Author Topic: Help me stop sucking in interviews  (Read 14473 times)

tj

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #50 on: January 29, 2016, 03:46:28 PM »
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4) Elaborate on answers. If I ask you a question ("Describe a time where you had to deal with a difficult customer," or whatever), one word or one sentence answers aren't going to cut it. I expect detailed responses.

I know that for me, if somebody asked me something like this on the spot, it would be difficult to competently answer for one of two reasons: A.) It becomes second nature that you don't even think about it. or  B.) You may have blocked it out because it was frustrating to deal with. It inevitably leads to forcing yourself to concoct some BS on the spot. The last time I was job hunting and learned a lot of the same behavioral question exhaustion that a lot of big employers use, I pre-wrote several answers an put them in a text file to read during the call.  Sometimes the recruiter even gave you a heads up as to what questions would be asked by the HR person. I've always hated BSing. I've often been called a 'man of few words'. I don't have a lot to say about a whole bunch of things, but I'll crack people up when they least expect it. Even with writing, I was always very succinct while growing up and hated when we would have word or paragraph minimums when a given question could be adequately answered in a sentence or two. Needless to say, it does not bode all too well for the typical phone screens. If one can easily get past HR with little to no effort, I feel like one is incredibly blessed in life. That is such a valuable skill and basically means you can be employable indefinitely.

I know that if I had the confidence that I'd be able to successfully BS my way through the first generic phone screen that came my way, I would have a drastically smaller "F You Money" requirement for myself. :D

There's such thing as preparing for interviews and knowing standard questions. There is no standard answer to this one, you just have to deal with it and describe in polite words what your situation was and how you dealt with it


You can do all the prep and research you want, but you still have to have the charisma to wow the person on the other line enough to send you to the next person.  I feel like it goes well beyond recalling some experience from your past and putting a few extra smiley faces on it. In many cases, you have to actually manufacture some detailed response that doesn't sound manufactured. This is something that an English or Speech major in particular could have a field day with, but a math, science or arts, it generally requires significantly more effort. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's obviously the world we live in, and one can either adapt (with plenty of research and prep) or look for alternative means (smaller employers where you might be dealing directly with a dept person instead of HR, or pursue self employment)

lbmustache

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #51 on: January 29, 2016, 05:42:11 PM »
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4) Elaborate on answers. If I ask you a question ("Describe a time where you had to deal with a difficult customer," or whatever), one word or one sentence answers aren't going to cut it. I expect detailed responses.

I know that for me, if somebody asked me something like this on the spot, it would be difficult to competently answer for one of two reasons: A.) It becomes second nature that you don't even think about it. or  B.) You may have blocked it out because it was frustrating to deal with. It inevitably leads to forcing yourself to concoct some BS on the spot. The last time I was job hunting and learned a lot of the same behavioral question exhaustion that a lot of big employers use, I pre-wrote several answers an put them in a text file to read during the call.  Sometimes the recruiter even gave you a heads up as to what questions would be asked by the HR person. I've always hated BSing. I've often been called a 'man of few words'. I don't have a lot to say about a whole bunch of things, but I'll crack people up when they least expect it. Even with writing, I was always very succinct while growing up and hated when we would have word or paragraph minimums when a given question could be adequately answered in a sentence or two. Needless to say, it does not bode all too well for the typical phone screens. If one can easily get past HR with little to no effort, I feel like one is incredibly blessed in life. That is such a valuable skill and basically means you can be employable indefinitely.

I know that if I had the confidence that I'd be able to successfully BS my way through the first generic phone screen that came my way, I would have a drastically smaller "F You Money" requirement for myself. :D

Well, I have two responses:

If a difficult situation or customer arises very often (I am assuming this is what you meant by 2nd nature?), then you should be able to describe it appropriately. I have worked in retail, and have many interviews with people who work in retail, food service, or other customer service jobs. You get the same morons/rude people over and over. And you usually have difficult people weekly, if not daily. If you can't think of one example, that tells me you are probably not paying attention and just going through the motions at your job. For the second part, honestly, "blocking out a difficult situation," would be a huge red flag to me. Means you didn't learn from it and are just hoping it will go away or you will never have to be dealt with again.

I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

tj

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #52 on: January 29, 2016, 06:10:15 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 06:34:17 PM by tj »

lbmustache

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #53 on: January 29, 2016, 06:28:32 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

tj

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2016, 06:33:55 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

Right, but I feel like the issue would be that most people aren't going to be keeping detailed journals about the happenings at their workplace and the adjustments they may or may not have made to adapt to said situation, so most people are going to have to manufacture some situation that sounds plausible enough. Like somebody else said - fake it til you make it.

I feel like one would need something fairly noteworthy to happen to be able to recount it off-hand and back it up with some detailed story.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 06:35:57 PM by tj »

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #55 on: January 29, 2016, 06:38:24 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

Right, but I feel like the issue would be that most people aren't going to be keeping detailed journals about the happenings at their workplace and the adjustments they may or may not have made to adapt to said situation, so most people are going to have to manufacture some situation that sounds plausible enough. Like somebody else said - fake it til you make it.

I feel like one would need something fairly noteworthy to happen to be able to recount it off-hand and back it up with some detailed story.

I conduct interviews where we ask these types of questions, and I realized the other day I would have a hard time giving great answers for the exact reasons you are mentioning - I don't remember the details of specific situations!

tj

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2016, 06:50:50 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

Right, but I feel like the issue would be that most people aren't going to be keeping detailed journals about the happenings at their workplace and the adjustments they may or may not have made to adapt to said situation, so most people are going to have to manufacture some situation that sounds plausible enough. Like somebody else said - fake it til you make it.

I feel like one would need something fairly noteworthy to happen to be able to recount it off-hand and back it up with some detailed story.

I conduct interviews where we ask these types of questions, and I realized the other day I would have a hard time giving great answers for the exact reasons you are mentioning - I don't remember the details of specific situations!

It will be interesting to see if your acknowledgement of this will have any effect on how you evaluate the people you are interviewing, or even the questions that you might ask them.

lbmustache

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #57 on: January 29, 2016, 07:03:30 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

Right, but I feel like the issue would be that most people aren't going to be keeping detailed journals about the happenings at their workplace and the adjustments they may or may not have made to adapt to said situation, so most people are going to have to manufacture some situation that sounds plausible enough. Like somebody else said - fake it til you make it.

I feel like one would need something fairly noteworthy to happen to be able to recount it off-hand and back it up with some detailed story.

I see the problem. The question I posed here is not the complete question. The question I ask is, "Describe a time where you dealt with a difficult customer and what you did to resolve the situation." So basically I am asking how you solve problems in the workplace. The original question is unclear and no, I would not expect people to remember mundane details in the context of the original statement I posted.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2016, 07:08:18 PM »

For example, let's say that one of the key strengths you bring to the table is innovation.

WTF does that even mean?! That's just mumbo-jumbo hype words put together in a sentence. A person does not "bring innovation" and quite frankly, this isn't even a table! *smashes phone on desk*

I don't disagree with your post BTW, I just hate making up hollow bullshit like that.

This is corporate speak. Often it's complete bullshit, but sometimes it isn't. It's important to be conversant in language if you ever interview with a company that's very corporate. Technology and consultancy seem to be awful with industry speak and cliches. Even though the phrasology is a bit ridiculous if you're interviewing with a place like this it helps to use their language. 

tj

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #59 on: January 29, 2016, 07:28:20 PM »
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I am not trying to be harsh, but "I blocked it out," or "I don't think about those situations," are not valid answers for an interviewer.

Of course they aren't, which is why fielding such a question would be incredibly frustrating when those are the types of things that might immediately come to mind if you were asked such a question. I never had frequent frustrations at work, that was a very rare thing like less than 1% of customer interactions over the course of three-ish years. The second nature part is maybe some folks did things that would frustrate others, but didn't affect me. I am confident that I handled any such situation appropriately, but I just moved on and adapted. I couldn't give you some detailed essay on it because I don't remember. I'm not sure what you could LEARN from it, other than to make yourself more stoic or whatever. Maybe it's different if you have the type of job where you need a really thick skin with frequent problem customers.

My boss always said,  "if they knew better, they'd do better", in regards to illogical customers or suppliers, and I think that really helped me let that type of stuff roll off my back and not consume me with shame, self loathing or or whatever other emotions one feels when a customer makes one think they are doing a shitty job.

I definitely have been going through the motions throughout most of my working career though, so that probably influences my perspective. I feel like with so many people out of work, having a job that you can get super excited about is probably a luxury rather than a requirement. Of course, the bigger the stash is, the more risks one can take in that regard of holding out for the exciting job.

You're misconstruing the question. Asking about a difficult situation at work does not mean you are dwelling on it or it's something that has scarred you for life. Adapting to a situation means you have learned something and changed a behavior - so the two statements you posted contradict each other.

FWIW, saying some of the stuff you said above in an interview isn't a problem. I had someone who worked at the airport who had a very similar response, and it's fine - again, as long as there is some level of elaboration. The only downside is when it comes down to the wire, you may be passed over for not having a relevant issue to discuss. As someone mentioned above, it's a pretty standard interview question.

Right, but I feel like the issue would be that most people aren't going to be keeping detailed journals about the happenings at their workplace and the adjustments they may or may not have made to adapt to said situation, so most people are going to have to manufacture some situation that sounds plausible enough. Like somebody else said - fake it til you make it.

I feel like one would need something fairly noteworthy to happen to be able to recount it off-hand and back it up with some detailed story.

I see the problem. The question I posed here is not the complete question. The question I ask is, "Describe a time where you dealt with a difficult customer and what you did to resolve the situation." So basically I am asking how you solve problems in the workplace. The original question is unclear and no, I would not expect people to remember mundane details in the context of the original statement I posted.

You should totally start the"lbmustache Job Interview Prep Coaching" side hustle! I clearly need to consult you next time I am on the job hunt. :)

Anyways, I think what might be lost in this side discussion is OP seems to have had a good phone interview using some of the suggestions posted in the thread. That is awesome to see, especially using the question he asked that allowed him a second chance at a question they weren't satisfied with the answer to the first time.

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #60 on: January 30, 2016, 08:24:56 AM »
I have done multiple interviews lately. One job did 2 phone and 2 in person! 4 interviews for one place. The thing that holds me back is they think I am shy. I really am not, but I am obviously nervous. I suppose thats why it comes across that way. Even for a job I dont want ill be nervous. I am confident in my skills and ability to learn but may not always come across that way. Its frustrating. When they ask questions, I respond as short or lengthy as needed and feel I answer well. So yes, I also hate interviews. It is certainly not easy for me to try to shake the nerves and be more energetic/talkative, which I guess they want.

dcozad999

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #61 on: February 01, 2016, 09:09:17 AM »
That's basically my issue.

I'm not shy, I'm nervous. Some interviewers can help shake the nerves. I don't know what they do or how they do it, but some interviewers just have an ability to make you feel more comfortable.

neo von retorch

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Re: Help me stop sucking in interviews
« Reply #62 on: February 01, 2016, 10:12:31 AM »
I've had one or two interviews where I was really nervous. As others have said, you should be interviewing them - you should be very prepared with lots of questions that will inform you as to what working for this company will really be like, how it will shape your future career, and how you can grow, learn, increase your marketability and salary going forward. Additionally, I also have been in interviews where they make you feel very comfortable. I think this can really be an indicator towards what it will be like to work with (and/or for) them in the future. So if you get nervous, remember that they're probably not doing a good job of making you comfortable, and probably never would while you worked there, either. My current employer gave a relaxed, comfortable interview. We asked each other a ton of questions, and we were OK with human answers like "I haven't learned that yet" or "I'll definitely email you with that information later."