Headed to a job interview and worried about failing?
First, remember that someone has always done worse.
Second, and by far more important, remember this: HR professionals often ask questions knowing you might screw them up.
In fact, trying to make you screw up is the whole point: I’ll just throw this little hand grenade and see if she can defuse it before it explodes.
How to train for the interview? Rather than preparing generic answers to the same old questions everyone can expect (“What are your weaknesses?” “Why did you leave your last position?”), the savvy interviewee—that’d be you!—should have both ears open for questions that are designed to throw them off their game.
Here are a few to watch for, and how to handle them:
1. The most innocent-sounding question? “Tell me about yourself…”
As many as 80% of all interviews begin with this questions. It often leads to the most common interviewing mistakes: revealing too much.
So what’s universally accepted as too much?
Sometimes it’s a seemingly inconsequential bit of information that conflicts with your resume.
Or it’s a lack of preparedness.
Or a simple inability to express yourself clearly.
When the interviewer says “tell me about yourself,” what he or she is really doing is checking to see if you’re articulate and professional. The way you answer is as important as the things you say.
•Keep your game face on; don’t get too personal.
•Give them the facts, not your life story.
•Do your homework, know what they are looking for and design your answer accordingly.
•Ask questions and generate conversation. It’s a two-way street.
“Tell me about an instance where you failed”
Whatever you do, don’t get defensive. And avoid confessing something you regret—feeling ashamed is a shade different than talking about an error in a calm, unemotional way.
While it’s important you be prepared for this question, it’s equally important to appear perplexed by it. A touch of theater, perhaps—but true, unfortunately. You want to send the signal that thinking of a mistake requires a bit of rummaging through mental files otherwise stuffed with successes.
Start by touting your ability to work peacefully and effectively with coworkers or clients, then pause, have a think and tell the interviewer about your philosophy of dealing with regrettable situations in a timely manner so you don’t have to harp on them for years to come.
•Keep your emotions firmly in hand.
•Resist clichéd or generalized answers such as “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m too hard on myself.”
•Be honest and address the interviewer as a colleague, not a therapist or buddy.
The last tricky question is a non-question. It sounds a lot like this: Silence. Cough. Ahem.
Maybe it’s the dreaded silent treatment, or maybe it’s just a deliberately awkward pause. Either way, that quiet lull in conversation has ruffled many feathers, and it’s designed to reveal how you react under stress.
Not all interviewers will play quiet to see if the applicant will launch into nervous, oversharing chatter—but that’s how most people respond.
Luckily, you know better than to ramble. You’re cool and calm. You’re relaxed and relish the chance to catch your breath. Perhaps you even grab the opportunity to ask a question of your own.
•Look the interviewer in the eye. Don’t fidget.
•Resist the urge to fill the space unless you have something important to say.
•Ask your own questions.
•Be cool as a cucumber. Because you are.
Tough questions are a great opportunity to flex your muscle and show the employer you’re resilient, solid and made to last. Be professional, be genuine and be ready
*This article was first published on 23 July 2014 by Paul Robinson, Business Development Manager in Oil & Gas and is reprinted here with full permission.
**About the Writer:
Experienced Recruiter/Manager with over 20 years in Recruitment including 12 years in the Malaysia Oil & Gas Industry.
Paul is a member of a number of committees supporting both Malaysian, British and Australian companies. These include, MOGSC Subsurface and Drilling Committee, MOGSC Decommissioning Committee, MOGSC CTWG committee, Austrade Oil & Gas Committee Malaysia, EIC Energy Committee - Asia and most recently British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce Energy Committee.
Something interesting to share?
Join NrgEdge and create your own NrgBuzz today
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 11 February 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
Global liquid fuels
Electricity, coal, renewables, and emissions
2018 was a year that started with crude prices at US$62/b and ended at US$46/b. In between those two points, prices had gently risen up to peak of US$80/b as the oil world worried about the impact of new American sanctions on Iran in September before crashing down in the last two months on a rising tide of American production. What did that mean for the financial health of the industry over the last quarter and last year?
Nothing negative, it appears. With the last of the financial results from supermajors released, the world’s largest oil firms reported strong profits for Q418 and blockbuster profits for the full year 2018. Despite the blip in prices, the efforts of the supermajors – along with the rest of the industry – to keep costs in check after being burnt by the 2015 crash has paid off.
ExxonMobil, for example, may have missed analyst expectations for 4Q18 revenue at US$71.9 billion, but reported a better-than-expected net profit of US$6 billion. The latter was down 28% y-o-y, but the Q417 figure included a one-off benefit related to then-implemented US tax reform. Full year net profit was even better – up 5.7% to US$20.8 billion as upstream production rose to 4.01 mmboe/d – allowing ExxonMobil to come close to reclaiming its title of the world’s most profitable oil company.
But for now, that title is still held by Shell, which managed to eclipse ExxonMobil with full year net profits of US$21.4 billion. That’s the best annual results for the Anglo-Dutch firm since 2014; product of the deep and painful cost-cutting measures implemented after. Shell’s gamble in purchasing the BG Group for US$53 billion – which sparked a spat of asset sales to pare down debt – has paid off, with contributions from LNG trading named as a strong contributor to financial performance. Shell’s upstream output for 2018 came in at 3.78 mmb/d and the company is also looking to follow in the footsteps of ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP in the Permian, where it admits its footprint is currently ‘a bit small’.
Shell’s fellow British firm BP also reported its highest profits since 2014, doubling its net profits for the full year 2018 on a 65% jump in 4Q18 profits. It completes a long recovery for the firm, which has struggled since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, allowing it to focus on the future – specifically US shale through the recent US$10.5 billion purchase of BHP’s Permian assets. Chevron, too, is focusing on onshore shale, as surging Permian output drove full year net profit up by 60.8% and 4Q18 net profit up by 19.9%. Chevron is also increasingly focusing on vertical integration again – to capture the full value of surging Texas crude by expanding its refining facilities in Texas, just as ExxonMobil is doing in Beaumont. French major Total’s figures may have been less impressive in percentage terms – but that it is coming from a higher 2017 base, when it outperformed its bigger supermajor cousins.
So, despite the year ending with crude prices in the doldrums, 2018 seems to be proof of Big Oil’s ability to better weather price downturns after years of discipline. Some of the control is loosening – major upstream investments have either been sanctioned or planned since 2018 – but there is still enough restraint left over to keep the oil industry in the black when trends turn sour.
Supermajor Net Profits for 4Q18 and 2018
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$6 billion (-28%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$20.8 (+5.7%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$5.69 billion (+32.3%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$21.4 billion (+36%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.73 billion (+19.9%);
- 2018 – Net profit US$14.8 billion (+60.8%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.48 billion (+65%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$12.7 billion (+105%)
- 4Q18 – Net profit US$3.88 billion (+16%);
- 2018 - Net profit US$13.6 billion (+28%)