Archive for November 2012

Connie’s Career Corner: Live and Learn

November 27, 2012



“Live and Learn”


Tip for the day:  The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have an interview coming up, and I am extremely nervous because I have not had one in twenty years. Do you have any good tips for me?

A:   Dear Nervous:  First, take a deep breath and relax. If you come into an interview feeling nervous and afraid, it will often be reflected in your answers. The best defense is a good offense – prepare and practice your answers as much as possible before the interview so that you will go in feeling more confident.


You also need to keep in mind that it is often not what you say that is important, but what the interviewer hears.  If you tell the employer how much you disliked your former employer, the interviewer may actually be hearing that you are negative and angry. If you complain that you could not get along with certain co-workers, the interviewer may be hearing that you are not a team player and cannot get along with others.  Imagine how you would respond to certain answers if you were the one conducting the interview and tailor your answers from that perspective.


“Can you tell me about yourself?” is one of the hardest questions to answer because many job candidates immediately start talking about their personal lives. When you are interviewing, remember not to get too personal with your answers. Although you may be proud of your grandchildren, the interviewer probably could care less.  The better approach to this type of question is to speak of your career and professional milestones and skip stories about your personal life.


You may want to consider setting up a mock interview with someone who is experienced in interviewing. That person can ask you common interview questions and give you feedback about what areas you need to work on. This will also make you feel more relaxed because you will now have some interviewing experience under your belt. You may also want this person to critique your body language in order to ensure that you are not sending negative signals to the interviewer.


Finally, remember that each interview is a learning experience. If you make a mistake, just be sure not to repeat it the next time you interview.  Interviewing is like a sport, the more you practice at it, the better you will become.


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Connie’s Career Corner “Are you really listening to your co-workers?”

November 5, 2012



“Are you really listening to your co-workers?”


Tip for the day:  When it comes to communication, it is good to remember that we have only one mouth, but two ears.

Q:  Dear Connie:  I have a co-worker who talks all of the time.  Often, he is saying the same thing over and over.  At our meetings he seems to talk more than anyone else.  Do I just need to out-talk him at meetings to be heard?

A:   Dear Tired of the Noise:  Trying to out-talk someone will probably cause your coworkers to “tune you out.”  When it comes to being a good communicator, a good rule to follow is listen twice a much as you speak.  You want your ideas to be listened to and understood.  Often we just hear people, but what we do not really concentrate on is what the person is saying and even more important what the person intends for us to hear.   Listening involves hearing and processing the words, tone of voice and non-verbal communication being sent by the speaker. If you are thinking of what you will say next you are not really listening to the person speaking.


We have all worked with co-workers who seem to monopolize the conversations that take place at work.  Sometimes when a person seems to talk too much in a meeting or becomes defensive, it is because he really does not feel like he is being heard.   So, he talks and talks and talks thinking that somehow what he wants to be heard will click in someone’s mind.


Next time you are running a meeting, try giving this person the floor.  Then repeat back to the person what you understood him to say.  You may be surprised at the difference in what your co-worker was trying to state and what you heard.  He may be surprised that you really listened.  Then continue with, “Now I want to hear what the rest of you think.”


We all listen and process other people’s words against our own experiences.  We assign importance to situations according to how important a situation is to us.  For example, someone might say, “Mary was in an accident.”  If the person delivering the information’s past experience with “an accident” involved running into another car’s bumper and your past experience involved the death of a family member, you will both interpret these words and their meaning differently.  Without further clarification by the deliverer of the message, you may assume that Mary is in the hospital badly hurt.


If you really listen to the ideas of others, then when you speak, your co-workers will want to hear your opinion.  Remember; use your mouth half as much as you use your ears to become a stronger communicator.  It is not the amount of time you are speaking, but the quality of the communication that takes place that counts.


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