I recently asked some friends their views on interviews and recruitment. They are all senior managers in a variety of businesses with great experience at both interviewing & being interviewed.
They’ve all kindly answered in a personal capacity, so with a quick change of name, allow me to introduce the panel:
Over the next few posts I’ll share their views.
In our interview courses and coaching sessions, we frequently hear people saying that they haven’t got the exact skill set out in a job description so I asked…
“Skills or Attitude - which matters most?”
The panel were unanimous on this one, with Gloria saying "Attitude! There is lots we can teach but we want people who live our values. People who are curious, take care, act courageously and have pride in what we do.”
Mary agrees “Always attitude. There are of course roles where you really need the skills, but not at the cost of attitude.” She adds some advice for interviewers too “But importantly, this isn't the euphemistic 'culture fit' which limits diversity. It's important to recognise the attitude you want doesn't wear the same clothes every time.”
Matt continues that theme “Personally, I go with attitude. Obviously if the job is specialist then a certain skill set needs to be in place but if you are able to offer training to the individual that will mean they can do the role, then if they have that attitude or appetite to learn and you can see they will fit into your team, then they are worth a shot. Some of the best people I’ve employed have had zero experience of the role but they learnt everything we taught them and blossomed as a result becoming great at the job and earning advancement as they progressed.”
Tony is also happy to take that risk “In my view skills are important but attitude is critical! That doesn’t mean that you would employ someone with no base skills for the role but I would much rather take a calculated risk on someone with less skills but a great attitude – that is something you can’t teach someone.” He also offers this advice to any recruiter “ Recruit an attitude, train on skills.”
In further discussion, all of the panel emphasised that not only had their companies recognised the need & invested in training, they were proud of the development they were able to offer.
We’ve all done it. Just after doing something that we’re pretty proud of – like going for a morning run, taking a great photo, deciding to apply for that new job after all – we sit down to reward ourselves with a cup of tea and a cheeky biscuit, and a quick scroll through the social networks.
Before we’ve even had a chance to double-dunk, we notice that someone’s taken an even better photo, oh and look, they’ve just moved into their massive new house, and yep, there he is, been at the gym since 6 am and just set a new PB.
Within seconds you’re regretting having a biscuit, you're a bit disappointed with your photograph and you’re never going to get a job that will pay enough for you to buy a house as nice as that one. The sense of satisfaction you felt before you picked up the phone has gone. And feelings of frustration and anxiety are starting to creep in.
This is an extreme example of course, but it’s not too far removed from what actually happens when we start to compare our achievements to those of others.
The thing is, while you’re focusing on what other people are doing, your time and energy are being sapped away and wasted on thoughts that only take the shine off what you have done well.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
See and feel grateful for what you have
I don’t mean you should start hugging your toaster. What I mean is that it’s impossible to feel happy with what you have and who you are unless you celebrate it. Notice and record what you have, what you’ve done, what was good no matter how small, at the end of each day. It doesn't need to be a long journal that you pour your every thought and feeling into, a list of expanded bullet points work perfectly. The key is to acknowledge what you have and be grateful for it.
Don’t leave it until you need to write a CV to start taking note of what you’re good at.
If self-reflection doesn’t come easily try starting with something broad like - ‘I’m good with numbers’ and then try breaking it down. For example, being good with numbers could mean that you can identify trends in data, which your boss used in the presentation, that convinced his boss to increase the budget, that means… you get the idea. The important thing to realise is that every step of a process is as vital as the next.
So, keep track of everything you do well, big, or small, and when the next opportunity comes you’ve already got the evidence you need.
Also, when you get positive feedback print it out, write it down and feel that. Don’t deflect it.
Be kind to yourself.
Take notice of the language you use when talking and thinking about yourself.
Phrases like ‘I’m such an idiot’ or ‘I’ve always been rubbish at that’ are not helpful and generally not true. Think about how you would feel or respond if you heard someone talking like that to people you care about. You are in charge of your narrative. Make it a good one.
Finally, be aware of influences around you (friends, family, social media, co-workers) and how they affect your outlook and confidence. Learn to recognise when you need a break from those influences – maybe skip drinks with friends this week, mute some people on social media, or get out of the office for a walk at lunchtime. And if that seems like it would be difficult remember that friends will understand, social media probably won’t notice, and there’s fair chance your co-workers feel the same. Take the power back.
Finally, be aware of when is a good time for you to be on social media. Limit your time on there and familiarise yourself with ‘mute, delete, unfollow and block’. If it doesn’t inspire you, entertain you or motivate you then question why you're still scrolling.
Created by Katie Teesdale-Ward
In 1978 Suzanna Imes & Pauline Rose Clance1 published their latest work and the term “Imposter Phenomenon” entered the language. Over time this became the more commonly heard, but perhaps more pejorative, “Imposter Syndrome”, subtly moving the meaning from being something that happens to being something that’s wrong with someone.
So what is it? At its simplest it’s an internal belief that you’re not up to the task, or as good as others think you are. You maybe feel that you’re flying by the seat of your pants, making it up as you go along and it’s only luck that got you this far. One day, you’re certain, you’ll be found out.
In practice this can appear in many different ways and in 2011 Dr Valerie Young2 described five main behavioural types
In the meantime, remember, some level of uncertainty, especially in a new environment, is normal. Thinking about how you’ll do something, needing to learn or making a mistake doesn’t make you an imposter. Asking for help, helps you perform better, it is not a weakness.
1 The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Pauline Rose Clance & Suzanna Imes
2 The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It Dr Valerie Young
3 Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome Ruchika Tulshyan & Jodi-Ann Burey
You’ve got an interview, congratulations – it means the employer likes what they’ve read or seen so far and want to know more about you. Although they can be a bit daunting, here’s a few tips to help you interview to your best.
And, finally, try to remember that the interviewer is a human being too & that at some point they’ll have been in your seat. They know what you’re going through.
The events of the past year have led to many of us re-appraising what we want to do for a living. Whilst for most the need to find something new is not from choice, it still gives an opportunity to think again about what is wanted from a job.
Whenever I’ve been asked for advice by people looking for a new role, I’ve suggested stepping back from saying “I want to be a...” and instead think about what the role contains rather than what the job is called.
To start, think about the things that interest, excite and motivate you. They don’t have to be work related; they just need to be the things that get you out of bed in the morning. Our CV writing course can help you discover these likes and dislikes.
That is the easy bit, but then you need to think about why and sometimes you need to ask why a few times until you get to the underlying reason.
I like talking to customers. Why?
I like it when they ask for help with a problem. Why?
I like the personal challenge to fix things.
It may take more than one “why”, but it shouldn’t take more than five (“The Five Whys” is the subject for another time!) You should end up with a list of the things that make you tick, and you’d want to form the core of any role.
Next think about the tasks that turn you off. You don’t need so much analysis here but try and divide them into two lists;
1) The things you’d avoid because you’re not very good at but would like to learn.
2) The things you’d avoid because no matter how good you might be, you just don’t want to do them.
Armed with your three lists, you should look for a role that delivers as much as possible of your first list, a smattering of the second and as little as possible of the third. If you land the job then you’ll be somewhere that interests you, has a core of skills you can already do and the chance to learn more.
It’s maybe true that there is no perfect role, but by focussing on finding one that speaks to your inner being and plays to your best skills then you’re giving yourself the best chance to find it. So, if you’re reconsidering what you want to do, whether by choice or not, why not take the time to find the best fit for you in whatever the post-pandemic world becomes?
For more information and support in this very topic contact the team at Works for Us.
You’ve filled in the application, you’ve sent off the CV, but what happens next?
Usually an employer is going to have many many more applications than they have positions, so the first thing they’ll be doing is a paper sift to get down to the half dozen or so people they’ll actually invite for interview.
So what’s in their mind when they are sifting? Obviously they’ll be wanting someone that actually wants the job and has the skills already, or can demonstrate the ability to learn. But what else do they want? Speaking from experience, I want it to be easy to see those things, I’ve a lot of CV’s to get through!
The personal profile is where it all starts, it needs to sell me the picture of the applicant - what they are, why this job is right for them & why they’re right for the job. Hook me in, but make sure any claims can be backed up later in the document.
From there I’m asking three things when I look at the job history:
written by Ian Nicholson - experienced employer and volunteer for Works for Us.
In 1999 two social psychologists called Dunning & Kruger studied people’s perception of their skills compared to their actual ability. Their initial findings showed that some people often over-estimate their ability as they don’t know enough to know they’re not that good. They then did some further work & found that highly skilled people often under-estimated their strengths; because they thought something was easy they thought everyone would find it easy & therefore discounted their own ability.
Why’s that last bit important?
Because often when we’re at work we can all lose sight of the skills we have when we just consider it “stuff that we do” - we stop realising we’re good at something just because we find it easy. Most interviewers will ask you to describe times that you’ve shown a skill so it’s important to think again about the what & the how & look harder at what makes you stand out. Are you the one the boss always asks to take on that extra task? Are you that go-to person the rest of the team turns to?
(For a quick video on the Dunning-Kruger effect, take a look at https://youtu.be/pOLmD_WVY-E )
With restrictions on getting together & needing to keep socially distanced, it might seem strange to say that we’re actually a lot closer to everyone than you may think, but that’s the idea behind “Six Degrees of Separation”. The theory was first set out in 1929 and suggests that you can make a link from between any two people in only 6 steps - you know someone that knows someone etc.
Once dismissed as the academic version of an urban myth, the birth of the internet & popularisation of email & messaging apps gave rise to some new research, in particular two studies, one via email & the other via Microsoft Messenger ( as it was called way back when!), that showed that the average number of steps (though not the maximum) was indeed 6.
So what? If you’re looking for work then working your contact list is probably more important now than ever, but the trick is to look beyond the people you immediately know, be confident to ask to speak to that friend of a friend and grow the chain from there. In business people have talked for a long time about building a network & LinkedIn’s model is based on supporting that so in a future piece we’ll give some tips on how best to use the site.