Friday, August 08, 2014
The job interview is probably one of the most important parts of getting the job you want. It’s your opportunity to show off your skills and impress your future boss.
However, it’s easy to get nervous, which can cause you to fumble over words – and possibly even forget how to answer an easy question.
So here are 7 ways to knock the socks off the interviewer – and get the job you want:
1. Research the Company
One surefire way to impress your employer is do research on the company. Learn about the company’s mission, its customers, its competition, the industry, and read any current press releases. Visit the company’s website and learn everything you can. The more you know, the more likely you may impress your future employer.
2. Memorize Some Company Facts
Make flash cards with some key points you learned about the company. Memorize any important details you could mention in your interview to show the interviewer that you have done your research.
3. Dress to Impress
Make sure you walk into your interview dressed very well. It’s better to be over-dressed than to look like just a regular employee. You want people to see you and think you are a top-notch consultant.
Friday, August 08, 2014
There are lots of techniques for becoming more persuasive, but perhaps the simplest, most practical technique is the “But You Are Free” method. A review of 42 psychology studies (on 22,000 people) suggests this technique could double the chances someone would say “yes” to you. Read on to see how this works. If you want to, that is.
See what I did there? That’s the “But You Are Free” technique, basically: Make a request, but acknowledge the other person has a choice. PsyBlog explains that this persuasion technique reaffirms the person’s freedom of choice and indirectly tells the other person that you’re not threatening his/her ability right to say no.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
It’s no accident that goal-setting pervades so many areas of modern life.
There are hundreds of research studies going back decades showing that setting goals can increase people’s performance.
Most have heard the goal-setting mantra that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T.); but few recognise the dangers of poor goal-setting and the unintended consequences that can follow.
Here’s how to avoid four common problems with goal-setting, which are highlighted by Ordonez et al. (2009) at the Harvard Business School.
1. Too specific
The problem with setting goals that are too specific is that they can bias people’s behaviour in unintended ways. For example:
If you use goals to effectively tell a university professor that all that’s important is publishing articles, then what is going to happen to her teaching?
If you tell call-centre staff that the main thing is how quickly they answer the phone, what’s going to happen to how they deal with the call?
Very specific goals can degrade overall performance by warping the way people view their jobs.
Better goals: keep them somewhat vague. This gives people control and choice over how they do their jobs. When people are given vaguer goals they can take into account more factors: in short it makes them think for themselves. It’s no wonder that having control is strongly linked with job satisfaction.
2. Too many goals
Perhaps the answer, then, is to set loads of goals which cover all aspects of a person’s work? Not necessarily, as that introduces its own problems.
For one thing people tend to concentrate on the easiest goal to the exclusion of the others. For example, in one study participants were given both quality and quantity goals related to a task. When quantity goals were easier to achieve than quality, they focused mostly on quantity.
This study is showing how a well-meaning goal can warp people’s behaviour in unintended directions.
Better goals: limit the total number of goals. Apart from anything else, who can remember 10 or 20 goals they are supposed to be working towards?
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
And yet the messy desk can attract smirks and even censure in the office.
So, how to solve the great messy/tidy desk debate? Who is right?
Well, new research has found that order and disorder in the environment have different psychological consequences.
In their first experiment participants were asked to fill out some questionnaires in an office (Vohs et al., 2013). Some did it while the office was clean and tidy and others did so when it was messy, with office supplies and papers strewn about.
Afterwards they had the chance to donate to charity and choose a healthy or unhealthy snack. The results showed that:
“Being in a clean room seemed to encourage people to do what was expected of them. Compared with participants in the messy room, they donated more of their own money to charity and were more likely to choose the apple over the candy bar.”
So the workplace that wants compliance and good behaviour is probably right to put a premium on tidy desks.
What, though, if you want creativity?
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
If some job satisfaction surveys are to be believed then as many as a third of us are considering a change of job. Clearly many are finding it hard to get that feeling of satisfaction from work.
Job satisfaction is important not just because it boosts work performance but also because it increases our quality of life. Many people spend so much time at work that when it becomes dissatisfying, the rest of their life soon follows.
Everyone’s job is different but here are 10 factors that psychologists regularly find are important in how satisfied people are with their jobs.
1. Little hassles
If you ask doctors what is the worst part of their jobs, what do you think they say? Carrying out difficult, painful procedures? Telling people they’ve only got months to live? No, it’s something that might seem much less stressful: administration.
We tend to downplay day-to-day irritations, thinking we’ve got bigger fish to fry. But actually people’s job satisfaction is surprisingly sensitive to daily hassles. It might not seem like much but when it happens almost every day and it’s beyond our control, it hits job satisfaction hard.
This category is one of the easiest wins for boosting employee satisfaction. Managers should find out about those little daily hassles and address them—your employees will love you for it.
2. Perception of fair pay
Whatever your job, for you to be satisfied the pay should be fair. The bigger the difference between what you think you should earn and what you do earn, the less satisfied you’ll be.
The important point here is it’s all about perception. If you perceive that other people doing a similar job get paid about the same as you then you’re more likely to be satisfied with your job than if you think they’re getting more than you.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Find your balance
Experts say you only have a few seconds to make a first impression. What exactly happens in those few seconds that determine whether someone likes or respects you?
It turns out, when others are sizing you up, they’re measuring your “strength” and “warmth,” characteristics, according to communication strategists Matt Kohut and John Neffinger in their book Compelling People, which is currently being taught at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools.
Strength is your capacity to make things happen with skills and willingness while warmth is the sense that you share the same feelings, interests, and view of the world as the person you’re speaking to.
“The discovery of strength and warmth that John and I had came from our early clients,” says Kohut. “They were either very accomplished and smart people to the point that they seem only interested in themselves and come off very cold and unfeeling. Or they were the nicest people in the world, but they were falling all over themselves apologizing and we feel like they won’t be able to deliver when the shops are down.”
Monday, July 14, 2014
It is for this reason (and many more) that music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativity--but does music itself help one to create?
This is an important question to examine, because music has increasingly become apart of the modern-day work session.
The soldiers of yore may have faced insurmountable odds to the sound of trumpets, but we desk jockeys are typically left to fend off our piling inboxes with nothing more than iTunes.
With so much of our work now being done at computers, music has become an important way to “optimize the boring.”
Though it may be a fine way to avoid habituation, the question remains: does music actually make you more productive? More focused? More creative? Or is all that a placebo?
People like me need to know. For nearly all of my work sessions, I have music playing in the background. I once wrote 10,529 words on customer loyalty (how exciting) listening to nothing other than the SimCity 2000 soundtrack--and yes, more on that later.
Am I actively sabotaging myself, or is music spurring me to do better work?
Let’s take a look at the research.
MUSIC MAY HELP MAKE REPETITIVE TASKS EASIER
When evaluating music’s effectiveness in increasing productive output, one element to consider how “immersive” the task at hand is.
This refers to the variability and creative demand of the task--writing a brand new essay from scratch is synthesis work that demands a lot of creativity; answering your emails is mundane work that does not.
When the task is clearly defined and is repetitive in nature, the research seems to suggest that music is definitely useful.
A series of experiments has investigated the relationship between the playing of background music during the performance of repetitive work and efficiency in performing such a task. The results give strong support to the contention that economic benefits can accure from the use of music in industry.
More modern studies would argue that it perhaps isn’t the background noise of the music itself, but rather the improved mood that your favorite music creates that is the source of this bump in productivity.
Music with a dissonant tone was found to have no impact to productivity, while music in the major mode had different results: “Subjects hearing BGM (background music) achieved greater productivity when BGM was in the major mode.”
The effects music can have in relation to repetitive tasks were further explored in this study, which showcased how assembly line workers displayed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music.
Monday, July 14, 2014
For many of us, the idea of having a job that is truly satisfying – the kind where work doesn’t feel like work anymore – is pure fantasy. Sure, professional athletes, ski patrollers, and golf pros may have found a way of doing what they love and getting paid for it. But is there actually anyone out there who dreams of sitting at a desk and processing paper, or watching products fly by them on conveyor belts, or working to solve other people’s problems?
Career dreams are one thing; practical reality is often another. When they happily coincide, seize the opportunity and enjoy it! Luckily, when they do not, it’s good to know that it is possible to get job satisfaction from a practical choice of career. Job satisfaction doesn’t have to mean pursuing the ultra-glamorous or making money from your hobby. You can work at job satisfaction, and find it in the most unexpected places…
The heart of job satisfaction is in your attitude and expectations; it’s more about how you approach your job than the actual duties you perform. Whether you work on the farm, a production line, in the corner office or on the basketball court, the secret is to understand the key ingredients of your unique recipe for job satisfaction.
Identify your Satisfaction Triggers
There are three basic approaches to work: is it a job, a career, or a passion? Depending on which type of work you are in right now, the things that give you satisfaction will vary.
If you work at a JOB, the compensation aspects of the position will probably hold more appeal than anything else, and have the greatest impact on whether you stay or go.
If you work at a CAREER, you are looking for promotions and career development opportunities. Your overall satisfaction is typically linked with your status, power, or position.
If you work at a PASSION, the work itself is the factor that determines your satisfaction, regardless of money, prestige, or control.
Inevitably, these are generalizations, and you will probably find that you get satisfaction from more than one approach to work. Being aware of the type of work you are doing, and the things you need for job satisfaction, will help you to identify and adjust your satisfaction expectations accordingly.
Monday, July 14, 2014
IJoe Clueless (a real person whose name I’ve changed to protect the guilty) is smart, handsome, and hardworking. Yet he’s been let go many times from corporate jobs and now, at 45, is a substitute teacher.
Joe needed all these lessons. Perhaps even you could use one or two:
LESSON 1. Joe was unduly negative: “That idea will never work.” or “This company isn’t going anywhere.” Even if you’re right, you pay a big likeability price for each complaint. So, when tempted to be negative, assess whether the benefit is worth the likely liability: Is this person open to criticism? Have you criticized him too often in the past? How likely is it she’ll change her mind?
You also improve your risk/reward ratio if you criticize only when you can propose (tactfully) a likely acceptable solution. Otherwise, you’re just seen as a whiner.
LESSON 2. Joe assumed that his obvious intelligence justified a know-it-all style. Even if your statements are brilliant, that style unnecessarily demeans everyone else. And who knows, even you might occasionally be wrong. So, make assertions in a way that allows for the possibility you’re incorrect, for example, “I think (insert your statement.) What do you think?”
Rule of thumb: If your argument is rejected, take no more than one more stab at it. If that doesn’t work, drop it. Pursuing it further is more likely to brand you as stubborn than to change minds.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Be effective where you are
You think landing a great job is important? Even more important is whether you make the most of it. These rules show you how:
-- Don’t let the cement dry. My daughter got a job in the White House. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was to answer letters to Socks, the Clintons’ cat. I told her: “Right now, your feet are in wet cement. Unless you get pulled out now, you’ll probably be stuck there. Tell your boss, ‘I’m willing to pay my dues but I believe I could contribute more. I’m a pretty good writer and researcher,” In two weeks, my daughter was writing Hillary’s daily briefing. Moral: Don’t like your first job description? Tactfully ask for a change.
-- Be Time-Effective. Jiminy Cricket sat on Pinocchio’s shoulder, ever whispering advice in the long-nosed marionette’s ear. The most productive employees also have a little voice on their shoulder ever whispering in their ear, ‘Is this the most time-effective way?” Not, “Is this the fastest?” Not, “Is this the highest-quality?” But “Is this the most time-effective way?”
-- Get credit. Get credit for your good work. Have a great idea? Don’t just tell your boss. Bring it up at a meeting. Have you created a draft work product you’re proud of? Consider sending it to respected colleagues for feedback…and to show them that you’re hot stuff. At evaluation time, ask, “I’ve kept a list of some work efforts I feel good about. Would you like to see it?”
-- Get the truth and get it fast. Garrison Keillor, host of A Prairie Home Companion, speaks of the imaginary Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average. In real life, also, most people think of themselves as above average, which is why most terminated employees are shocked. So, from Day One, ask for candid feedback, not just you’re your boss but from respected coworkers, customers, etc. And when you get that feedback, don’t necessarily change, but truly consider it.