How to Sell Your Action Taker Skills in a Job Interview

Exploring the strengths-based approach for Graduates – Part 1 of 4

 

“So, tell me about yourself…”

This is the question that most graduates dread. Across the country, hearts sink as graduate interviewees ponder where they should begin.

“Well, what are your strengths and weaknesses?” continues your potential future employer.

At this point, it’s hard to contain the groan that’s creeping up your throat. You wonder if you should pretend to have no weaknesses at all. But would that be truthful… or realistic? Perhaps you should have more strengths than weaknesses, if you’re the ideal employee? In the end, you feign a coughing fit to give yourself time to think!

Find your strengths

In this situation, we would recommend taking a STRENGTHS-BASED APPROACH. A strength is a combination of talent, skill and knowledge. You know your strengths because you recognise when you’re functioning at your best. Writers talk of being “in the zone”. The hours pass and they don’t even notice the clock ticking as they hone their creative skills. The same applies to artists, to electricians, to software developers… in fact, to anyone who’s working to their strengths. When you know what your strengths are, you’ll be at your most productive because you’re working from a place where you feel strongest and happiest.

The 4 Strengths Domains

Under the Gallup approach, there are 34 main strengths and they can be categorised into four domains: EXECUTOR, STRATEGIC THINKER, INFLUENCER and RELATIONSHIP BUILDER. Let’s look at EXECUTOR first.

EXECUTORS can’t bear to leave anything undone. They like to be busy and productive! They set goals and make sure they meet them. But sometimes executors need to be careful in case they overstretch themselves and wear themselves out.

Now here is what’s very different about this approach to working to your strengths: there are DIFFERENT types of EXECUTORS.

 

How does your strength differ from another’s?

When you go into a job interview and say, “My strength is that I am an Executor, I like to get things done”, that’s not really going to tell the interviewer anything different from what the next man might tell him. What you need to do is to explain why your type of Executor is different to another person’s. And that’s what the strengths based approach allows you to do.

Here are the different types of ways a person may be an Executor – see which one most describes you

1. Achiever – An achiever is a person who has lots of stamina and loves to accomplish all of their daily tasks in a timely manner. Achieving as much as possible is what makes them tick!

2. Arranger – An arranger is a person who has exceptional coordination skills. They’re adaptable and can respond to the unexpected. They’re good managers, efficient and able to maximise productivity.

3. Belief – People who are “believers” are transparent and honest and they hold heartfelt values. They’re thoughtful and they like to do things in the right way.

4. Consistency – People who fall into this category set clear rules and adhere to them strictly. They believe in equal rights and respect for others. They’re always fair and just.

5. Deliberative – A deliberative person is careful about the choices they make. They think about every tiny detail before taking action to ensure they’ve made the right decision.

6. Discipline – A person who is defined by discipline is skilled at planning and organising. They’re highly efficient and can establish routines, instructions and timelines.

7. Focus – People who fall into this category love to be up to date. They always keep on track. They focus on doing one thing at a time and, in this way, they achieve a lot. Nothing seems to break their concentration.

8. Responsibility – A responsible person is dependable and hard-working. They always produce excellent work. They show commitment and take ownership of all they do.

9. Restorative – People who are restorative are good at seeing the problem, identifying the cause of it and resolving it. People tend to approach them if they have a problem to solve because they’re analytical and thorough.

How many of these ways of executing do you recognise in yourself? Are you an EXECUTOR by nature? Can you think of times when you’ve demonstrated these strengths? What are the benefits of executing in the way you do?

Next time, we’ll focus on STRATEGIC THINKERS. Meanwhile, go sell your skills and get that top job!

The 7 high-impact traits employers look for – part 2

In our last blog entry we discussed the first three high impact traits that make an employer want to snap you up. These traits are highly sought by employers because they make a real difference to an organisation.

If you have them you will stand out, so let’s look at the remaining four to help you understand what employers really look for and how you can ensure you are that person.

EMPATHY

Wherever you work, being able to be an effective member of a team is essential. Teams are made up of individuals with their own particular strengths and skills but it’s the bringing together of these diverse abilities that makes teamwork collaborative, exciting and creative. These days teams can be multi-national if not global in nature, but effective teamwork still comes down to some basic skills. These are just a few of them:

  • social awareness
  • self-awareness
  • empathy or emotional intelligence
  • openness
  • expression
  • diplomacy

To be an effective team member, your future employer will want to know if you can recognise emotions in others. Are you empathetic? He or she may ask you a list of questions to ascertain your level of self-awareness, or you may be required to put yourself in the shoes of a family member or close friend. How would they see you? Can you describe your own strengths and weaknesses honestly?

Try to recall a time when your experience of teamwork was testing to say the least. Perhaps this was due to difficult personalities or being set a pressurised task. What role did you play in the team? How did you resolve the difficulties? Also, what do you enjoy about teamwork? Your employer will want to understand how you as a personality will fit into a team and how responsive you will be to that team.

POSITIVITY

Employers know that successful candidates are the ones who get on with the task in hand come what may. They don’t complain or dwell on their problems; they have a positive outlook and they take the initiative. Let’s face it; there will always be problems to solve and difficulties to face in the workplace, but the candidate who doesn’t blame others, or try to find fault in others, is the one who will remain focused and on target. There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself if things aren’t going your way; you need to be able turn things around and take control. You can only do this if you’re committed to your task, your team and your organisation and if you’re brimming with positivity.

Your employer may try to discover if you see yourself as a victim of circumstances by asking questions like “Have you ever felt neglected by your teammates?” or “Have you ever experienced an injustice at work or university?” He or she will want to find out if you’re someone who feels sorry for yourself or if you’re someone who can learn from situations and move on with a positive outlook.

INQUISITIVENESS

What excites you? What do you enjoy learning about? Are you a curious person who simply loves the process of acquiring knowledge? In fact, are you a veritable encyclopaedia of information? Your interviewer will love this trait in you because being inquisitive leads to many other desirable traits such as imagination, creativity and innovation.

So if you can show your potential employer that you not only enjoy learning new things but can learn them in detail, this will be seen as another desirable characteristic. Perhaps you had to research which speakers to buy for your sound system and discovered many interesting facts about them along the way? Perhaps your hobby is collecting musical instruments and you have a wealth of knowledge on the subject? Whatever your fascination is, make sure you impart your knowledge and your enthusiasm to your potential employer. And don’t forget that the interview will nearly always end with “Now, before you leave, do you have any more questions?” Remember, if you’re an inquisitive person, you certainly will have more questions!

CONFIDENCE

Even though you may be feeling nervous in your job interview, try to ensure that your language is clear and concise. Don’t allow yourself to waffle anxiously; make sure your words are to the point. Remember, it’s not just what you say; it’s how you express yourself that counts. Above all, you want to engage your interviewer.

Try to appear confident in both your spoken language and your body language. Sit upright because you can be sure that your posture will be noted. Also, make sure you’re fully involved in the interview and that your attention isn’t wandering. If you can come across as being energetic, alert and in control, then you’ll be remembered.

Of course, you’ll need to appear confident and courteous in all of your dealings with the organisation – not just in your CV, letter of application and interview. If you need to contact the organisation by email, ensure your email is well written, relevant and clear. If you need to phone the organisation, be polite and responsive. If someone has given up their time to meet you, why not send them a thank-you note? Your attention to detail and your thoughtfulness will make a lasting impression.

In our last blog entry we discussed the first three high impact traits that make an employer want to snap you up. These traits are highly sought by employers because they make a real difference to an organisation.

If you have them you will stand out, so let’s look at the remaining four to help you understand what employers really look for and how you can ensure you are that person.

EMPATHY

Wherever you work, being able to be an effective member of a team is essential. Teams are made up of individuals with their own particular strengths and skills but it’s the bringing together of these diverse abilities that makes teamwork collaborative, exciting and creative. These days teams can be multi-national if not global in nature, but effective teamwork still comes down to some basic skills. These are just a few of them:

  • social awareness
  • self-awareness
  • empathy or emotional intelligence
  • openness
  • expression
  • diplomacy

To be an effective team member, your future employer will want to know if you can recognise emotions in others. Are you empathetic? He or she may ask you a list of questions to ascertain your level of self-awareness, or you may be required to put yourself in the shoes of a family member or close friend. How would they see you? Can you describe your own strengths and weaknesses honestly?

Try to recall a time when your experience of teamwork was testing to say the least. Perhaps this was due to difficult personalities or being set a pressurised task. What role did you play in the team? How did you resolve the difficulties? Also, what do you enjoy about teamwork? Your employer will want to understand how you as a personality will fit into a team and how responsive you will be to that team.

POSITIVITY

Employers know that successful candidates are the ones who get on with the task in hand come what may. They don’t complain or dwell on their problems; they have a positive outlook and they take the initiative. Let’s face it; there will always be problems to solve and difficulties to face in the workplace, but the candidate who doesn’t blame others, or try to find fault in others, is the one who will remain focused and on target. There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself if things aren’t going your way; you need to be able turn things around and take control. You can only do this if you’re committed to your task, your team and your organisation and if you’re brimming with positivity.

Your employer may try to discover if you see yourself as a victim of circumstances by asking questions like “Have you ever felt neglected by your teammates?” or “Have you ever experienced an injustice at work or university?” He or she will want to find out if you’re someone who feels sorry for yourself or if you’re someone who can learn from situations and move on with a positive outlook.

INQUISITIVENESS

What excites you? What do you enjoy learning about? Are you a curious person who simply loves the process of acquiring knowledge? In fact, are you a veritable encyclopaedia of information? Your interviewer will love this trait in you because being inquisitive leads to many other desirable traits such as imagination, creativity and innovation.

So if you can show your potential employer that you not only enjoy learning new things but can learn them in detail, this will be seen as another desirable characteristic. Perhaps you had to research which speakers to buy for your sound system and discovered many interesting facts about them along the way? Perhaps your hobby is collecting musical instruments and you have a wealth of knowledge on the subject? Whatever your fascination is, make sure you impart your knowledge and your enthusiasm to your potential employer. And don’t forget that the interview will nearly always end with “Now, before you leave, do you have any more questions?” Remember, if you’re an inquisitive person, you certainly will have more questions!

CONFIDENCE

Even though you may be feeling nervous in your job interview, try to ensure that your language is clear and concise. Don’t allow yourself to waffle anxiously; make sure your words are to the point. Remember, it’s not just what you say; it’s how you express yourself that counts. Above all, you want to engage your interviewer.

Try to appear confident in both your spoken language and your body language. Sit upright because you can be sure that your posture will be noted. Also, make sure you’re fully involved in the interview and that your attention isn’t wandering. If you can come across as being energetic, alert and in control, then you’ll be remembered.

Of course, you’ll need to appear confident and courteous in all of your dealings with the organisation – not just in your CV, letter of application and interview. If you need to contact the organisation by email, ensure your email is well written, relevant and clear. If you need to phone the organisation, be polite and responsive. If someone has given up their time to meet you, why not send them a thank-you note? Your attention to detail and your thoughtfulness will make a lasting impression.

If you have these 7 high-impact traits employers will snap you up

The big question every job-seeking graduate wants to know the answer to is this: What are employers really looking for, and how can I ensure I am that person?

Well, research has been carried out into ‘high-impact hire’ – that is, traits that are highly sought by employers; the ones that make a real difference to an organisation. These personal traits make employees stand out – they shine at what they do and this is apparent at any stage of their career and at any level. So what are these traits or characteristics? Let’s see if we can categorise them.

PERSEVERANCE

Some graduates begin their working lives in start-up organisations where they find they’re the first person to ever fulfil a particular role. The role they’ve been given simply didn’t exist before! So how do they go about fulfilling their new tasks in a satisfactory manner and at a fast pace? Where do they begin? First of all, they take a deep breath and decide not to panic! Then they have to tell themselves that they have all the common sense, imagination and initiative they need to succeed. They also have the perseverance.

But, in a job interview, how do you convey to a prospective employer that you have this level of determination and flexibility? Ultimately, you need to prove that you have ‘sticking power’. Try to recall an occasion when you faced a seemingly insurmountable problem but you persevered until a solution was reached. This may have been learning a new skill, for example a language, or this may have been trawling your way through hours of tedious research to find a conclusion. If you can prove that you are the sort of person who won’t give up, even when tasks become mundane, pressured or difficult, you’ll make a lasting impression.

ASSIMILATION

What does assimilation mean and what does it mean to a potential employer? If you can assimilate information, you can absorb it and understand it fully. Not only that, you can foresee its implications and you can integrate what you learn into your practice.

From an employer’s point of view, you may need to prove that you’ll be meticulous in the way you analyse data, or that you’ll be able to reach decisions based on evidence taken from many sources. Of course, sometimes there are no right or wrong answers when we evaluate data; it’s the process itself that is significant. But employers will want to see that you can analyse information methodically and carefully, understand its implications and draw your own conclusions.

This ability is tested quite easily and you may find your interview consists of a timed test or some logical problems to solve. But if you can also give your interviewer examples of occasions when you had to spend time sifting through data to reach a conclusion, and explain how this process and your findings affected your thinking, then this will be seen as another big positive. Your examples could be anything from refining your revision technique to researching an essay or carrying out a survey.

EFFECT

Organisations will want to know if their potential employees have made a measurable difference in their previous roles. Did they have an impact or a positive effect on the firm they worked for previously? For example, did they generate revenue or sales that were quantifiable?

Of course, this is a difficult question to be asked if you’re being interviewed for your first post! So, instead, the employer may ask you about the people you admire so that you can describe these qualities in someone else. Did the person you admire – in the world of business, sport or politics, for example – have a real effect? What did they achieve and how did they go about this?

It’s important to remember that in order to have an effect in an organisation you need to be clear about the goals of that organisation and your role within it. You need to be on track. So your future employer will want to hear about times when you’ve set goals and worked to reach them – times when you’ve thought deeply about what was required of you and considered ways in which you could achieve your aims. This could be training for a team race, raising funds for a charity or organising an event. Did you understand what was needed of you? Did you set a goal and did you make a difference?

There are 4 additional high-impact traits employers look for in a graduate which you can read about in Part 2 – coming soon!