Advice For Your Job Interview
Two years ago I lost my job and found myself, for the first time since I was 20 years old, looking for a job. I suppose I had never really had a "job" in the 25 years of me being employed because it rarely felt like work. I was a teacher! I began my career teaching blind students. We learned all kinds of things from each other. I taught them how to become filmmakers and they taught me to stop and listen for my Mom's footsteps when she came into the house, they taught me to not rush eating my lunch because each item had a different texture and flavor...basically ... I taught them math, reading and writing, and they taught me about LIFE!
Then I went on to teach for actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. I taught their children as well as all of the most amazing children in our village. Again, I taught movie making, music composition ... and they taught me about the ins and outs of being a celebrity. I learned about keeping kids safe while expanding their worlds. I learned about joy and sorrow.
And when that school closed, I figured I would just go right back to my public school and start teaching there again. Wrong! There were a few problems...1) I had 25 years of experience in a classroom...they were only accepting 3. 2) I had too much education and masters...they wanted teachers with none, so they didn't have to pay them as much.
So the very thing that I knew, breathed and identified my entire career with, was suddenly gone. My Focus had nothing to Focus on. I had nothing to Achieve or Learn. And there's nothing more sad than Positivity on a depressed day.
I'm sure my husband was a little worried, so he tried to help by finding me jobs to apply for. He found on, in particular, that he thought I'd be great for. It wasn't really my "thing" (whatever that was anymore), but I went. I got dressed up, drove to LA and had a pretty good interview...until they asked me this question: "What sets you apart from the other candidates?"
(Hmmm... I have no idea. Who are they? What are they like?) All of my attention was immediately drawn to a group of people that I had never met or didn't know anything about. I was tongue tied.
After I left that interview, here's what my thoughts were: "That will NEVER happen to me again. Because I KNOW who I am! I just want to run right back up those steps and give them my REAL answer!" ....And you know what that real answer would have been??? Here's what it would have sounded like had I marched back in the building:
"You know, I don't know who the other candidates are, but even without knowing them, I can definitely tell you what sets me apart from them.
#1 I am an Achiever. That means I work hard and have a great deal of stamina. I take great satisfaction in being productive. My inner drive to accomplish things is intense, full of energy and has an incredible work ethic to get it done, and get it done right.
But that's not all! I am also a Learner and have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. If there are new things to learn, you will have just lit my mind on fire of possibilities of the things I can enjoy learning. And I love to learn with teams of people!
#3 I have Focus. I can take direction, follow through and make the necessary corrections to stay on task. I prioritize then act. This can look intense at times, especially when paired with my Achiever. If there is a goal that needs to be met, I will do my best to get it done. I am persistent, dependable and follow-through.
#4 My Positivity colors my world. It touches all that I do. I use this talent to cheer myself up when I'm in the midst of a long, and difficult task, and also to cheer up others around me. I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The glass is always half full.
And last, I have Woo. Woo is Winning Others Over. There is no greater joy than meeting new people and winning them over. I love to break the ice and make connections with other people. In this position, if you need to bring social energy to a room, I'm your girl!
If I had said those words, like I wanted to, after I left, It wouldn't have mattered if they hired me or not. Because I would have told them exactly who I was. And if that's not what they were looking for, it wouldn't bother me. But, seriously, who wouldn't want someone who can work hard, focus on learning everything there is to learn about new things, then bringing people in to celebrate all the work that the company had accomplished....and ALL with a good attitude!!?
My point is this. Know. Your. Strengths. Know them well enough that when you are in an interview, and your prospective employer asks what makes you different from all the others...you will HAVE an answer!
Have a ready answer when someone asks you about your Strengths. Be able to articulate them. Practice! (Yep, sounds weird, but when you are in the moment, you'll be so happy you have a ready answer! You never know when those opportunities will pop up in your life. Be prepared for them!)
Rock Your Strengths!
(And let me know when you get that job so we can all celebrate with you!) Oh, what job did I end up getting? I worked for Discovery, Google and Apple as an education consultant, I started my own Strengths business and now am working on marketing a brand new skincare line! I'm also the worship leader at my church, mother of 2 almost grown daughters and wife to a pastor. Basically, I'm retired now! Retired...because I only do things now that I am completely passionate about! It's just how I like it!