Interviews, First Dates, and Red Flags

Bob is excited.

He hasn’t been on a date in a while and Alice was pretty enough he told himself.

Bob’s mom had told him to just keep being himself and eventually the perfect “one” would come along. Is this the night she’s right?

No. Bob’s mom is wrong again.

Alice is nervous.

Alice gave Bob her number after meeting him at a bar last week. He seemed nice enough – and nothing looked too creepy on his instagram.

Alice has been on so many bad dates she stopped getting her hopes up.

In other words, the bar for a good date in Alice’s book is REALLY low.

But Alice is about to be disappointed again.


RED FLAG NUMBER 1*

When Bob first saw Alice, he was half-buzzed at the local sports bar. He elbowed his buddy Jim, “Hey, Jimbo, smoke show at 5 o’clock, checker out!” Before Jim could stop him, Bob made a beeline for Alice.

Only God and Alice know what he said, but to Jim’s surprise, Bob came back with her number.

A few days later, Bob told Jim he and Alice were going to dinner.*


RED FLAG NUMBER 2**

Instead of offering to pick Alice up, Bob tells her to meet him at the restaurant. Bob chose a local dive bar that has great burgers. Alice has never been, but decides maybe it could be fun.

Bob has already been there for a couple hours. He’s sitting at a table with several other guys. Alice walks in and Bob does one of those awkward hand gestures in the air to motion her over. When Alice walks up, Bob tells his friends, “This is the girl I was telling you about.” When Alice walks up, Bob high fives her.

Alice, polite, plays along.


RED FLAG NUMBER 3***

Alice tries to make polite conversation with Bob. She figures she’ll give it a chance. But Bob doesn’t get it. Instead of reciprocating questions, Bob talks. And talks. And talks.

Bob drones on about everything from his ex girlfriend and his fantasy football roster to how much money he makes and how cool his friends think he is.

Bob doesn’t ask Alice any questions. Instead, he tries to impress her by talking the entire time.


RED FLAG NUMBER 4****

After an hour and a half nonstop soliloquy, Alice interrupts Bob to attempt an exit. Bob hardly takes notice at first and keeps talking. Alice has to stand up from the table for Bob to break his stream of consciousness.

Bob – thinking the date went great – invites Alice over for a night cap. She politely declines.

Bob: “We should do this again sometime.”

Alice: “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.”

Bob: “Really? I thought we had a great time.”

Alice: “Thanks for dinner, Bob. I really better be going.”


Assuming the candidate isn’t an axe murderer and brings it up in the interview – the above scenarios cover a number of the most common red flags to run away from. If you’re a hiring manager and have ever felt like Alice, God bless you.

*RED FLAG NUMBER 1:

Let’s pretend Bob is the candidate. He doesn’t know anything about the company – but he heard it sounded cool. He does no research before showing up. He took no notes on his initial phone screen call. Bob treats this role and company as if it’s no different than any other company.

Bob’s approach to the job hunt is like a drunk guy on a bar hitting on girls – with a quantity over quality approach. If Bob just hits on enough girls, surely one will talk to him.

This often comes out in the interview quickly. Look for key phrases from the candidate like, “What do you all do here?” or “I just thought the company sounded cool.”

**RED FLAG NUMBER 2:

Bob shows up to the interview unprepared. It looks like he rolled out of bed and made no effort to present himself. Plus, he’s behaving way too informally – acting chummy like everyone is an old college buddy.

He talks about the position as if it’s already a foregone conclusion. He’s not making any extra effort to stand out.

***RED FLAG NUMBER 3:

During the interview, Bob drones on and on. He takes 5 minutes or more to answer every question. He talks only about himself. He overshares information. He talks poorly about former employers and co-workers. He blames other people for mistakes. His best examples of experience are things that don’t indicate he has a depth of knowledge or expertise in.

Bob also asks no relevant questions himself. Bob takes no interest in the interviewer, the company’s mission, or the results that drive the role he’s applying for.

Bob does not reference how he can create value for the company – and seems entirely unconcerned with value creation. Instead, Bob focuses solely on himself.

***RED FLAG NUMBER 4:

Bob demonstrates he is socially unaware. Both from his interactions with the people he’s encountered while on site and the way he phrases some questions.

Bob borders on inappropriate with some comments. Something strange about Bob just gives you a creepy feeling, too. Bob tries to extend the conversation beyond the point it has clearly ended – suggesting he’s not aware nor respectful of others’ time.

Bob is also over-assuming. He behaves as if the interview is nothing more than a formality to get the job.

Don’t be like Bob.

*This post was originally published on Quora in response to the question What is the biggest red flag to hear when being interviewed?

When Ideas are Most Vulnerable

Ideas are most vulnerable when they're first conceived.

If you don't take immediate action to move them forward, they'll most likely die.

That's not to say good ideas become bad ideas the longer they remain dormant. Rather, that advancing them forward immediately increases the likelihood of bringing them to life.

Consider some of the ideas you've had in your life. How many have come to pass? What's different between the ones that survived and those that died?

For me, it all depends on how quickly I took action. The longer I go without taking a step forward with an idea, the more likely I am to abandon it.

Ideas don't count as progress. Execution does. I never want to be that guy at the bar wearing his letterman jacket yelling about how he had the idea for Amazon back in his day. The difference is that guy never takes steps toward fulfilling his ideas...

You won't make the world a better place with ideas. You've got to bring them into reality for them to matter.

 

 

To Keep A Streak Alive You Just Need One

Joe DiMaggio stills holds the record longest streak for consecutive games with a hit.

To keep his streak alive, he didn't need multiple hits each game. He didn't need home runs. He just needed one good at bat and one good pitch.

It's a good reminder – progress doesn't have to be monumental each day. Just keep showing up and make one pitch count. Consistency compounds.

*In honor of keeping my one post per day streak alive, I'm typing this while pumping gas somewhere in Arkansas. Sophie, my Bernese Mountain doggo and I are well into a 1,200 mile road trip across country. But, that's no excuse to let pitches go by.

 

What is the best way to get a job easily?

This is a story about Jack.

Jack wants a job. Any job. He needs money because allowance from his parents isn’t paying the bills anymore.

But Jack has never had to apply for a job before. So he did what most people do. Jack Googled “How do I get a job?”

After getting lost reading several dozen how-tos and subreddits Jack got worried. None of the advice told him what he could do today.

Jack was sad, confused, and still broke.

Jack doesn’t have any experience. He doesn’t have a resume – let alone a “good” resume. He still needs a job and his online reading made him feel like an unqualified loser.

But Jack wasn’t going to give up that easy. He decided he’d go visit some local businesses in-person to see what he could do.

The first place he visits is the grocery store, where he’s greeted by a manager. Jack asks him about the now hiring sign he saw outside – “How could I work for you?”

The manager tells him that he’s looking for people who will work hard and show up on time. He asks Jack if he can do that.

Jack tells him he’s never had a job before. “I’m willing to give it my best try.”

The manager tells him he’s leery of anyone who has never worked before. “I’ve had a lot of people applying for this job, son,” he tells Jack, “Why should I hire you?”

Jack doesn’t know, so he tells the manager the only answer he can think of – the truth.

“Honestly, sir, I don’t know why you should pick me over anyone else, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn.”

The manager tells Jack to come back Saturday for a test run. “You get one shot to prove yourself, don’t be late.”

On Saturday, Jack showed up early.

He got a new haircut the night before, and picked out clean clothes. His shirt is tucked in and he’s wearing a belt.

The manager greets him again. He tells him he’d like Jack to sweep the floor to start and points him to the back room where the brooms are kept.

Jack doesn’t wait for instructions. Jack races to the back room. He grabs the dust mop and he sets off around the store.

When he encounters guests, Jack politely waits for them to move.

One guest stopped Jack. “Sir, do you know which aisle I can find the grape jelly?”

Jack doesn’t know, so he tells her the only answer he can think of – the truth. “No, ma’am, I do not. But give me one second to find out and I’ll be right back.”

Jack races to the front of the store, reading the signs as he moves. There, on aisle two, he spots it: “Condiments.” And he tears down the aisle, grabs a jar of Smucker’s Grape, and hurries back to the customer.

“Ma’am, I went ahead and grabbed you a jar, but the grape jelly is on aisle two, so you know next time.”

The customer smiles and accepts the jelly. She tells Jack how nice it is to meet such a polite young lad, and that she’d have to put in a nice word with his boss.

When the manager heard the customer’s story, he found Jack and told him he’d like to give him a shot.

Jack’s heart did cartwheels. He found a job! But he wanted to be sure why. So he asked.

“Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to take a chance on me? After all, I don’t have any skills.”

The manager told Jack he passed the test with flying colors.

“You told me the truth. You showed up on time. You jumped to get to work when you first got here. You wore a smile. You put the customer’s needs over your task at hand. You’re just the kind of person we want to teach.”

Jack beamed all the way home that day. He knew he had learned a valuable lesson.

Getting a job wasn’t as difficult as he first feared.

It was okay he didn’t know how to get a job – because he was willing to ask what it took, and go out of his way to prove he could do it.

It was okay that he didn’t have skills – because he was honest about it.

It was okay that he didn’t have experience – because he was willing to prove he’d work hard to learn.

Jack’s story can teach us all a lot. Regardless of what job we’re trying to land.

Jack’s whatever-it-takes attitude, paired with his commitment to proving it paid off for him.

And next time you’re looking for a job, it could pay off for you, too.

--

*I originally published this post on Quora in response to the question What is the best way to get a job easily?

About Mitchell


Mitchell is a cowboy turned startup professional and Director of Marketing @ Crash. He’s a former champion meat grader. Author of Don’t Do Stuff You Hate. Narrator of Why Haven’t You Read This Book? And previously Chief of Staff at Ceterus – where he helped scale a team from 20 to 150 while quadrupling revenue.

He’s radical about creating a better future and helping others do the same. Unsolvable problems and conspiracies are his favorite conversation genres. The keys to his heart – fine Bordeaux and Hemingway novels.

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