I know you know what you are talking about but does anyone else? We often say things to sound prolific, savvy, or with it, but do you know how it sounds to the person sitting on the other side of the desk? It would be nice to walk around with a tape recorder all the time and hit “playback” to listen to the pearls of wisdom that trickle from your lips especially when you are in an interview. Trying to impress is one thing, but sounding like a moron is another. Here are a few examples of what my 12th grade English teacher would define as an “oxymoron.” If you are not sure what that means then maybe you should stop reading this and hit the dictionary. Or as my mother would say, “Look it up!”
Here are five unexpected side effects when you open your mouth in an interview:
- “I’m really a strategic thinker but numbers is not my thing” Okay I’m not sure which part of being “strategic” equates to not being good with numbers, but basically you are signaling to a hiring manager that you like to “think” about things and come up with the ideas, but if you have to be held accountable for the results, say like making money, well, hey pick on someone else. Being a strategic thinker means being able to think about ALL facets of the equation, including how your ideas can or will make money for the company. Anyone can be chock full of ideas, but to be able to execute and deliver results-that takes someone who is truly “strategic”.
- “I’m a great leader but I don’t like to fire people or give my staff feedback” Yes we all like to think we can lead a cause, a mission, a staff but heaven forbid we actually have to interact with any of these people! Being a leader doesn’t mean you get to delegate the tough stuff to say your HR Manager or your assistant. Being a leader means making tough decisions and being able to take fair and compassionate action when it involves giving someone on your staff feedback or worse, if you have to let someone go for any reason. Yes, it’s nice to have the corner office, designated parking spot or annual bonus but when it comes to being a true leader, you have to take the good with the bad and be able to handle the pressure with grace and dignity.
- “I’m a creative, I really like to focus on my art” That line may have worked for Picasso but you don’t live in a flat in Paris and unless you work by yourself, you don’t have the luxury to hole it up in a wall somewhere and come out to play when you feel like it. Being creative doesn’t mean you are allowed to play the role of a sulking artist. You will need to develop not only your creative talents but your interpersonal ones as well. If you are not a champion for your own work, what makes you think anyone will be your champion? Come out and play and show the world how wonderful you really are!
- “I’m great managing budgets but I hate the details” Well, hey no one said your job was going to be easy. But I would not want you balancing my checkbook no matter how great you were with a calculator if you did not have some level of being detail-oriented and precise. Having attention deficit when it’s your job to manage other people’s money is not a skill set you want to highlight especially if you are being asked to manage projects, costs, deliverables and timelines. Having great attention to detail means you are not only good with numbers but you can catch stuff before it hits the ground.
- “I’m very detail oriented but hate reviewing my own work” Unless you have two sets of eyes and are the type who can do a cross word puzzle in ink, I suggest you take a few minutes to edit yourself before someone like your boss gives you feedback you might not like. It goes without saying that if you fancy yourself a detailed person than making sure your work is accurate is a given. Winging something because you think you are that good might work some of the time but if you are a detailed type, you’d spend a few minutes making sure you are truly as good as you believe you are.
So the next time you think you are characterizing yourself accurately to a recruiter or hiring manager, make sure to stop and think again. Be mindful of how your comments can be construed when speaking to someone who does not know you as well as you think you know yourself.
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