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.
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Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO)
In its January 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that annual U.S. crude oil production will average 11.1 million b/d in 2021, down 0.2 million b/d from 2020 as result of a decline in drilling activity related to low oil prices. A production decline in 2021 would mark the second consecutive year of production declines. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic led to supply and demand disruptions. EIA expects crude oil production to increase in 2022 by 0.4 million b/d because of increased drilling as prices remain at or near $50 per barrel (b).
The United States set annual natural gas production records in 2018 and 2019, largely because of increased drilling in shale and tight oil formations. The increase in production led to higher volumes of natural gas in storage and a decrease in natural gas prices. In 2020, marketed natural gas production fell by 2% from 2019 levels amid responses to COVID-19. EIA estimates that annual U.S. marketed natural gas production will decline another 2% to average 95.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2021. The fall in production will reverse in 2022, when EIA estimates that natural gas production will rise by 2% to 97.6 Bcf/d.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO)
EIA’s forecast for crude oil production is separated into three regions: the Lower 48 states excluding the Federal Gulf of Mexico (GOM) (81% of 2019 crude oil production), the GOM (15%), and Alaska (4%). EIA expects crude oil production in the U.S. Lower 48 states to decline through the first quarter of 2021 and then increase through the rest of the forecast period. As more new wells come online later in 2021, new well production will exceed the decline in legacy wells, driving the increase in overall crude oil production after the first quarter of 2021.
Associated natural gas production from oil-directed wells in the Permian Basin will fall because of lower West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices and reduced drilling activity in the first quarter of 2021. Natural gas production from dry regions such as Appalachia depends on the Henry Hub price. EIA forecasts the Henry Hub price will increase from $2.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2020 to $3.01/MMBtu in 2021 and to $3.27/MMBtu in 2022, which will likely prompt an increase in Appalachia's natural gas production. However, natural gas production in Appalachia may be limited by pipeline constraints in 2021 if the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is delayed. The MVP is scheduled to enter service in late 2021, delivering natural gas from producing regions in northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. Natural gas takeaway capacity in the region is quickly filling up since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was canceled in mid-2020.
Just when it seems that the drama of early December, when the nations of the OPEC+ club squabbled over how to implement and ease their collective supply quotas in 2021, would be repeated, a concession came from the most unlikely quarter of all. Saudi Arabia. OPEC’s swing producer and, especially in recent times, vocal judge, announced that it would voluntarily slash 1 million barrels per day of supply. The move took the oil markets by surprise, sending crude prices soaring but was also very unusual in that it was not even necessary at all.
After a day’s extension to the negotiations, the OPEC+ club had actually already agreed on the path forward for their supply deal through the remainder of Q1 2021. The nations of OPEC+ agreed to ease their overall supply quotas by 75,000 b/d in February and 120,000 b/d in March, bringing the total easing over three months to 695,000 b/d after the UAE spearheaded a revised increase of 500,000 b/d for January. The increases are actually very narrow ones; there were no adjustments for quotas for all OPEC+ members with the exception of Russia and Kazakshtan, who will be able to pump 195,000 additional barrels per day between them. That the increases for February and March were not higher or wider is a reflection of reality: despite Covid-19 vaccinations being rolled out globally, a new and more infectious variant of the coronavirus has started spreading across the world. In fact, there may even be at least of these mutations currently spreading, throwing into question the efficacy of vaccines and triggering new lockdowns. The original schedule of the April 2020 supply deal would have seen OPEC+ adding 2 million b/d of production from January 2021 onwards; the new tranches are far more measured and cognisant of the challenging market.
Then Saudi Arabia decides to shock the market by declaring that the Kingdom would slash an additional million barrels of crude supply above its current quota over February and March post-OPEC+ announcement. Which means that while countries such as Russia, the UAE and Nigeria are working to incrementally increase output, Saudi Arabia is actually subsidising those planned increases by making a massive additional voluntary cut. For a member that threw its weight around last year by unleashing taps to trigger a crude price war with Russia and has been emphasising the need for strict compliant by all members before allowing any collective increases to take place, this is uncharacteristic. Saudi Arabia may be OPEC’s swing producer, but it is certainly not that benevolent. Not least because it is expected to record a massive US$79 billion budget deficit for 2020 as low crude prices eat into the Kingdom’s finances.
So, why is Saudi Arabia doing this?
The last time the Saudis did this was in July 2020, when the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic was at devastating levels and crude prices needed some additional propping up. It succeeded. In January 2021, however, global crude prices are already at the US$50/b level and the market had already cheered the resolution of OPEC+’s positions for the next two months. There was no real urgent need to make voluntary cuts, especially since no other OPEC member would suit especially not the UAE with whom there has been a falling out.
The likeliest reason is leadership. Having failed to convince the rest of the OPEC+ gang to avoid any easing of quotas, Saudi Arabia could be wanting to prove its position by providing a measure of supply security at a time of major price sensitivity due to the Covid-19 resurgence. It will also provide some political ammunition for future negotiations when the group meets in March to decide plans for Q2 2021, turning this magnanimous move into an implicit threat. It could also be the case that Saudi Arabia is planning to pair its voluntary cut with field maintenance works, which would be a nice parallel to the usual refinery maintenance season in Asia where crude demand typically falls by 10-20% as units shut for routine inspections.
It could also be a projection of soft power. After isolating Qatar physically and economically since 2017 over accusations of terrorism support and proximity to Iran, four Middle Eastern states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt – have agreed to restore and normalise ties with the peninsula. While acknowledging that a ‘trust deficit’ still remained, the accord avoids the awkward workarounds put in place to deal with the boycott and provides for road for cooperation ahead of a change on guard in the White House. Perhaps Qatar is even thinking of re-joining OPEC? As Saudi Arabia flexes its geopolitical muscle, it does need to pick its battles and re-assert its position. Showcasing political leadership as the world’s crude swing producer is as good a way of demonstrating that as any, even if it is planning to claim dues in the future.
It worked. It has successfully changed the market narrative from inter-OPEC+ squabbling to a more stabilised crude market. Saudi Arabia’s patience in prolonging this benevolent role is unknown, but for now, it has achieved what it wanted to achieve: return visibility to the Kingdom as the global oil leader, and having crude oil prices rise by nearly 10%.