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Attention Interviewers: No One Is Perfect!

February 26th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

The job interview process has turned into the “perfection process.”

It used to be that if you had 80% of the requirements you could attain the other 20% on the job, since every company is different and requires some level of acclimation. And a little “room for growth” was a good thing. Not so today. Organizations believe that they should be able to ask for the moon and if someone doesn’t have one competency on the requirements list they are bounced from the process.

It’s a plug-and-play world out there, my friends.

And that’s just to get your resume past the applicant-tracking monster that chomps and spits out resumes lacking the appropriate key words and phrases. Passing that hurdle, you begin the tortuous journey through the perfection process, often consisting of six or more interviews over a four month period. Or more. And then you are told they will get back to you in a few days, which turns into a few weeks, which may turn into not at all.

A friend of mine recently was subjected to this craziness. Multiple interviews over several months, all with positive feedback. She did all the right things to prepare, to ask good questions, to “check in” as the process progressed. She could fill the role in a heartbeat. She had been brought in by a former colleague. And in the end they told her that it turned out they weren’t hiring in the group where she would fit best. Really? Could they not have determined that earlier?

Why do people in organizations believe that inflicting this type of pain on someone is acceptable? It’s not even humane. Perhaps the perpetrators of pain were similarly tortured during their “perfection process” and feel it only fair to pass it on. It’s insane.

I used to be a recruiter for a hi-tech firm. We had very specific requirements for each position. We selected people for interviews based on those qualifications, and then we paid even closer attention to whether they would be a good fit for the organization. We were building an organization based not on perfection, but on values: what I call the two Cs – Competency and Culture.

The fact is, no one is perfect. No one has every single competency listed on the job description. And yet we have somehow created the expectation of perfection.

I say, let’s get back to basics. Instead of rejecting someone because they don’t walk on water, find out who they are as a human being. Certainly they need to be qualified for the role; yet that doesn’t need to be a 100% match. Consider whether they are someone you would want to work with side-by-side. Are they a team player? Will they “have your back” or throw you under the bus? Can they leave their ego at the door and be willing to learn? Will they put the good of the company ahead of their personal needs? Do they have a life and interests outside of work? Will they be able to bring their personality to work and be an individual versus a company drone that speaks the same, looks the same and acts the same as everyone else?

And…let’s incorporate some civility into the process. Let’s interview in a humane way that makes people feel good as they go through process instead of feeling “less than.”

“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” - George Orwell

Till next time,

Interviewing, Job search, Leadership, People

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Whatever Happened to “Please” and “Thank You”?

February 19th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

“Please”_and_“thank you”Is it just me, or have you also noticed that people seem to be increasingly cranky, rude and self-absorbed these days? Take social media. Don’t you find that it’s a bit impolite and narcissistic at times? Do we really need to know EVERYTHING you’ve done all day?

“Please” and “thank you” have all but disappeared.  And the anonymity afforded by the Internet seems to have unleashed a flood of negative and nasty comments that years ago would have kept Proctor & Gamble soap distributors in business.

Enough already.

I recently read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, a novel set in the late 1930s in New York City. It’s a great story and I highly recommend it.  The reason I mention it here is what caught my attention in the Appendix: “The Young George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and in Conversation.”  Who knew?

Apparently this is not the first time our society has suffered from a lack of kindness, civility and manners. Originally from a list made by French Jesuits in 1595, Washington wrote out the rules as a handwriting exercise when he was a teenager. There are 110 of them.  I won’t share them all, but here are four that seem especially relevant today.

1st - Every Action done in company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

25th - Superfluous Compliments and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.  
Say what you mean and mean what you say.

82nd - Undertake not what you cannot Perform and be Careful to keep your Promise. 
Do what you say you are going to do.

110th - Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.
THINK before you speak, before you write, before you act.

In the spirit of George Washington, I’d like to add some modern-day rules to the list. So here are Karen’s Rules of Civility.

  1. Smile – even at a stranger – you never know what amazing things may come of it.

  2. Say “Please.” Always.

  3. Say “Thank you” and acknowledge the gift or deed or service received.

  4. Remember, we are all human; we have good days and bad days. Don’t glory in someone else’s bad day.

  5. Listen. Put down your cell phone and engage in conversation.

  6. Be kind to one another. (Borrowed from Ellen DeGeneres).

  7. Say: “Yes, and…” not “Yes, but…” Be positive!  See the possibilities…

  8. Tell the truth. Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

  9. Thank you for listening.

    Till next time,


    Communication, Life, People

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