Working Strategies: When over-confidence is the problem

Jul 14, 2016, 01:19 AM

Career Corner is a program produced by the Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network, part of State Services for the Blind, and it is recorded for people are blind or have reading disabilities. You can listen to the stream of the Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network at www.mnssb.org/rtb, and the password is RTB. Your host, for Career Corner is Anne Obst.

Music Working Strategies: When over-confidence is the problem • Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) • Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) • • Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window) • Submit to Stumbleupon (Opens in new window) • • By Amy Lindgren May 1, 2016 Did you happen to see last week’s column on being at a loss for words during key job search processes? I was describing ways to overcome a natural reticence to speak when faced with situations where speaking isn’t optional: interviews, networking, phone conversations with potential employers, etc. If this is a problem you struggle with, you already know the impact it can have on your job search. But what if you have the opposite problem? What if you’re actually a little too quick on your feet, or glib in your answers? Is it possible to be over-confident about having a way with words? I think the answer is yes; it is indeed possible to over-estimate your ability to communicate, or conversely, to under-estimate the possibly negative impact that your words will have. What’s more, I think we’ve all made these errors, probably multiple times. For example, you may recall launching into a story during an interview, only to discover that you were revealing much more than you intended. Or perhaps you answered a potential employer’s question a little too candidly (did you really need to tell the whole truth when asked about your last boss’ management style?). Count yourself lucky if this sounds familiar. At least you know that over-talking is your weakness. It’s the kind of problem that typically comes with its own built-in blind spot, which means that some people can burn through multiple interviews before realizing the problem might be them, and not the market. As a remedy, I could tell you to watch the interviewer’s body language or facial expressions for signs that you are approaching quicksand. But truthfully, if you’re an over-talker, the ability to read these signs is probably not your strong suit. Instead, I’m going to advise a three-part process to apply before, during and after whatever fateful question could prove to be your undoing. • Part 1 of the process is simple: Just pause before answering. Even a few seconds will give you time to review your answer before verbalizing it. The pause will also make you seem more thoughtful, which is something naturally glib people can’t take for granted. While you’re pausing, take a moment to consider the question itself. Most questions are fine to answer candidly, but there are a few that I recommend sidestepping, because they can be veritable landmines for a chatty candidate. These include queries that ask you to rank past bosses, to describe conflicts you’ve had in the workplace, or to explain unhappy outcomes to past jobs. While you can’t just ignore these questions, you can almost certainly answer in less detail than you’re naturally inclined to give. One more tip for this stage: If you’ve discovered that certain questions always trip you up, it’s worth preparing scripted answers for them. Practice until your responses feel natural and unscripted, but also concise. • Part 2 of the process involves a recovery operation during the interview when you realize that you’ve blown an answer. In this case, use humor, charm or humility to ask for a re-do. As in, “That didn’t come out quite right. Let me just backtrack for a minute and give a better explanation.” Of course, that’s a risk too — what’s to keep you from simply digging a deeper hole for yourself? If you think that’s a possibility, you might be better off let...