When you have a chronic illness, it is natural to approach a job interview with an eye on what that job can do for you – pay, benefits, or even future opportunities.
Your Value Proposition
Rather than focusing on how you will benefit from having the job, it is important to realize that jobs are really about providing value to an organization and their customers. Going into a job interview with this mindset – how you will provide value to the organization – benefits you in many ways.
Many people with chronic health conditions are already lacking in confidence due to their physical limitations. When financial pressure and unpaid bills are added to the mixture, desperation ensues.
The more desperate you are for work, the more intimidated you may become during the job interview. You may feel like you are asking for something you need, rather than offering the use of your skills.
Desperation is not a positive feeling, and it affects how you come across to your prospective employer.
As a former manager, I can say for certain that signs of desperation in a prospective employee is the kiss of death. Desperate people are inherently unpredictable, and no manager wants to hire an unpredictable employee.
How do you avoid coming across as desperate?
Look at employment as an equal partnership. In this partnership, you exchange your skills and energy for wages, benefits, and opportunities.
That sounds more powerful than asking for a job, doesn’t it? You may be surprised at the newfound confidence you have gained just by making this simple distinction. Moreover, it starts you thinking about what you can offer the organization as opposed to what they can offer you.
The more you understand how your skills will benefit your prospective employer, the more chance you have of impressing your interviewer.
You will soon realize that the way to confidence is to do a bit of research about the company and the job you are applying for.
What is this company known for that resonates with you? Is it:
- the goods or services they produce?
- the way they treat their employees?
- their dedication to an idea or a corporate culture?
- something else?
Companies are populated by people. These people have identities that are often tied to their company culture.
By doing a bit of research beforehand, you can touch on the important elements of their corporate identity. This immediately puts you ahead of others who are just simply looking for a job.
One of the most deceptive questions in an interview is, “Why do you want this job?”
Many folks will ramble on about how they need the money to pay overdue bills, want better medical benefits, or even talk about how close the job is to their home.
In most cases, this is not what the interviewer wants to hear – as these answers are about your needs, not theirs. They are thinking “What’s in it for me?” (me = the employer).
If you have done some research about the organization, you can talk about how your skills or your personality is a good fit with this particular job and their particular brand.
“ABC company has a great reputation for customer service. I think my positive outlook and desire to help people would be a good fit. I have a feeling my skills would be valued here.”
This type of response is like hitting a grand slam. You are knocking in four runs with one answer:
- You are giving them an answer specific to their organization and acknowledging their corporate culture.
- You are describing specific skills you have to offer and how those skills will benefit them.
- You mention the importance of a “good fit.” This is what all managers want when they fill a job. Someone who will fit in quickly, and with ease.
- You sound confident and professional. By suggesting they will appreciate your skills, you imply you have something of value to offer them.
The best thing about this answer is that it’s about them, as much as you.
Remember you are applying for a job at their company, not just any company. Stress why you are right for them!
Remember that the first interview is a test to see if the prospective employee and employer are a good fit. Now is not necessarily the time to talk about issues related to your illness, unless there are specific circumstances that require it. This first interview is about your strengths – save the discussion of your needs until the company decides you are right for the job.
By taking this new approach to the job interview you will come across confident, professional and thoughtful. Who doesn’t want to hire an employee like that?
About the author…
Jason Reid runs Sick with Success®, an organization committed to helping people with chronic illness, and their employers, become more productive. Jason’s success as both a manager and a person with chronic illness gives him a unique perspective on how chronic health conditions affect organizations and their people. An award-winning former television news director, Jason is also a professionally trained coach and speaker. Jason is the author of Thriving in the Age of Chronic Illness – his new book, which is a guide for both employees with chronic health conditions and their managers. Follow Jason at SickWithSuccess.com.
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