You Are Doing It Right

christmas listA friend of mine recently posted a picture of her daughter’s Christmas wish list, which was made and displayed in her elementary school classroom throughout the holiday season.  (Yes, I did ask her permission to use and post in my blog.)

Number 4: My mommy to be nice.

See the accompanying picture – I’m not making this up.

My thought was – yep, you are doing it right.

When I was growing up my parents followed a simple philosophy: I am your parent, not your buddy.

As a parent you have a job.  In a very basic sense this job includes teaching them right from wrong; protecting them from the evils of the world and sometimes themselves; to think of a world beyond themselves; how to learn, grow, love and be independent; how to be a responsible person; how to be a respectful person – all so many different factors that you have to cram into such a short period of time.

Often as a parent you will be qualified as the “mean” one because you are actually doing your job.  If you get called mean or anything of the like then you know you are doing it right.

Display that list proudly, Natalie, all us other mean mommies applaud you!

When I saw that picture I immediately made the connection to interviewing.  Yes, this is how my mind works.

I will hear people talk about how the interviewer should call them, they should lead the interview, they should give them the job just because “given the opportunity I can do anything.”

And that would be a nice interviewer – but that is not their job.

Their job is to read through countless resumes, sift through fact from fiction, prepare for the interview and take time to talk to candidates.

They take time away from their job, billable hours, clients that need them and countless responsibilities to conduct the interview.  They have prepared, set a specific time and are giving you undivided attention and a shot.

Sometimes you are not that lucky and you get the interviewer who is, well, clueless.  They glanced over your resume but didn’t really read it, do not have questions to ask other than, “tell me about yourself” and seem distracted.

Whether you get good interviewer A or poor interviewer B you still need to respect the fact that outside of spending a little time with you, they have a job to do.

Their job isn’t to be nice and lead you along the way to the right answer.  It isn’t to fill in the blanks for information that is right in front of you.  If the posting has the job description do not ask them, “what does the job entail?”  It is right there!  Now, you can ask questions beyond the stated but for crying out loud make sure that you convey that you actually read the darn thing!

Sometimes they spring on a group interview on you; sometimes they even bring in a higher up for you to talk to.  It is not their job to say, “Now Sally, don’t be nervous, just be sure to say this, that and the other and you will be fine.”

No!  They are seeing how you deal with pressure.  Do your homework and you will be prepared for the test.  Have mommy do the homework and fail the exam.  Pretty simple.

Hiring managers are not your buddy – they are doing a job.

You can have a great rapport with them in an interview and not get the job.  Do not stomp your foot and say “that’s not fair!”  Maybe, but that’s life kid.

I can like someone and not feel that they would be a good fit in the organization.  I can take your rapport building as trying to be my buddy so I want to hire you rather than recognize the fact that you have no qualifications whatsoever.  Nice try.  Next.

It would be wonderful if after an interview you got a call back immediately to tell you if you got the job or not.  If you did not get the job it would be even better if they would tell you why, really, honestly why.  Alas, they don’t.  Throwing a fit and stomping your foot while saying, “but it isn’t fair”  or “but I deserve to know!” isn’t going to help.

And here is where I can insert one of my mom’s favorite sayings when we were kids: “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candies and nuts oh what a wonderful Christmas we would all have.”  Yeah – try growing up with that logic and sing-song phrase stuck in your head.

Rarely will they tell you much, maybe a “we went with someone with more qualifications” or “we decided to go in a different direction” or something along those lines.  They should call, I mean, don’t they realize the stress this is putting you under?  You just want to know!  You just want them to call!

Well, mothers all across the country want their child’s room to be clean and actually stay that way – let’s see who wins in that race.

For your next interview remember, that hiring manager is not your buddy.  They have a job to do.  Your job is to convince them that you are the right candidate.

That means knowing what your skills are, how they translate to that position, how you can add value and be able to demonstrate all these things.  Clean the room – don’t just shove everything in the closet or under the bed.  Mommies know that trick, we were kids once too, you know.

Do your homework: know the company, the position, the industry – as much as you possibly can.  Do not waste valuable time asking the interviewer to fill in this information.  Keep asking me how to do load a dishwasher will not get me to do it for you, it will make me find reasons to dirty every single item in the cabinets and drawers until the dishwasher is not only full but you have to do the overflow by hand.  Yeah, mommies know that trick too and we have learned how to fight back.

This is your shot – don’t blow it.  Don’t waste time sucking up – spend it demonstrating.  You have one real chance to ask for the car for that big date or event; don’t use a lackluster strategy.  Asking if you can do something for mommy because she has been so busy or telling her how pretty she is just got you a one way ticket to “what do you want and the answer is probably no if you are being that lame in approaching it”.

Take responsibility and recognize that there is another person involved here.  Sure mommies can be mean, but those are the ones that teach you the most.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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