My friend was conducting an interview. In an effort to get to know the candidate better, my friend asked, “So what do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?” Get this. The candidate said, “Well, I really like to nap. Yeah, mainly I just watch TV and nap. I take a lot of naps.”
Um, no. Wrong answer.
Another candidate took advantage of her interview time to harshly criticize her previous boss and, just for good measure, threw a few coworkers under the bus as well.
Again, not the best choice. But wait, I have a couple more for you.
There was the nervous Chapstick applier. She applied Chapstick every three minutes during the 30-minute interview. And I’m not sure if I’ve saved the best for last or not, but there was also the man who forgot to wear socks to the interview, so he colored his ankles with a Sharpie.
Hearing these interview fail stories makes me seriously question the intelligence of the candidates. Why would someone say that their hobby is taking a nap in front of a potential boss, or in front of anyone, ever? I’d like to say I haven’t done anything stupid during an interview, but I have. I’ve also had to apologize for things I’ve said, generally in front of large groups of people. No doubt, those are not my proudest moments.
When people interview for jobs, verbal and nonverbal communication largely determine the future. The interview environment is strange. The interaction needs to sound conversational, but is really more of an impromptu performance exacerbated by the fact that the questions are largely unpredictable. Maybe I shouldn’t think that is strange. As the self-professed communication evangelist, I’m constantly teaching that communication determines success in every other part of your life. Maybe we are just far more aware of the reality during an interview, even though the rest of our lives contain that same indisputable truth.
Essentially, aren’t others also interviewing us as Jesus’s followers? And if so, do we really want our answers to be “I’m lazy, I’m critical, I’m nervous, and I draw on my own ankles?”
How would things change if we knew how strongly interpersonal communication determines success? How would that change our thoughts, words, and actions with our families, churches and communities? Would we be more respectful, more thoughtful, more positive, more strategic, more compassionate, or more something else? Would we practice more, pray for more wisdom, and beg for God’s guidance?
Do we sincerely strive to improve our communication as we mature, as we strive to improve in other spiritual areas? If we don’t, why not? I find that my clients mainly think about their communication skills during stress, conflict, and nervousness. But if that’s the only time we are working on improving communication, then we are putting ourselves in a position to fail.
We can do better.
If we do want to improve our communication skills as we mature, pick one of the above changes. Just one. It will make a big difference, I promise. I pray with full confidence in God’s desire for us to serve him effectively, and know that he will honor that sincere request.