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When Humility Hurts You | The Interview Process

Too often we downplay our own achievements. What sounds like bragging in your own ears is wanted and welcomed information during the interview process.

A client coming out of the military wants to land a registered nurse position in a civilian hospital. With a nice 10 year career in the Army, the client had a hard time articulating any achievement. “I can’t think of anything extraordinary in my years with the Army,” said the client. The coach asked the question a different way, “What are things you’ve done that you were personally proud of?” Then a doozie of a story came.

This client was asked to install a medical facility at a military installation. He obtained data regarding the number of military men and | women to be stationed there. He researched other personnel on location including civilian contractors. Through analysis, he determined the types of injuries and illnesses that may need treatment and then calculated the types of physicians--primary care, surgeons, etc. He created a chart to show the number of providers and clinical support staff needed as the population increased and decreased. Then he identified the equipment required for the location and with his Commanding Officer’s authorization, placed an order for equipment and outlined personnel needed. Within four months, he had established a brilliant functioning medical facility.

“Do you know how amazing this is?” the coach asked. His response, “Well, if you say so. I was just following orders.” Think of the possible job opportunities that could now be pursued with that experience!

We downplay our achievements and consider highlights to be just part of the our job. It’s often considered bragging or rude if we tout our achievements or moments of which we are proud of our outcomes in social settings. Because of this, we are rusty with communicating our talents and successes during the interview process.

Working with a career coach can be a very effective way to bring out these hidden glimmers of successes, and then figuring out how to convert them into job opportunities to pursue. Since it’s not always practical for everyone, here are a few questions to help you try and uncover brilliant moments yourself.

Tell about a time in your work you were proud of yourself--though no one else gave you recognition.

Looking back at your career, when you feel the most alive. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was around you? What was your impact on them?

In your last role, what are some events where you received recognition, an email of thanks or even a “pat on the back”?

Tell me about your scope of responsibility--did you manage a large territory, many staff members, or a particularly complex department?

Describe times when you’ve hired, trained, and developed other people. Where are they today? Any talent development successes?

Do you have any pro bono work, volunteer activities, or other community supporting roles that you may have contributed to in the past. Were any in leadership roles?

Tell about a team that you were on or worked with that managed to get something delivered that felt like it was against all odds.

Describe any personal thank you notes or emails that you’ve received from customers, colleagues, or leaders.

Describe times when there were attempts to recruit you away from a job. Were any successful? What was the circumstance? Who recruited you away?

Tell about any processes that you made easier or more streamlined.

Describe people you’ve worked with and if you’ve helped others resolve a problem or make a recommendation that worked.

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