What's your theme for 2014?

The New Year offers a reset button to re-imagine who you might become and what you might accomplish. There’s no shortage of good advice written this time of year on how to set resolutions, turn goals into habits, and hold yourself accountable. Instead, I’d like to suggest choosing one theme that will define your upcoming year. For instance, what if you were to Dare Greatly this year? What could you do this year that would exemplify this theme? Maybe you want to take the initiative at work and start a new project. Perhaps you’ve been hesitant about submitting your work for publication. 2014theme A recent Forbes article noted that it can take 9.5 weeks to form a habit. With this statistic in mind, take one key way that you could live out your theme in 2014. Let’s use Dare Greatly as the theme and get published as one goal under that theme. Now turn that goal into one action that you can do every day for 9.5 weeks. For instance, you can write for 30 minutes every day. At the end of those 66 days you should have enough material to piece together for submission. Since you have about 10 weeks to turn each goal into a habit, you can work on 5 actions throughout the year. Rather than starting everything at the same time, which ensures waning commitment, take the long view. Start with just one goal per 10 weeks. By having a theme of the year, you can base all of your goals and action steps on that theme, making them more cohesive and more motivating to follow as they build on each other. Once 10 weeks is complete, you can either move to another goal or chose another action step towards a previous goal. So in our example, you would start by writing every day for 10 weeks. At the end of that time, you could chose another action step towards getting published. You could decide to publish a blog post every day for the next 10 weeks. Or you could pick another Dare Greatly goal that is unrelated, such as run a half marathon. You’d then pick an action step for that goal, such as workout for 30 minutes every day. It’s not as much how you work towards your theme that is important. Instead, it’s using momentum to live into all of your potential. Before getting bogged down with the details and logistics, focus on this question: What one theme do you want to describe this year?  

Personality & Leadership: How to Determine your Temperament

If you know your Myers-Briggs results, then temperaments are a quick way to understand your own and others’ leadership styles by paying attention to 2 of the personality categories, rather than 4. How to determine your temperament:
  1. The first key to determining temperament is knowing whether you are an S (Sensing) or an N (iNtution). These two letters are most important for understanding how you lead and react to situations. This category has to do with how you take in information. Sensing or Intuition is the first part because the difference in how people gather information about the world is the starting point of most interactions with others. In order to communicate well, you need to know how people gather information, whether through big picture thinking and a future-orientation (Intuition) or through a detailed focus on the here and now (Sensing). In order to make decisions, you need to know how you and others get the information to make those decisions.
  2. If you are Sensing, then you prefer to gather information in a concrete, realistic, practical way. So the next letter you would look to is whether you are a J (Judging) or P (Perceiving) because you want to know what you do with the data that you’ve gathered.
    1. If you are an SJ then you prefer to organize the data you have gathered.
    2. If you’re an SP then you prefer to seek more information after gathering data.
  3. If instead you are Intuition, then you prefer conceptual and abstract (i.e. big picture) ways to gather data. So the second category of most importance is to determine how you prefer to evaluate the data that you’ve gathered. Do you evaluate it through a T (Thinking) or F (Feeling) approach?
    1. If you are an NT, then you evaluate the data objectively, taking a logical approach.
    2. If you are an NF, then you evaluate the data subjectively, taking others’ views into account.
The Four Temperaments

The Four Temperaments (copyright Student Launch Pad)

Therefore the 4 Temperaments are:

SJ – Guardians

SP – Artisans

NF – Idealists 

NT – Rationals

Each temperament is associated with a different leadership style, summed up below:

SJ

  • Their information-gathering process is practical and realistic (sensing) to which they prefer to give organization and structure (judging)
  • Called Guardians or The Company People because they see power in the structure, hierarchy, and traditions of their organizations and work teams
SP
  • Their data collection process is practical and realistic (sensing) to which they bring spontaneity and flexibility (perceiving)
  • Known as Artisans or The Troubleshooters because they exercise power by solving problems
NF
  • They look at the world and see possibilities (intuition) and translate those possibilities inter- and intra- personally (feeling)
  • Known as Idealists or The People People because they see power as residing in personal relationships
NT
  • They gather data consisting largely of abstractions and possibilities (intuition) which they filter through their objective decision making process (thinking)
  • Known as Rationals or The Competency Strivers because they see power in being competent
  What is your temperament and leadership style?

College Essay: The Personal Statement in 4 Steps

During my college essay workshop at a local public high school, I asked the students which essay was the hardest for them to write. They chose the Personal Statement, which essentially states, “Tell us about yourself.” I had the students brainstorm something unique about themselves that they would want an admissions officer to know and that wouldn’t be included anywhere else in their application.
 
The students came up with creative answers, such as being future-oriented and wanting to make ideas come to life. After each of their answers, I asked, “Why is that important to who you are? Why do you want a college to know this about yourself?” For all students, it’s important to investigate deeper into what you want others to know about yourself. A well thought out response will show that you’ve taken time to think rather than giving a broad statement.
 
For instance, one student said that he wanted to write about how he liked thinking about the future. When I asked him why this was important for his essay, he said that he wants to make things happen now that others say will come about in the future. His philosophy is, “Why wait for someone else to do it?” Digging into the why revealed a meaningful essay topic. Colleges would be interested to hear about his motivation for pushing boundaries and not settling for the status quo.
 
I then asked this student what originally made him interested in the future. He answered that the movie Iron Man inspired him to think about all of the possibilities for the future that he could start bringing about now.
 
Using this topic, I had all of the workshop participants practice writing a hook: a catchy opening that would draw readers into the essay.
 
Students brainstormed using a quote or a scene from the movie Iron Man. One idea was to begin: “The credits rolled and my popcorn was gone, but my passion for the future had just begun.”
 
The students enjoyed brainstorming creative ways to start the essay and saw that they could use this same process to make their own Personal Statements stand out.
personal statement
Here are the four steps for mastering your Personal Statement:
  1. What is something unique about yourself that you want an admissions officer to know and that won’t be included anywhere else in your application?
  2. Why is that important to who you are? Why do you want a college to know this about yourself? Keep asking yourself “why” after each answer until you arrive at the core.
  3. What originally triggered this unique thing about you?
  4. Brainstorm creative openings that start your story on an intriguing note.

Top 10 College Essay Tips

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a college essay writing workshop for the local public high school. During the workshop, I went over the following essay tips on how to write an outstanding application essay: Top 10 Essay tips

College Essay Tips

Why the essay matters:
  • It gives you the chance to stand out apart from your grades, SAT or ACT scores, and extracurricular activities.
What colleges are looking for: How to write an excellent essay:
  • Display your broader passions, but showcase your specific strengths.
  • SHOW don’t tell.
  • Write in your own voice and keep the essay focused and personal. Don’t write what you think colleges want to hear.
  • Introduction: Start with a hook. Body paragraphs: Stay focused to the main point and be specific with examples. Conclusion: End with a hook. What did you learn about yourself; how does this relate to your future?
  • PROOFREAD!
Student Takeaways
Students were surprised that admission officers would rather hear the student’s voice come through an essay rather than writing in  the strict essay form taught in school. Although correct grammar and spelling are a must, students enjoyed being able to tell a story about themselves rather than write purely for academic purposes. Here were some of the students’ main takeaways from the workshop:
  • Use your own voice in the essay.
  • When you read the essay aloud it should sound like you’re telling a captivating story about yourself.
  • Try writing several different versions of the essay with different openings or closings. Have your friends and family read them and tell you which one they thought was the most compelling read.
  • Don’t list out a lot of different examples and stories throughout your essay. You have a limited word count. Instead it’s more powerful to stick to one main theme or story that encapsulates the broader points that you want to communicate about yourself.

Interviewing with EQ: Relational Management Part II

EQ workshop logo Student Launch Pad is teaming up with The EQ Workshop to bring you a four-part series of articles on how to interview with emotional intelligence. The EQ Workshop gives participants an understanding of Emotional Intelligence that will prepare them to increase their EQ including skills like emotional self-awareness, conflict resolution and understanding different personality types. This final article in the Interviewing with EQ series will cover the remaining tips on how to demonstrate relational management in an interview. If you missed it, be sure to read Relational Management Part I first.

Relational Management Part II:

As a review, relational management is your ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships. You demonstrate this capacity in an interview through clear communication, your leadership capabilities, and conflict management skills. Here are some final ways to show your people skills during an interview: • Be a leader.
For the most part, employers will want to hire someone who can take the initiative on projects, lead a group of diverse people, and manage change.
You cannot display these leadership qualities in an interview without actual leadership experience. So first, whatever company or school you are currently in, find a way to take the lead on a project. Regardless of whether you are assigned a specific leadership role, take the initiative to uncover a problem and lead the implementation of a solution. Taking this initiative provides practice for communicating your vision and shows your passion in an interview. It also demonstrates your ability to rally a group of people who aren’t formally assigned to the project, which shows the interviewer your ability to be a catalyst for change and an inspirational leader. Leadership also gives you practice managing a group of diverse people, which is another relational management component that interviewers look for in a candidate. Collaborating with others in different departments or areas of focus and of different backgrounds or ethnicities shows that you can effectively work with others toward a common goal.
thank you note

Writing an excellent thank you note is a key skill for relational management after the interview.

• Manage conflict. Thriving companies know how to engage in healthy conflict. Their employees can discuss disagreements with managers in order to find the best solution to problems, and co-workers can disagree respectfully when everyone’s primary goal is the organization’s mission. Before going into an interview, be sure that you’ve had experience in resolving controversies, whether people-issues or work-related problems.
Conflict management involves listening to the other side and seeking to understand before trying to be understood.
It then incorporates your communication skills to clarify your point-of-view. Negotiation techniques or other problem-solving methods are then employed to resolve the disagreement. You’ll likely be asked in an interview to describe a recent conflict or difficulty that you navigated. In some cases, you’ll be asked to respond to a case study that involves a conflict. Either of these questions gives you the chance to show how you effectively manage conflict. • Follow-up with a thank you note that stands out. Part of relational management includes maintaining relationships. One way to do this after the interview is to send a personal thank you note. In addition to sending a thank you email, you should always send a handwritten thank you note to everyone that interviewed you. In this note you should hit on key points that you learned about the company, and thank the interviewer for their time. You also want to mention something that will make you stand out.
Your note should include something that brings to the interviewer’s mind who you are, such as a specific conversation that you had.
With several to hundreds of other people interviewing for your same position, including these details in the thank you letter will trigger their memory of your interview. For instance, you could write, “I really enjoyed our conversation about traveling to South America. Your experience gives me a new perspective on my international volunteer work with orphans.” Including a specific conversation such as this example will help the interviewer remember something unique that you have to offer. • Be intentional about adding value for others. Another part of maintaining relationships is building a lasting bond and cultivating a meaningful relationship. In the interim between sending your thank you note and waiting to hear back from the company about their decision, you can send the interviewer an article on a topic that you discussed in the interview or a resource that fits into the company’s strategy.
Seek to add value for others, instead of only searching for what’s in it for you.
Whether you are offered the job or not, this principle of adding value is important. If you want another opportunity to interview at the company or you are networking throughout your job search, find ways to continue meaningful conversations. Your intentionality could be the extra step in the decision process or what brings your name to mind when a new job position opens up.   One last point, remember that all aspects of Emotional Intelligence are important not only to a successful interview but also to your overall career success. Throughout this Interviewing with EQ series, if one area stood out that is more difficult for you than others, spend time trying to intentionally develop that aspect of your EQ. Having someone hold you accountable and help you set actionable goals around that area can be a helpful resource.

Interviewing with EQ Part IV: Relational Management

EQ workshop logoStudent Launch Pad is teaming up with The EQ Workshop to bring you a four-part series of articles on how to interview with emotional intelligence. The EQ Workshop gives participants an understanding of Emotional Intelligence that will prepare them to increase their EQ including skills like emotional self-awareness, conflict resolution and understanding different personality types. The final component of emotional awareness is managing your relationship with others. In case you missed the first three posts of this Interviewing with EQ series, take a look at: Part I: Self-Awareness Part II: Self-Management Part III: Social Awareness

Part IV: Relational Management

Relational management is your ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships. You demonstrate this capacity in an interview through clear communication, your leadership capabilities, and conflict management skills. Relational management is critical to your career success because people skills (“soft skills”) are much more difficult to teach an employee than the specific, hard skills that are required for a job. Employers are looking for indicators of social skills to know that a future hire will be able to understand and communicate well with others inside and outside of the company. Therefore, this final article of the Interviewing with EQ series is broken down into two parts because of the importance attributed to relational management during interviews.             Relational Management Part I             Here are specific ways to showcase your social skills in an interview:
  • Be courteous to everyone that you meet.
You never know whom you will meet during an interview. The person riding the elevator with you might just been an executive at the company, or the person holding the door for you might be your next interviewer. The point is to be courteous and build rapport with everyone you encounter during the interview.
For example, one CEO informed me that he tells the receptionist ahead of time when someone is coming in for an interview. He then asks her to take notes on the interviewee’s behavior.
How the person interacts with the receptionist is very telling about their desire to engage with others. Are they personable and friendly or do they immediately sit down and stare at their iPhone? You can find out a lot about somebody through this dynamic, so be courteous and friendly, and put your phone away.
  • Communicate effectively.
When the interviewer asks you a question, be sure to give a direct response and to actually answer the question.
This statement may seem obvious, but it can be easy to begin telling a story about yourself and forget to bring it back around to the specific question. At the end of every example, sum up your answer with how it relates to the question that was asked. You can also use good communication principles while giving examples of your previous work experience. For instance, if you are asked, “Tell me about your last job,” don’t just answer with your job title and role. Instead, tell a story that best encapsulates your day-to-day responsibilities and leadership.
  • Ask good questions.
Part of communicating effectively is asking good questions in the interview. When you’re asked at the end of the interview, “Do you have any questions?” you want to have well-developed questions in mind. By not asking any questions – or asking the wrong questions – you will end the interview on a less than favorable note.
In addition to bringing your resume to an interview, you should also write down some questions you want to ask. Taking notes during the interview, when done tactfully and not in a distracting way, also shows that you're serious about the job.

In addition to bringing your resume to an interview, you should also write down some questions you want to ask. Taking notes during the interview, when done tactfully and not in a distracting way, also shows that you’re serious about the job.

Interviewers say that they can tell a lot about a job candidate by the questions that they ask. So, what type of questions should you ask? Here are some examples:
  • “What qualities are you looking for in the person you are wanting to hire?”
  • Questions about the company, specific projects mentioned during the interview, or how the organization is structured will help you better understand the job position.
  • “What is your favorite thing about the company?”
  • “What does it take for a person in your organization to move up in the company or to become a leader/manager/partner (i.e. whatever you aspire to)?”
Here are questions that interviewers say never to ask in the interview:
  • “How much vacation time do employees get?”
  • “How did I do in this interview?”
Both of these questions are inappropriate to ask until after you have been notified of the job decision. Asking about salary, vacation time, benefits etc. during the interview shows that you are looking for a job not a career. Asking for feedback on the spot puts the interviewer in an uncomfortable position. Save these questions for when it is a more appropriate time to address them and be sure to ask tactfully. Check back for Part II of Relational Management to read the remaining tips for demonstrating good social skills in an interview. 

Interviewing with EQ Part III: Social Awareness

EQ workshop logoStudent Launch Pad is teaming up with The EQ Workshop to bring you a four-part series of articles on how to interview with emotional intelligence. The EQ Workshop gives participants an understanding of Emotional Intelligence that will prepare them to increase their EQ including skills like emotional self-awareness, conflict resolution and understanding different personality types. So far in this Interviewing with EQ series, we’ve discussed how to incorporate self-awareness and self-management into interviews. The third and fourth components of emotional intelligence shift to cultivating your awareness of and relationship with others.              Part III: Social Awareness This post will focus on social awareness, which encompasses your understanding of organizational needs, such as the power dynamics at play, and your ability to recognize the emotional cues of individuals or groups. How do you understand the point-of-view of the company you are applying to, and more specifically, of your interviewer?
  • First, research the organization by conducting a SWOT analysis.
When you are serious about wanting to work at an organization, conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis of the company will prepare you to approach the interview well-informed. Strengths and weaknesses refer to how the company internally operates, whereas opportunities and threats relate to external factors. Understanding the organization’s competitive advantage as well as areas for growth gives you a snapshot of the interplay between its people, systems, politics, and culture. This knowledge will prepare you to give well-informed answers to interview questions. Giving specific answers will show that you “did your homework” for the interview.

SWOT analysis

  • Anticipate the company’s needs and areas of growth.
Conducting a SWOT Analysis will also set you up to ask astute questions about the company. Based on your SWOT Analysis and a broader understanding of the field or industry, you will be able to infer strategic areas of growth for the organization. Throughout the interview, show your awareness of these growth points and how you are the best fit for their needs.
  • Get a feel for the people dynamics and company politics.
Part of social awareness is developing an understanding of the political sphere in an organization.
    • How does work actually get done?
    • Regardless of what is touted, are employees collaborative or competitive?
Understanding the company protocol – and if it is actually followed – is important to recognizing if you’d be a good fit. Asking questions about the people dynamics probably won’t be effective for gaining an accurate picture. Instead, ask questions that would reveal how work gets done. An example of this could be, “Could you explain a recent team project and how it was completed?” Also be observant as you walk around the organization. You can pick up a lot about the power relationships by how employees talk to each other and the emotional climate in the workplace.
  • Develop an understanding of others.
The more you can empathize and understand where someone else is coming from, the better able you’ll be able to manage your response and the signals that you send. It’s important for others to know that you understand them – and this applies for interviewers too. If they are sharing their background or how they’ve risen through the company, truly listen. Don’t formulate your next question or be thinking about how you can jump in and share something about yourself that relates. Rather, respond by following up on something they said that evoked emotion, such as a sense of accomplishment or a difficult situation they navigated.
An interview is not just for the company to screen you. Approach it more as a conversation where you can get a sense for the company, what team you’d be working with, and the management style of your potential boss.
    • What is it that they are looking for in a new hire? If the interviewer is vague about a part of the job, ask follow-up questions. The interviewer will appreciate that you are intentional about learning about the company and finding a good fit.
    • Also try to read between what is explicitly stated. What does the interviewer really need and want for this position?
If you ask questions that pick up on these unstated assumptions, you’ll show your ability to understand implicit needs. For instance, a follow-up question could be, “From your explanation of the team and workload, it sounds like you are looking for someone who’s not afraid to dive into the nitty-gritty details; is this correct?”
  • Pay attention to cues from the interviewer.
You shouldn’t just pay attention to your own body language in an interview; you also want to gauge how the interviewer responds through nonverbal cues.I often tell my students that they should mirror the interviewer’s body language.
    • Is the interviewer to the point and serious? Then don’t add unnecessary details to your responses.
    • Is your interviewer passionate about the company? Then show your enthusiasm for the industry and how you hope to contribute your personal strengths to the job.
For instance, if the company culture is on the informal side, you’ll come off as stuffy if you’re prim-and-proper in the interview. If it’s highly professional, then details like a dry-cleaned suit will be noted.
This advice doesn’t mean that you can’t be yourself. Instead, be the best version of yourself and present yourself in the most appropriate light.
  Be sure to check back for the final post in this series on how to use relational management during the interview process.    

Empathy Underdeveloped in Teenage Boys

New research has emerged showing that teenage boys’ empathy levels ebb and flow during their adolescent years. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal explains:
“‘Cognitive empathy,’ or the mental ability to take others’ perspective, begins rising steadily in girls at age 13, according to a six-year study published recently in Developmental Psychology. But boys don’t begin until age 15 to show gains in perspective-taking, which helps in problem-solving and avoiding conflict. Adolescent males actually show a temporary decline, between ages 13 and 16, in a related skill—affective empathy, or the ability to recognize and respond to others’ feelings.”
The teenage brain continues to change, especially in developing critical social skills. Whereas girls’ affective empathy is stable and high during their teenage years, boys’ don’t regain this sensitivity until late adolescence. What I found fascinating is that in my work with high school students, empathy was the second highest most prevalent strength on their StrengthsFinder results. Since I last published these strengths statistics, the top strengths have slightly changed to reflect the following:
  1. Adaptability (39% of high school students had it as a top 5 strength)
  2. Empathy (34% had it in their top 5 strengths)
  3. Futuristic (32% had it in their top 5 strengths)
  4. Relator (29% had it in their top 5 strengths)
  5. Strategic (27% had it in their top 5 strengths)
Since this past May, the prevalence of adaptability and empathy has increased in high school students going through the Student Launch Pad program. This new research on empathy compelled me to look at the difference between the genders in these strengths. The results are very interesting in light of the research: HS students pics 1. Adaptability
  • 37% of female high school students had it as a top 5 strength
  • 43% of male high school students had it as a top 5 strength
2. Empathy
  • 41% of female high school students had it as a top 5 strength
  • 21% of male high school students had it as a top 5 strength
3. Futuristic
  • 30% of female high school students had it as a top 5 strength
  • 36% of male high school students had it as a top 5 strength
4. Relator
  • 41% of female high school students had it as a top 5 strength
  • 7% of male high school students had it as a top 5 strength
5. Strategic
  • 26% of female high school students had it as a top 5 strength
  • 29% of male high school students had it as a top 5 strength
What these numbers show is the 41% of high school females had empathy and relator as a top 5 strength, whereas only 21% and 7%, respectively, of high school males had these in their top 5 strengths. These strengths are defined by StrengthsFinder as:
“People exceptionally talented in the Empathy theme can sense other people’s feelings by imagining themselves in others’ lives or situations.” “People exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.”
According to the research, three years later than girls, boy’s affective empathy catches up with girls.
However, by this time is it too late to cultivate empathy as male strength?
Sue Shellenbarger, author of the “Teenagers Are Still Developing Empathy Skills” article reports that there is intense social pressure for teenage males to “act like a man.” As a result, boys often feel that they have to repress empathy. So for those males who had empathy as a top 5 strength, are we providing ways for them to express this strength? Are strengths like relator and empathy unrealized in some high school boys because there’s not an easy outlet for them to develop this strength? Research shows that parents can develop empathy in their children by being empathetic themselves. And for boys, their father’s empathy and support is especially important. How can we as a culture model empathy and encourage teenage boys to be empathetic to their peers? How can we recognize teenage boys that display signs of empathy and help them to develop that strength in the adolescent years? This post merely raises questions, but I think they’re important ones to think about as Generation Y enters into adulthood.

Interviewing with EQ Part II: Self-Management

  EQ workshop logoStudent Launch Pad is teaming up with The EQ Workshop to bring you a four-part series of articles on how to interview with emotional intelligence. The EQ Workshop gives participants an understanding of Emotional Intelligence that will prepare them to increase their EQ including skills like emotional self-awareness, conflict resolution and understanding different personality types. Interviewing with Emotional Intelligence In the first post of this Interviewing with Emotional Intelligence (EQ) series, we focused on self-awareness, the ability to recognize your emotions and thoughts, and to exhibit confidence in your strengths and abilities.

Part II: Self-Management

The second part of your EQ is self-management, which naturally builds on self-awareness. Once you understand your thoughts, emotions, and actions, managing them is the next step. This skill is critical to interviewing because you must respond to various situations that the interview presents, such as analyzing case studies or answering difficult questions. In addition to controlling your behavior and emotions, self-management also involves being adaptable, taking responsibility for your performance, demonstrating integrity, and being innovative and optimistic. Interviewers look for all of these characteristics in a potential new hire.

Here are ways to demonstrate and use self-management in interviews:

  • Make corrections based on your practice interviews.
As discussed in the previous article as a self-awareness technique, conduct practice interviews with a close friend, colleague, or professor in order to understand your natural posture, responses, and mannerisms in an interview. From the feedback you receive, as well as self-evaluation, utilize self-management to make the necessary corrections. Continue the process of practicing and correcting until you feel comfortable with managing your body language, tone of voice, and mannerisms in an interview.
Do you react or respond to situations?

Do you react or respond to situations?

  • Practice controlling your emotions.
In addition to correcting your body language, you want to also practice managing your emotions for the interview.
    • When something at work doesn’t go your way, whether it’s an angry voicemail or a coworker you can’t rely on, how do you respond?
    • Or, does what’s happening in your personal life affect how you act at work?
Oftentimes, in these situations, we react to adverse situations rather than respond. Reacting is most natural because it gives into our immediate emotions. Responding requires you to act against your emotions and make a rational and intentional response to the situation. In other words, it requires self-management. Practicing interviews ahead of time will allow you to prepare for managing your nervousness or natural reactions in interview settings. Interviewers will also want to test how you respond to various types of situations to try to gauge how you respond in the workplace. Managing your emotions and being adaptable – the next tip – will both prove beneficial.
  • Demonstrate your adaptability.
You won’t be able to prepare for everything that occurs when it comes time for the actual interview. Instead, practice adapting so that you are ready for whatever the interviewer throws at you.
    • In your daily life, notice how you respond to adverse, uncomfortable, or different situations from the norm.
    • In changing circumstances can you remain patient even when it’s frustrating?
    • Consciously put yourself in different situations and practice responding rather than reacting.
Interviewers want to know that a future hire will be able to adjust and make changes as new situations arise. Demonstrate your ability to do just that not only by speaking about specific examples of your past adaptability, but also through how you handle yourself in the interview. When part of the interview goes off script, such as an unexpected group or panel interview, or you are required to analyze a case on the spot or complete a work simulation exercise, remain in control of your initial, impulsive feelings about the situation. Show that you can adapt to unexpected, changing situations by using clear thinking, remaining calm, not showing stress on your face, and having innovative, creative ideas.
Take this example from Barry Rush, a founder of The EQ Workshop: “I was sitting in on an interview over lunch, and we were interviewing a young guy in his 20’s who is normally cool, friendly, and able to fit into every situation. During the interview, he reached over for the salt and knocked over his glass of tea. We watched him try to recover, get a laugh with all of us, but turn beet red in the process. You just need to be ready for anything!”
Showing that you can take unanticipated turns of events in stride – and be able to laugh at yourself or not take yourself too seriously when a faux pas happens – also demonstrates your adaptability.
  • Be transparent, yet maintain integrity and optimism.
If you are currently working, then you’re applying for a new job for a reason. The interviewer is bound to ask you why you want a change. Regardless of how negative your work situation might be, manage your emotions and speak with integrity about your current employer. However, this does not mean that you cannot be honest. Practice your response ahead of time so you can answer with tactful transparency.
    • How can you communicate that your current job is not a good fit for you without throwing your employer under the bus?
This principle is the same for any negative situation that the interviewer asks about, whether at school or an internship. Even if you are in or have experienced a difficult situation, remaining optimistic and maintaining integrity will show your self-management in the face of adversity.
  • Maintain motivation and take the initiative.  
It’s often said that applying to jobs is a full-time job. It can be discouraging when you’ve had several interviews that haven’t led to job offers. Part of self-management is the ability to stay motivated. Motivating yourself towards a goal requires commitment and optimism. Are you willing to constantly strive toward your goal and pursue it even in the face of setbacks? It is natural to feel discouraged, disappointed, or even anxious or depressed during a long job search. Although these emotions will happen, you have influence over how long they last and how you allow them to impact your behavior. By staying focused on your goals, learning from every obstacle, and finding positive takeaways throughout the job search, you can remain motivated toward achieving your goal. Part of your motivation will also stem from taking the initiative to respond to opportunities that arise. When you have the discipline to stay focused on your goal, you’ll be better able to see opportunities on the horizon.   Be sure to check back in for the third post in the series on using social awareness in interview settings.  

Finding Meaning in Self-Knowledge

Jonathan Fields, founder of Good Life Project, traveled the world for a year and a half, interviewing people from various fields. In an interview for 99U, he said that he discovered the following:
“…Fundamentally everything starts with a deeper sense of self-knowledge that so many people want to skip past… How do you find out what those things are that are meaningful to you… without actually knowing a bit about yourself?”
The people that Fields interviewed all over the world who found the most meaningful work had a self-knowledge that most shy away from discovering. However, what Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School, says in this same interview is telling:
“Self-knowledge is critical… Understanding what really drives you in your work, what really gives you satisfaction and then trying to find some way each day to protect at least a little bit of time to do that kind of work can lead to tremendous satisfaction.”
reflection journal

Take time at the end of the day to reflect on what parts were most meaningful – however small.

This “tremendous satisfaction” comes from trying to do small things everyday that contribute to something that matters to you. If you reflect at the end of each day on what parts of the day were most meaningful – however small – you will start to notice patterns about yourself and your passions. Fields says,
“What is kind of interesting to me… is that a part of getting to know yourself is actually doing all of those little things and then seeing which of them actually give you that response… maybe without even knowing that you’d feel that way. But then looking at that and saying, ‘Oh that’s kind of interesting, how fascinating that I responded so viscerally to something so small. What does that teach me about myself?'”
If you can understand enough about yourself to know what matters to you and what ignites your passions, then you can intentionally find ways to integrate these things into your every day. The amount of meaningful work that you accomplish every day does not matter. It’s about the consistency. “Meaningfulness infuses everything,” says Amabile. And when you start to do all of these little, but meaningful, things every day, you in turn learn more about yourself in the process. Self-knowledge and meaningfulness are a circular relationship. Deeper self-knowledge fuels meaningful work, which then produces more self-awareness.