Caleb and I were sitting in a small diner. His company had hired me to assess his fitness and ability to move to the senior management team after twenty plus years of service
I'd talked to the people he'd worked with, worked for and supervised. Everyone said he was a solid performer and he was identified as a real leader.
So there we sat.
Caleb was nervous and kept wiping the sweat from his face with a napkin.
What are you afraid of?
I don't believe I am qualified for this job.
Oh, John! You wouldn't believe some of the things I've done during my career. Stuff I'm not proud of.
Lemme ask you something. Do you regret those things. I mean if you had to do them over would you stop, think and choose a different course?
Have you made amends where you could? Did you let people know you'd goofed up and did you apologize?
Can I share something with you? I've spent the past two days talking to a wide variety of people you've worked with over the years. I'll summarize their opinion of you in three words - "Stand Up Guy." So, whatever you are doing keep doing it. As long as you keep looking at every pimple and wart you are never going to be the person you want to be.
That means all those people who respect you will never reach their potential either. The past is the past. You can't change it.
Caleb had one half of the equation down pat - He readily forgave other people. It took him awhile to understand that he needed to learn from his past, forgive himself and move forward. When he did he blossomed as a leader.
I can't tell you how many interviews I participated in where the candidate feels they have to go to confession and share every faux pas, they've committed in their life. The interviewer baits the hook by asking:
What are your weaknesses?
The flood gates usually open wide.
Tip Number One
As it relates to the position I'm applying for I have no weaknesses. I have areas I can improve in and I'm sure there will be a learning curve in the position. I am always willing to learn
Your interviewer wants you to do their work for them. Instead of trying to figure out your fitness for duty on their own, they load the gun and hand it to you.
Don't blame them.
Most people conducting job interviews receive less than 5 hours of formal training and most of that is focused on the questions you can and cant ask. Unfortunately a lot of company's believe anyone can do it.
They can't. It's one of many reasons there is so much turnover today. We'll slay that dragon another time.
Look at it this way. You have invested a lot of time, effort and resource to position yourself for the career you want. If you don't believe in you, why should anyone else.
Tip Number Two
Don't tell them about the pimple on your nose unless they ask, "Is that a pimple on your nose?"
Remember Caleb? He went to great lengths to tell me every one of his faults. Had I not spent some time doing back ground interviews I might have told the folks who hired me that Caleb wasn't the right fit for the position.
An old boss of mine put it best:
Telling the truth isn't telling everything you know
Caleb's story may be a familiar one to you. Many of you have heard me tell it before,just not in great detail.
At one point in our conversation I stood up, clicnked my spoon on my water glass and announced the following to the entire resturant.
Anyone here who has never messed up in a royal fashion at work, please stand up!!!
A few folks laughed, a few looked startled but no one stood up. I sat down and looked across the table
See, you're in good company.
So are you and so am I
Next time I'll share a technique that impressed even me when I saw it used for the first time.