Job Interview Nightmares: How to Stay Smart if You Have Nothing Left to Say

Millennials are the most qualified, underpaid, overworked generation of today's digital age.

However, before they even get into the corporate world, they still have to pass through the nightmares of the job interview. The competition nowadays is becoming laborious each year, requiring an applicant to possess valuable work experience to stand out among thousands of aspirants.

The problem is: how could they stay smart in front of the job interviewer if they have nothing left to say aside from their academic achievements and university seminars?

It's hard to go into the battlefield without knowing who you are fighting against.

Source: Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

THE "SELFIE" GENERATION OF NARCISSISTS

An article from Forbes listed down reasons why millennials are struggling to get jobs. One of the five causes is the issue of overconfidence and higher expectations. A lot of millennials (born between the year 1980-2000) have issues of entitlement. They always believe that they deserve better - higher salary, special treatment, and faster promotion even without prior relevant experience. Oh, the generation of "selfie" addicts (most of them) who have an excessive amount of amazement to their own skills, beauty, and talents.

I am a millennial. But to tell you honestly, no millennial will ever admit to one's self that he is a narcissist. Instead, this behavior is seen by the people surrounding the millennial through his words, actions, and core values or principles. In the Johari Window, it is the kind of person's awareness that is evident to the public but hidden to himself, called "the blind self". Listed below are some of the subtle manifestations that a millennial is becoming a narcissist:

  1. When in a conversation, he's always talking about himself like the places he traveled, his most recent achievements, his admirable physical traits, etc.
  2. He constantly creates a fantasy world because living in the reality doesn't satisfy his grandiose standard of happiness, success, and independence.
  3. And of course, the most obvious -  taking selfies more than twice a day with a caption that is not even related to the photo.

This is a comprehensive guide for spotting and coping with a narcissist.


A vain woman looking at herself in the mirror
Source: Photo by Alina Miroshnichenko on Unsplash

Narcissism is a personality disorder, it's a loud alarm in a public park that tells everyone to get rid of you. Nobody likes to talk to a person who doesn't listen but constantly talks about himself, right?

HOW DOES CORPORATE INTERVIEW WORK?

Remember this: an interviewer will never ask a question that is already on your CV (curriculum vitaé) or résumé. If he does, he is only testing the consistency of the information you presented in those documents.

Gone are the days where being too honest about your achievements will land you a job offer. Today is year 2018, and so does the way interviewers hire the right employee. Time is of the essence. You should be able to impress your potential boss within the first 5 minutes of your conversation.

STAYING SMART IS THE KEY

Yes, you read it right. Employers are on the lookout for smart employees when they are hiring! But you will say that not all people are smart -- as in "intellectually" smart with an IQ level of a genius. I always love to quote Harvard professor Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) when I tackle the diversity of human knowledge. Being a smart person is evident on a lot of factors such as the following:

  • Linguistic Intelligence ("word smart")
  • Logical-mathematical Intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
  • Spatial Intelligence ("picture smart")
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence ("body smart")
  • Musical Intelligence ("music smart")
  • Interpersonal Intelligence ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence ("self-smart")
  • Naturalistic Intelligence ("nature smart")

Not all people are gifted with all of these types of intelligence. If you possess at least one of the above (well I believe you should), then you are good to go. Making use of this intelligence to stand out in an interview, likewise, is in your hand. Expressing yourself creatively during an interview will leave you a unique mark on the employer. Nobody wants a robot in the workplace. You must be an "interesting" candidate. You already are. You just have to prove it.

panel interview interrogation
Source: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

HOW TO STAY SMART

You don't have to bring the whole menu on the table. The employer will notice your best traits as they read your personality. They hire people who:

1. HAVE GOALS  AND AMBITION

Not everything is work-related. It is not good to always give promises during the interview. It is often the tendency when asked about "what is your goal?" and you will tell them the classic scripted response "to contribute to the betterment of the company". Everyone can do that. Instead tell them your personal stories like how were you able to lose weight, how you saved money to pay for your college tuition in spite of family issues, or how were you able to finish your thesis when all the panelists were against your research. Things like that will give your employer a hint of how your work etiquettes will affect the company's growth someday.

It is not good to always give promises during the interview. It is often the tendency when asked about what is your goal.

2. CAN CONTRIBUTE AND NOT JUST TAKE AWAY

We have all been stuck in that kind of relationship where we got exhausted in always giving something and never receive anything in return. You and your workplace are not far away from that picture. In the interview, be specific and transparent with your employer about the things you can contribute. For instance, "I love talking to people, convincing is my talent". This simple statement, without you promising anything or bragging about your quality as an "influencer", can give a spark of light to your employer that you can be the next project leader in the making!

We have all been stuck in that kind of relationship where we got exhausted in always giving something and never receive anything in return.

3. DO NOT ALWAYS AGREE

Are you the kind of person who follows the rules at all times? There's nothing wrong with that. At some point, we all have to abide by the rules. But take note that there are employers who are greatly impressed by people who are smart enough to change the game of logic and reasoning. You could be a great asset to the company if you "challenge" the rules occasionally. By doing this, you will be able to push the limit of everyone else's skills and talents in the workplace. During the interview, however, be modest and considerate enough in addressing your "violent" reactions.

You could be a great asset to the company if you challenge the rules occasionally.

4. GIVE SOLUTIONS MORE THAN PROBLEMS

Three years ago, I was working in a Japanese multi-national semiconductor company. You know how detail-oriented Japanese people work, right? So I went on to talk to my boss about the limitations of the project I was working on, the problems our team is facing, the lack of time and the deadline, and all that stuff. After about 10 minutes of pep talk, she asked me "what do you think you should do?" I was stunned. I have no answer. My advice: address your problem in detail, but make sure you have proposals at hand afterward.

Address your problem in detail, but make sure you have proposals at hand afterward.

5. VALUE FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIP

This quality may not be applicable to all types of businesses, as there are companies who don't care whether you still have time for your family or not. But believe me, if at the first stage of the interview you mention to your employer in a subtle manner that there are kids waiting for you at home, they'll have this idea that you are not playing a game. You are serious about providing the needs of your growing family and time is of the essence to you.

There are companies who don't care whether you still have time for your family or not.

6. OPEN-MINDED FOR NEW LEARNING

Admit it. You don't know anything. Employers love it when you ask questions during the interview. It shows how well you want to know the environment of the workplace first before going into the battle. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Perhaps it could be a sign of innovation that you intend to implement. By gathering facts first, you are building a new money machine for the company.

Asking questions is not a sign of weakness.

7. KNOW HOW TO CRACK A JOKE

Every once in a while, you should have a sense of humor. Pick up the right phase where you will throw your punchline. Employers love to talk with applicants who can relate to them well. This is the other type of intelligence (interpersonal skill) you should work on by now. Learn how to read between the lines, smile a little, and reciprocate the joke with a cheerful but not offensive statement.

Pick up the right phase where you will throw your punchline.


Imagine you are sitting face-to-face with your employer in an interview. Outside, there is a long queue of aspiring applicants who are way better than you. How will you leave a mark? Simple. Be smart.

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