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Posts Tagged ‘job’

Why should we hire you?

Posted by Vivian Wong on July 23, 2009

Team Photo

Today’s article by CNN 43 weird things to say in job interviews was pretty funny. Here are some of my favorites:

“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group

“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein

Last week I interviewed an experienced software developer who made a long lasting impression on me.

First Impression

Me: What do you know about this position?

Mr. XYZ: Nothing. I spent no more than 3 minutes looking at the job description when I applied.

Are you a people person?

Five minutes later, sensing that Mr. XYZ may be difficult to work with:

Me: Have you ever had conflicts with others at work?

Mr. XYZ: Oh yeah. You can call them conflicts or disagreements – same thing.

Me:  Can you please give me an example? How did you resolve the issue?

Mr. XYZ: (shrug) They wouldn’t do what I said and I told them their designs were wrong. They were stubborn.

Collaborating in a Global Environment

Me: How do you feel about working with a global team?

Mr. XYZ:  There is just nothing good about working with teams in India. It takes twice as much time to communicate to get stuff done and then they are never done right. We have to deal with them. We have no choice.

Closing the deal

Me: Hmmm… Actually we have teams in India and we enjoy working with them. They can bring a lot of value to our projects….

Mr. XYZ: You are not hearing me right. You are just being an idealist. What I said is that it takes so much time to communicate with them and then you have to wait a long time for things to turn around and they don’t give you what you need. Global teams just don’t work.

At this point, I thanked him for his time and ended the interview. Frankly, I’d rather hire someone with no technical skills but has the “right” attitude and willing to learn than the other way round. It’s much easier to learn hard skills than soft skills.

Later when I compared my notes with other interviewers on my team,  it was clear that Mr. XYZ was most outspoken and least respectful to me. (We wondered whether he simply treated me differently because I was the only female interviewer?)

What were some of your most memorable experiences either as an interviewer or interviewee?

Posted in candidate, global, recruiting, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Are you limiting your options?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 27, 2009


Recently I was giving advice to a college student, that many will remember receiving themselves.  Essentially, I explained that the key to picking an undergraduate degree is to pick one that:

 a) will keep you interested enough that you will graduate 

 b) gives you a good number of options when you are done.

I realized that the same advice holds just as true for making  a career move.   When you think about places to go in your career, it is useful to think about how that experience will help build your resume.  

Are you doing tasks that you are likely to complete successfully?    Is the role you are taking, one that you are well suited for?  Is it likely that you are going to be able to do a good job ?

In addition, you need to think about what kinds of roles you might progress to, after the current one. 

Are you picking opportunities that give you more choices later or are you typecasting yourself always doing the same things?  It’s not to say that you should not build depth in a specific area, but it is saying that you cannot define your career as a single step.  You need to be thinking not only about your current move, but the next one as well. 

Taking steps now, to have more options later, can give you that edge over time.

Posted in Career Development, performance, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

How about giving your Boss a Performance Review?

Posted by Vivian Wong on April 14, 2009

handshakeAs an employee, it’s easy to think of a Performance Review as a one way street where the manager reviews your performance. In some ways, a Performance Review is just like social networking (such as Twitter/Facebook)- some make the most of it, while others think it’s a complete waste of time.

If you make the most of your Performance Reviews, then congratulations! I hope you walk away from them knowing:

  • How you are doing at your job – what’s working and what’s not
  • Suggestions/Action items for growth
  • Hope for continued career growth – honest discussion so your manager can help align your strengths and career aspiration with the business needs

You can take it one step further. 

From time to time, you should give your manager the ultimate gift as well. As Meg noted in her Managing Your Boss blog, part of your job is to help your boss succeed. Just like your manager lets you know how you are performing, you should reciprocate and give your manager some feedback on how they are doing as your boss – all relationships (work or personal) thrive on a two-way communication.

So ask yourself: 

  • What is it that your manager does that either helps or hinders you from performing your best
  • Do you want your manager to continue or stop a particular behavior? 
  • What do you want your manager to start doing to bring out your potential?

I am betting that I am not the only manager who appreciates honest feedback from my team. 

For example, I would definitely want you to tell me if I have broccoli stuck in my teeth  or that I was abrasive in my communication or worse, I am de-motivating you unknowingly. I would also like to know if I am doing enough for you and whether  I am providing the right level of support to help you grow

It’s one thing to do the best I can, it’s another to know that my efforts have the desired effect;  and if not, I’d be happy to make improvements and be a better leader and manager!

So go ahead – give your manager some feedback – it might even help your manager to help you in finding happiness at work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Happiness @ Work?

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 15, 2008

What motivates most people at work include promotions and pay raises. These two factors certainly affect our happiness level at work – but they are often short-lived and sometimes leave you with more frustration than if you haven’t gotten any at all. For example: you may have recently got promoted, and yet you may think it took management far too long to give you the promotion you deserve. (This may be true but that should not rob you of the joy of receiving the promotion); Even if you were truly happy with the promotion or the raise (and better still both), that special feeling doesn’t last very long. Surely we can’t get promoted as often as we’d like – otherwise all of us would be CEOs or Presidents by now. So how do we go about finding happiness at work that doesn’t fade away like soap bubbles?     

Know Yourself
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. (Buddha)    

It is clearly not possible to love EVERYTHING about your job – but you should ask yourself: 

  • Are you being challenged and do you enjoy the challenges?
  • Are you maximizing your strengths?
  • Are you developing your greatest potential through the peaks and valley of this constant rollercoaster ride working in a large corporation?
  • Are you doing the best you can?
  • Do you get job satisfaction from your job?
If your answers to above questions are mostly no, then you should take a hard look at your career. Perhaps it’s time for you to initiate a change! This is the perfect recipe to frustration, disappointment and unhappiness.     

If there are a couple of “No”s, then you should take the responsibility upon yourself to see how you can turn them to “yes”. You could be standing in your own way of happiness! For example, say you are a developer. If you are not maximizing your strength in “presentation” because all you do is writing technical design documents and code all day. You may be frustrated that you have amazing hidden talents waiting for your manager to discover and she/he STILL hasn’t discovered them yet. Let’s face it, your managers are not trained to be talent agents. You need to take the initiative to discuss this with her/him. Perhaps you could volunteer for community services such as hosting brown bags for knowledge transfers. (Most managers would love to see their employees being proactive).    

If all your answers are “Yes” – then congratulations! You have reached Nirvana!     

Know what YOU want is key to finding happiness at work– if you have no idea what floats your boat, then how could your manager know? Aligning your own career goals with the needs/opportunities of the business with the support of your manager will certainly get you a lot closer to reaching your goals.     

Without a clear goal, you will always end up somewhere else – perhaps even further away from finding happiness!     

Love What You Do
I am not talking about loving every minute of your job. That job probably doesn’t exist. (It’s like having adorable kids or puppies, they all have their least attractive moments.;-) ). We all know that we are at our best form when we do something we love. So if you don’t love what you do (or at least some aspects of your job), then you need to figure out what you are really passionate about and go after that!     

Be Adaptable
The truth is, you have to be comfortable with change no matter what you do – in fact you should fully expect it. You have to have the strength to accept things you cannot change – because change is the only constant in today’s world. Resistance causes pain, and pain can blind you to the opportunities for your growth that changes often bring. Ultimately, this resistance can affect your happiness at work (or what is left of it).     

A pessimist sees the difficulty in opportunity, and an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill     

Be Positive
No one likes to work with a whiner who’s never happy and projects negative thoughts/attitude. Negative thoughts/words affect you and those around you on a subconscious level. People feel more at ease (and eager to help) when we are positive. There have also been countless studies that link negative thoughts to physical illnesses. For example, one recent study showed that Nuns who have positive thoughts live 10 years longer than those who don’t. Apparently being negative is a secret recipe to dying younger!     

If you know what you want to do, do what you love and have the strength to overcome obstacles along the way with a positive attitude, I think you are on the right track to finding happiness at work!     

My first performance review

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 27, 2008

The very first performance review I received was when I worked as a consultant for a small software house in Sydney.Before the performance review, I actually really enjoyed my job. My boss appreciated all the extra efforts we put into our work to get our customers live. He cared and we responded by working extra hard.

Life is full of surprises though.

One day the owner of the company flew in from Perth (Western Australia) completely unannounced and fired our boss that same day. A couple of days later, the CEO sat me down and presented me with the performance review document that HR has put together. He told me that I met their expectations and the company appreciates my work. All was good – right?

Well – not exactly.

I walked away from the performance review feeling confused and disappointed- and it wasn’t just from learning that my boss got fired from a couple of days ago. What bothered me was the CEO’s body language during the performance review. He seemed uninterested and disengaged. He casually flipped the review document back and forth (so I wondered if he had read it before he came into the meeting.) He also seemed to have ants in his pants and checked his watch frequently. So while he read my performance document to me, I stared at the conference table for the most part – trying to hide my disappointment. Although the feedback was “nice”, he came across as “bored” and “insincere”. There were no specific examples of why he thought I did well nor was there any suggestions on how I could be more than just “meet expectations”. (If I was getting ready for retirement, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But I was young, energetic and really wanted to know what I can do to be a better consultant.) With my 20/20 hind sight, I should have asked. To this date, I still remember how shiny the conference table was and the question I kept on asking myself “is this the company I still want to work for?”

The good thing is that I learned how NOT to deliver a performance review. 🙂

Posted in engagement, management | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Does this job make my butt look big?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 21, 2008

Thanks to David for reminding me that the blog title is important.  Just for the record, I am not covering that job you had that gave you an extra 15lbs, by making you work 80 hours a week and fed you, round the clock, all kinds of processed snack foods.  That is a topic for another post all together, or a therapy session (or both).

What I am talking about today, is more on the idea of engagement and what I learned at the conference I attended. 

The session was hosted by the Conference Board and it was a preview into their 2008 engagement research .  In a nutshell, they found what we here at TalentedApps have been saying for awhile.  The most critical element of engagement globally is:

A well structured, well designed, inspiring job.

This is not just having a job that provides you with growth opportunities, but also a job that fits well into your broader life, balancing the demands of both your personal and professional needs. 

What is so interesting about this study is how consistent this is across a global population.  The four questions that “worked” in every geography to measure engagement were about:

  1. variety and challenge of the work itself
  2. interpersonal relationship with the manager
  3. shared company values
  4. opportunity for career growth

In the US, there was also a strong correlation between goal alignment and engagement.  My personal guess is that this is evidence that the focus on strategically aligned and managed goals is beginning to take root. 

As we look at strategies for getting the most from ourselves and our teams we must focus closely on how we define and measure jobs.  That, to me, should be the strategic agenda of anyone interested in turning the employee engagement focus from a fad to a result.


Note to the clueless: There is only ever one answer to the question posed in the title — honesty is not at all the best policy where this question is concerned.

Posted in engagement, hr transformation, management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »