Over the past few weeks I have been immersed in the final stages of the Young Enterprise Scotland Lothian company programme competition. In early September 2013 40 or so groups of young people aged 16 /17 set up and ran companies as part of the programme. As other demands on time and dips in motivation started to have an impact a few of those teams dropped out but 30 or so of them stuck with it right to the end.
In early March up to 4 members of each company took part in an interview with 2 judges where the answered questions about highlights, challenges , how they solved problems, how they worked as a team and what kind of leadership they had. With a colleague we interviewed 16 teams. They had 15 minutes to impress us. Although they were undoubtedly nervous they all did very well indeed. Some were outstanding.
There were a few things that really struck me . For example when asked about how well each Director had fulfilled their role ( Managing , Finance , Marketing, HR, Operations etc) the role holders themselves were able – and willing – to talk about what the had done especially when it came to problem solving. And most of them were more than happy to talk about learning from their mistakes showing an admirable ability to recognise why that had been valuable and how they might use that learning in future.
Whether or not it would be advisable to take this approach during a job interview is a matter of judgement. But I think there is a lot to learn from what the young interviewees did that you could use before meeting the prospective employer.
The process of reflection – which they did so well – can be invaluable in bringing to the surface learning that might otherwise be missed. For them they learned some pretty major lessons but it can help identify smaller key steps or indeed where profound change has happened incrementally over time and had gone unnoticed.
At Edinburgh Napier University my colleagues and I work on programmes where students are assessed on reports they write after they had put a plan into action, thought about what happened and recognise and articulate the learning from the outcome. These students are studying part time and applying what the cover in workshops to their jobs. In the programme I lead they write 3 reports over a period of 12 months and it is obvious to me as I mark their work that all of them will have consolidated what they had learned through the process of thinking about it and writing it into the report so that someone else can read and understand it.
It is easier to talk about things with clarity and emotion that we truly believe. So if you find it difficult to talk about yourself persuasively and confidently it might be time to reflect.
I help my clients with that as their coach. If you want to know how that could work for you then get in touch!