Employers are continuing the process of adjusting their interview style away from the very traditional review of your previous experience and job history, and more towards your behavior and motivation. As this has occurred, what Interviewers are looking for has changed as the focus on the conversation has progressed. Unfortunately, many Job Seekers have not adjusted to this new approach.

Most Interviewers have long moved past who is the most qualified based on what you have done on paper (your application and resume), and now weigh heavily on what type of employee you would be if you joined them. I frequently receive messages from Job Seekers about how they have all of these qualifications and are not being hired. In some situations, it could be that there are others more qualified or the Hiring Manager preferred someone who projected better as a productive, team-oriented employee.

One of the factors that will be considered when determining what type of employee you will be is your willingness to take ownership for yourself and your situation. What employers are hoping to avoid, is hiring a person who blames others and their environment for every tough spot or situation they find themselves in. Hiring Managers would much rather see candidates who take ownership or accountability for their actions and success.

This is much more complex for a Job Seeker than just being positive or happy during the interview. This requires some degree of self-reflection and a high degree of restraint (especially if you truly were in a very toxic situation with your previous employer). With today’s Interviewers, you are usually allowed one moment of blame but a pattern of criticizing your previous Manager(s) and employers will not be looked at fondly.
In particular, you should avoid blaming your environment for de-motivating you. The belief is that lower performers will blame others for their lack of motivation, while high performers will motivate themselves and will rise above their situation.

Display energy and excitement in the interview and focus on the opportunity that lies ahead of you. Speak less about why you want to leave your current employer (or left employers before that), and more about what you want to accomplish at this one. If you pause and think about it…what is there really for you to gain by criticizing others in your past? There is very little chance that it will benefit your candidacy in the eyes of the prospective employer.

To explore this topic further, if you are critical of your Manager then, most leaders will question whether you will be satisfied by them. Perhaps you are an employee that always has an issue with leadership regardless of the organization or leader?

Perhaps even more damaging, is when you blame your environment for your lack of achievement, progression, or performance. Rarely do you hear a high performer make “excuses” about how external factors prohibited them from having success. Folks who are less productive will “blame” management decisions, bad policies, or faulty equipment. A couple of the character traits I have always looked for, is the ability to be self-depreciating and self-aware of any potential development items. High achievers will acknowledge and learn from their errors, and will know their areas of development need because they are focused on improving them.

It is important to remember that an ideal work environment does not likely exist for anyone. In any situation, we have to overcome hurdles of varying degrees in order to reach success. In today’s fast-changing world, even if you perhaps begin to approach an optimal situation, something is likely to happen to disrupt it. The ability to deal with change and still thrive is one of the most desired traits of an employee.

What employers are looking for is not some secret recipe; it is just that the generic and overused descriptors, such as good attitude and hard worker, have been replaced with terms such as being self-motivated or a goal achiever. What this means for you, as a Job Seeker, is you have to work a little harder to get your point across, such as providing examples of how you have exceeded goals, overcome obstacles, raised standards and come up with new ideas. It is about you and what you can do in any environment, and how you will do the same for this new prospective company.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein


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