Monday, January 6, 2014

4 Minutes

Dynamic, collaborative relationships are desired.  Most companies that I get to work with are often eager to find professionals who understand how to make an impact with the skill set they have while being respectful of the authorities in place already.  Smart employers often seek to find these exceptional people with vigor.

So, where are these people?  Do they exist?  After speaking with some of the ones we get to work with at Humareso, I would say 9 out of 10 have become discouraged about the talent pool.  Whether it’s a non-committal attitude, a desire for a list of all benefits offered by the company prior to the first interview or an awareness that the depth of work ethic displayed falls short of what’s actually needed in the workplace, these employers have dejection written on their metaphorical faces.

People, let’s display what should be displayed, not just as an appearance, but as a true picture of the qualities we possess.  Do I think that all candidates fall into the descriptors above?  No.  However, do I think that these employers are wrong?  No.  They are responding to what they see.  And remember, what they "see" is not always viewable.

I sometimes wish that everyone’s skill sets could be viewed, such as what a model has to do for his/her interviews.  Show me what you can do.  You can sit all day and tell me how great you are, but it’s better when I see you get up and walk the catwalk.  The tangibles are visible.  How do you move?  What does your face do when you walk?  Do you capture the look we want?  It takes about 4 minutes to know.  So, theoretically, can you show what you must in 4 minutes?

Most potential employers conducting interviews say they can tell within a few minutes if you have what it takes.  So, if the interview is a half an hour or longer, what is happening in the interviewer's mind?  You’ve got to make a quick, competent impression as an applicant.  The shortfall here is part of the reason that these potential employers feel that there is a lack in the talent pool.  They struggle to know what you know because it’s not presented in a coherent way.  If you have four minutes, what do you want to share?  Practice.

OK, naysayers, I hear you.  “Yeah, but John, when I walk into an interview, I don’t get to dictate the questions.”  After years of witnessing interviews, I would have to say that more than half of those times begin with a potential employer asking one of the following questions to start out:
  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • Why are you leaving your current employer?/Why did you leave your last employer?
  • Why did you decide to apply for this position?
  • Why should we hire you?

Think about what you can do with the answer to any one of these questions.  Can you give them a great snapshot of your competencies, personality and work ethic in four minutes by answering one of these first questions?  Heck, yeah (Sorry, I will tone down the language moving forward).  Practice what that response is.  Look in the mirror and work it out.

However, I have to address those who do practice the answer.  Can you act like you believe what you’re saying?  The words are not the only important part, but the facial expressions, body language, inflection and lilt in your voice, etc., too.  Robots are not attractive and will not communicate who you really are (unless you really are a robot, and in that case, please be sure to check “other” in the Self-Identification section of the application).  Being believable is done when you are believable.  Crazy, right?

Authenticity begins with a belief in who you are and a confidence in it.  You might not be a fit for every company, but you are a fit for a company.  Your disillusionment with the process of finding a job can be seen clearly in the first four minutes, even if you’ve practiced your answer.  The spark in your eyes is dim, the life in your voice is weak and the enthused body language is replaced by a slouch.  Be prepared, yes, but be engaged, too.

I do believe that the talent pool needs to get stronger in certain skill sets (technology, written communication and mathematics) and in presenting those aptitudes.  I believe it takes work to get the job you want to get.  I don’t believe that you should just hope it works out.  Rather, work it out.  Do what you have to do to be enthusiastically ready for an interview.  Share with those potential employers why it would be great to have you as an employee based upon a clear and vibrant expression of your competencies.  Believe in who you are.  You’ve only got four minutes.