After 531 unanswered applications, and 11 other interviews blundered, you are desperate for a job. Any job. Ambling down the hall to the recruiter's office, a sense of foreboding looms in your psyche, your sweaty palms betray your inner-torture. Your lungs wheeze when the HR manager comes into full view, your knees suddenly weak with an involuntary spasm. You croak your name, and offer a limp handshake. You mouth an insincere greeting, while your facial muscles try to scrunch a sorry attempt of a smile. The tension in the air stifles your attempt to lighten the mood; The interviewer's visible boredom forges an invisible force field between you, an unfortunate by-product of insomnia and routine. The dialogue forges ahead with a flurry of attacks on your credentials, and the lackadaisical rhythm of your rebuttals cause the conversation to spiral into a familiar abyss of failure. Your hope vanquished, your defeat imminent, you leave with your tail between your legs.
So what's next? Resign to the fact that you'll have to opt for minimum wage or join a circus? Let's not wallow in your sorrow. Drag yourself up, dust your depression off, and let's get working on your interviewing skills. What, you thought that interviews are just Q&A sessions and dumb luck? Fortunately for you, I'm here to point out the mistakes you've made, and give you some tips to correct those opportunity killers.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You Wore Failure on Your Face
You are guilty of letting your previous failures get the best of you. Yes, in difficult times, you were downsized. Yes, nobody from your old life appears to even care. Yes, you feel dejected and embarrassed. And yes, you thought you would never have to apply for unemployment cheques.
Fortunately for you, no recruiter knows about your burdens. They don't know you haven't eaten for three days, and you are minutes away from being evicted. What they do need to know is, that they need you more than you need them. Make them believe this fact. Your belief and confidence in yourself, will expunge their doubts. Your credentials, while it might not entirely fit the job description, may not the end all be all, because they made the first gesture by calling you into the room. So, exude the confidence of somebody in control. I wrote another article on gaining confidence, "Command the Room: 5 Incredible Tips to Influence with Confidence and Charisma", but you don't have time for reading yet another article. You seek immediate relief. I'm not going to give that to you. Read that article, practice, and go to the next tip.You Never Framed Your Message
The key to getting through person(s) who have a different view than you, is to disrupt their frame. How do you do this? What are frames? Frames are context of how the information is presented. For example, the method I am writing this article right now, is in an unveiled condescending manner, designed to nudge your ego so that you will feel compelled to better yourself. The idea of changing the frame of a person is to manipulate the way information is presented, to increase the chances to influence, alter decision making and judgement about that information. For the same message, different people will have different frames, or context that is dependent on their belief and conditions. At the start of an interview, both the recruiter's and your frames, are different. Your job disrupt the interviewer's frame, to fit yours.
In the movie Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith shows up at THE interview, the one that will make or break him, in an outfit akin to a homeless man, streaks of paint all over his face, jacket/body. He even reeked. The managers scoffed and asked him what would others in the company say if the managers even considered hiring somebody that didn't bother wearing a clean shirt to an interview.
"He must've had really nice pants", Will's character answered with a straight face
So how did Will use a joke to his advantage? The frame, or the context that the recruiters had of him upon seeing his disheveled appearance, was that he was not suitable for the position. And they clearly stated that his choice of clothing was a non-negotiable requirement for them; what would people say? However, Will managed to divert their attention to his quick wit, by delivering a well timed retort. This in effect, changed the context of the recruiters, to frame the conversation around Will's intellectual capability, and not his clothing. Of course it didn't hurt that the joke got a laugh or two in the room, as you know even in real life, it's hard to stay bored, mad, or sad with somebody who makes you laugh. Humor is a great frame disruptor. I don't advise you to go full on Bozo the Clown on a poor recruiter, but try to lighten the mood with an interesting comment, something that might tickle the person's funny bone.
If you read online on frame disruptors, there are many other techniques of influence, but for now, let's just be patient and get the recruiter smiling and ready to listen to you. I'd advise you to limit yourself to a joke or two max, and move on to the next tip.You Were Always On the Receiving End
You got into the room, you sat down, and you waited to be asked. You wait for the moment the recruiter finds a folly in your experience, and you figuratively wait for a Spanish Inquisition. Why?
What you should do is take charge of the situation. Shake the person's hand firmly. Smile and maintain eye contact. Acknowledge anybody else in the room, but focus on the decision maker. There's always a decision maker in the room. And ask that person a question.
"What, ask a question? That is absurd!", you say in disbelief. Why not? When I attend interviews, I often like to control the conversation, so I start with a question, that will lead the direction of the conversation the way I want it. For example, if I am interviewing for a General Manager's position in Uber, I would open with this question,
"So, how are you guys planning to retake market share from GrabCar in South East Asia? Seems to me they are eating your lunch."
It's a risky move, but a smart strategy. Not only have I disrupted the frames of the recruiter/managers, I have now made them be on the receiving end. If they are the people that I want to work with, they will come up with a quick intelligent answer, or they might just turn the question back to me, "We don't know, what do you think?"
And now I can elaborate on my well memorized answer, about my grand plans of trying to lower Uber Malaysia's overhead, tie-in with local partners, innovative ideas for marketing and be the first to market food delivery via UberEats, that Grab has not capitalized on. And if I've had my way, the total interview becomes my interview, where I ask the questions, and the recruiters are on the receiving end.
Your success in an interview is always within your grasp. Do not concern yourself with the fact that there are hundreds of other applicants, that may or may not be exceedingly more qualified than you. Your battle is how you present yourself, how you frame your message and how you are able to control the conversation to your advantage. You can do wonders with the tools I just taught you, so please, do not despair and be ready for greater opportunities.
Note about the author: Adrin Shafil is an engineer, currently working as a Drilling and Completions Manager in Malaysia. He finds that writing is a great stress relief tool and he finds joy in sharing his insights online and answering any questions from graduates, mid-career colleagues and even fellow managers. If you like his articles, please click 'like', share the article on your profile and connect or follow his feed for more great information and tips.
Something interesting to share?
Join NrgEdge and create your own NrgBuzz today
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 13 May 2019 – Brent: US$70/b; WTI: US$61/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
The world’s largest oil & gas companies have generally reported a mixed set of results in Q1 2019. Industry turmoil over new US sanctions on Venezuela, production woes in Canada and the ebb-and-flow between OPEC+’s supply deal and rising American production have created a shaky environment at the start of the year, with more ongoing as the oil world grapples with the removal of waivers on Iranian crude and Iran’s retaliation.
The results were particularly disappointing for ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two US supermajors. Both firms cited weak downstream performance as a drag on their financial performance, with ExxonMobil posting its first loss in its refining business since 2009. Chevron, too, reported a 65% drop in the refining and chemicals profit. Weak refining margins, particularly on gasoline, were blamed for the underperformance, exacerbating a set of weaker upstream numbers impaired by lower crude pricing even though production climbed. ExxonMobil was hit particularly hard, as its net profit fell below Chevron’s for the first time in nine years. Both supermajors did highlight growing output in the American Permian Basin as a future highlight, with ExxonMobil saying it was on track to produce 1 million barrels per day in the Permian by 2024. The Permian is also the focus of Chevron, which agreed to a US$33 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum (and its Permian Basin assets), only for the deal to be derailed by a rival bid from Occidental Petroleum with the backing of billionaire investor guru Warren Buffet. Chevron has now decided to opt out of the deal – a development that would put paid to Chevron’s ambitions to match or exceed ExxonMobil in shale.
Performance was better across the pond. Much better, in fact, for Royal Dutch Shell, which provided a positive end to a variable earnings season. Net profit for the Anglo-Dutch firm may have been down 2% y-o-y to US$5.3 billion, but that was still well ahead of even the highest analyst estimates of US$4.52 billion. Weaker refining margins and lower crude prices were cited as a slight drag on performance, but Shell’s acquisition of BG Group is paying dividends as strong natural gas performance contributed to the strong profits. Unlike ExxonMobil and Chevron, Shell has only dipped its toes in the Permian, preferring to maintain a strong global portfolio mixed between oil, gas and shale assets.
For the other European supermajors, BP and Total largely matched earning estimates. BP’s net profits of US$2.36 billion hit the target of analyst estimates. The addition of BHP Group’s US shale oil assets contributed to increased performance, while BP’s downstream performance was surprisingly resilient as its in-house supply and trading arm showed a strong performance – a business division that ExxonMobil lacks. France’s Total also hit the mark of expectations, with US$2.8 billion in net profit as lower crude prices offset the group’s record oil and gas output. Total’s upstream performance has been particularly notable – with start-ups in Angola, Brazil, the UK and Norway – with growth expected at 9% for the year.
All in all, the volatile environment over the first quarter of 2019 has seen some shift among the supermajors. Shell has eclipsed ExxonMobil once again – in both revenue and earnings – while Chevron’s failed bid for Anadarko won’t vault it up the rankings. Almost ten years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP is now reclaiming its place after being overtaken by Total over the past few years. With Q219 looking to be quite volatile as well, brace yourselves for an interesting earnings season.
Supermajor Financials: Q1 2019
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January, April, and May 2019 editions
In its May 2019 edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA revised its price forecast for Brent crude oil upward, reflecting price increases in recent months, more recent data, and changing expectations of global oil markets. Several supply constraints have caused oil markets to be generally tighter and oil prices to be higher so far in 2019 than previous STEOs expected.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had agreed at a December 2018 meeting to cut crude oil production in the first six months of 2019; compliance with these cuts has been more effective than EIA initially expected. In the January STEO, OPEC’s crude oil and petroleum liquids production was expected to decline by 1.0 million b/d in 2019 compared with the 2018 level, but EIA now forecasts OPEC production to decline by 1.9 million b/d in the May STEO.
Within OPEC, EIA expects Iran’s liquid fuels production and exports to also decline. On April 22, 2019, the United States issued a statement indicating that it would not reissue waivers, which previously allowed eight countries to continue importing crude oil and condensate from Iran after their waivers expired on May 2. Although EIA’s previous forecasts had assumed that the United States would not reissue waivers, the increased certainty regarding waiver policy and enforcement led to lower forecasts of Iran’s crude oil production.
Venezuela—another OPEC member—has experienced declines in production and exports as a result of recurring power outages, political instability, and U.S. sanctions. In addition to supply constraints that have already materialized in 2019, political instability in Libya may further affect global supply. Any further escalation in conflict may damage crude oil infrastructure or result in a security environment where oil fields are shut in. Either situation could reduce global supply by more than EIA currently forecasts.
In the May STEO, total OPEC crude oil and other liquids supply was estimated at 37.3 million b/d in 2018, and EIA forecasts that it will average 35.4 million b/d in 2019. EIA assumes that the December 2018 agreement among OPEC members to limit production will expire following the June 2019 OPEC meeting.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January, April, and May 2019 editions
U.S. crude oil and other liquids production is sensitive to changes in crude oil prices, taking into account a lag of several months for drilling operations to adjust. As crude oil prices have increased in recent months, so too have EIA’s domestic liquid fuels production forecasts for the remaining months of 2019.
U.S. crude oil and other liquids production, which grew by 2.2 million b/d in 2018, is forecast in EIA’s May STEO to grow by 2.0 million b/d in 2019, an increase of 310,000 b/d more than anticipated in the January STEO. In 2019, EIA expects overall U.S. crude oil and liquids production to average 19.9 million b/d, with crude oil production alone forecast to average 12.4 million b/d.
Relative to these changes in forecasted supply, EIA’s changes in forecasted demand were relatively minor. EIA expects that global oil markets will be tightest in the second and third quarters of 2019, resulting in draws in global inventories. By the fourth quarter of 2019, EIA expects that inventories will build again, and Brent crude oil prices will fall slightly.
More information about changes in STEO expectations for crude oil prices, supply, demand, and inventories is available in This Week in Petroleum.