed by workers.
Combine this with an expectation that someone now starting the job hunt may have 6 or more careers in their working life, and we find mapping a career path more challenging than ever.
But the best place to start is always at the beginning, and so that shall be the focus of our blog today. People with many years of relevant experience usually find it easier to locate new work, but for those starting out or re-entering the workforce it can be much harder.
You won't necessarily have an extensive work history to display – but there are many other aspects of your life and person which when effectively presented can demonstrate what a great employee you will be!
The famous phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan in the 60's tells us that you can't separate the message from the medium in which it is delivered – will you present the same information the same way in your CV as LinkedIn? Or Facebook – or even Twitter? The medium influences how your message is received, so tailor it for each medium.
Despite increased use of social media as career tools, the humble CV remains the most important instrument in determining if you will get that all important interview.
So you don't have much work history, but what will attract potential employers? Descriptions of study and life experiences that can be easily translated to work skills are important. A non-exhaustive list:
Here we begin to think more about the medium. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, so it is appropriate to replicate much of your CV in your LI profile. In particular, make sure that the Summary at the top is not just a recitation of your skills and what you've done – make it a story about you, portraying to readers the passions and goals you have for your career.
The main area that your LinkedIn profile may differ from your CV is in its specificity, or otherwise – what do you put there if you have multiple CVs, targeting different roles? It depends on your target audience, but when starting out its best to align it with your main career goals.
Be active in groups and discussion related to your industry – as with your CV, this will help communicate your passion and interests to prospective employers.
It's beyond the scope of this blog and probably unnecessary to treat every form of other social media separately, but there are certain points worth making.
For all social media, you must consider your interaction with each medium as intrinsic to your profile – everything you post, like, share or reply to is on display, so ensure that it is appropriate and consistent with your persona.
And don't forget to proofread before posting!! Correct grammar (not grandma) and spelling are not always highly valued in the online world, but will be noted by employers.
In conclusion, your first job will usually be the biggest hurdle you have to overcome and the most important step in your career. Give yourself the best chance of getting that "dream" first role by telling the world about your passions, ambitions and values, and how you will help bring success to your new employer.
Feedback welcome! For those starting out or re-entering the workforce, please share your experiences...
We started this series discussing a couple of topics related to enhancing your work satisfaction and career prospects. Now we turn to an oft-neglected aspect of work-life balance – time out!
The list can go on of course – many people have carer and other responsibilities to pile on top of the other tasks. The question posed today is, where do you find time for yourself in all of this? And what is the cost, personal and professional, for failing to find this time?
The debilitating effects of stress on mind and body have been well studied and the outcomes widely publicized, so won't be discussed in detail here. However we'll use one surprising study to highlight the point.
So, we know for our own well being that we must seek ways to reduce the stress levels caused by work and life, and/or reduce their impact. Part of this naturally involves strategies to reduce the effects of potentially stressful events and situations, for example:
The scope of stress mitigation is way beyond this article (but may be fodder for a future one?). However researchers tell us that one of the greatest stress factors in our lives is not feeling in control, so use of these and other techniques can help to restore that sense of control to our lives. (but see Steve Maraboli's quote below!)
But as well as you may manage stress, the best option sometimes is to get away from it for a while!
It's natural to think about your time outside work as the main avenue for doing things you love (remember all that 4x4 off-roading and karate we mentioned?!), but don't ignore opportunities during the day to release the pressure valve. It can be as simple as getting up from your desk periodically (good for general health as well), or doing something that detaches you from work during your lunch break.
If this isn't for you, then find a quiet spot and read a book, meditate, go to the gym or listen to heavy metal music! Do whatever zones you out for a while, and re-charges the batteries.
In closing, the message is simple but clear – take time out each day to reduce the stress in your life, and your health and happiness will improve. To finish, a comforting thought from Steve Maraboli - “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
Feedback welcome and encouraged! We'd like to hear what you do to de-stress – or strategies for reducing stress in your lives...
The questions posed by today's discussion are, do we prepare ourselves as well as possible to take advantage of opportunities, and are we always as receptive as we should be when opportunities are presented?
The above quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca (or maybe Oprah?!) implies a couple of things – first, luck (good or bad) is not always happenstance, but often results from our thoughts and actions. It also tells us that to maximize our ability to take advantage of opportunities, we must take positive actions to prepare!
The message from wise old Confucius is pretty plain (it could be abbreviated to the 6 Ps but we won't expand on that here!) – but what would this preparation entail? Obviously it depends on your objectives and circumstances:
In your career, the combination of your studies and experience are the bedrock preparation to allow you to consider opportunities – but is that enough? NO!
So, you're trained, experienced, and your personal brand is out there for all to see. Companies and recruiters will beat a path to your door – it's a competitive market. You're ready to swallow those great opportunities sure to come your way! Or are you?
In conclusion, we are not advocating jumping between jobs all the time – this can be counterproductive to a career; however at the same time a successful career and life are built on careful planning and taking advantage of opportunities that further your goals, so don't be deaf when opportunity comes a knockin'!
What are your ideas on this? We love to hear contrary opinions...
The point being though, in most cases the tone of our voice is actually the real answer. People around you will be able to determine if you are in a state of happiness or not. Focusing more on the workplace moving forward, your co-workers will be able to determine if you really want to be at work or not. Even if you tried to hide the “real answer”, the reality is it won’t be hidden from your colleagues.
So why are we talking about this today. What is the purpose of this post?
From a recruitment point of view, it’s an important topic: Self awareness and being positive!
Negativity brings you down in all sorts of ways. In fact the nature of negativity is it actually gets worse and makes you feel more affected by it, breaking your self-esteem, trust and confidence. Issues seem more escalated than they really are, and unfortunately, if another opportunity or “door opens” for you, the likelihood is you won’t recognise it.
Being positive as we all know it, has the opposite effect. Our health is better, we cope better with stress, our days at work generally go quicker, our day to day language becomes more positive, we create relationships and existing relationships improve (both at work and in personal life).
Being positive means we see success in everything, we recognise other opportunities and we believe that “when one door closes another opens”.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.” -Willie Nelson
In most cases our first point of contact with people looking for work is usually through a telephone conversation. Reasonably quickly we are able to determine if the candidate is of a positive or a negative nature at that point of time based on the tone of their voice, not necessarily by their answers provided.
This then leads to us thinking if the candidate is actually suitable for the role, is she/he a “right fit” for the role. If the positiveness is not showing, the drive and enthusiasm is not there, then how will they present during a client interview? Do clients want staff to be positive or negative? The answer of course is positive! The tone of your voice will actually tell us your attitude towards work and life!
There are a few points you may argue about here, but one in particular may be around working in a negative environment.
In this scenario, few questions come up, and these are similar to what we (as in our internal consultants within Recruit & Deliver) ask our candidates:
However, the answers to these questions could be biased as usually if a person is in a negative mindset to begin with, the answers will generally be of a negative nature and to them, others within the company are also feeling the same way!
So then we start asking questions along the lines off:
Usually though by this time, most candidates (not all) who haven’t made too much attempt to work within themselves and therefore their own state of mine and emotional drives have a “light bulb” moment. We usually finish the conversation and encourage them to reflect on our discussions and to get in contact with us again the next day.
Are we potentially letting go of a good candidate?
The other side of this is after the candidate has undergone the process of “self check”, if the candidate is sure about their profession and are happy with the work that they do, when the candidate goes back to their current role and genuinely tries to improve themselves from within and/or attempts to take actions to rectify the situation, things normally change for them for the better.
1. Either they realise that it’s actually not as bad as it seems or;
2. Now that they have tried, their mindset is probably at a better state. So even if it is the environment that’s causing the negativity, internally the candidate will know she/he has done everything to improve the situation...no regrets, just time to move on!
So, before you arrive at work, or take a phone call from a recruitment agent/prospective employer, perform a “self check”. If you’re feeling down, negative, it’s important to bounce back up real quick. There are plenty of articles and posts around about how to be positive and happy (just generally and even at work!) hence we will not go into it in this post.
The journey of “life” as we all know it will have us in different emotional stages and mindsets. We all want to be happy! The purpose of this post was to remind job seekers to always be positive, and therefore always do a “self check” on yourself.
A quote to finish off from Dalai Lama - “Happiness is not something ready made, it comes from your actions.”
What are your thoughts on this? We would love to know...
We are a Brisbane based search and recruitment company specialising in IT (Information Technology) technical, management, digital and sales roles, focusing on both contract and permanent recruitment solutions.