Interviews #3 The Closing: Do You Have Any Questions You Would Like To Ask?

The Closing — Creating a Positive Lasting Impression — The Art of Good Questions

Photo by Llkka Karkkainen on Unsplash

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” Voltaire

Asking a genuine question allows you to convey something you haven’t already brought up. For example: “According to your quarterly report, your revenues grew by 20%. What was that attributed to?

You bring value to yourself through the questions you ask — but only if they are good questions. The best questions provide insight for all parties concerned.

Examples of good closing interview questions to create a positive lasting impression:

  1. What are the top priorities in your business at the moment?
  2. What challenges do you envisage in making this happen?
  3. If we were to work together on this, what are the top two or three outcomes you would like to see?

Interviews #2 The Middle Questions: Your Cue To Tell Your Story

The Middle — Brainstorm Experiences and Adapt to Fit the Questions — Three “PAR” Anecdotes

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” Hannah Arendt

Your interviews are as memorable as the stories you share. Many people have fascinating experiences but forget them when they’re on the spot.

To remedy this, review the key skills, attributes and experiences needed for the role.

Consider questions that are likely to uncover these.

Then have Three Anecdotes ready for each and base them on the following simple “PAR” format:

  1. Problem — What was the situation?
  2. Action — What did you do to solve it?
  3. Result — What changed afterwards?

2 Stories of Bodyism Objectifying People Because of Their Appearance 

Bodyism Like all Isms is Wrong It’s Unkind and Ignorant 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

I sometimes get asked to take part in focus groups, to be part of a discussion where I give my opinion on products or services, where I share my thinking on things that are happening in the world, from politics to economics and much more in between.

The following two stories are stories where I witnessed the objectification of people.

STORY 1: These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other 

These comments were In relation to age, size and colour … I felt sick in my stomach hearing those words.

I was taking part in a focus group discussion about a clothing brand which was looking to re-energise itself, and also to reach different audiences. It was an all-women’s group aged over 50.

We were given a homework task before attending, which was to think about what influenced us in the world of clothing: ’influencers’ we were aware of, people who wrote blogs or used social media channels such as Instagram to get their thinking out into the world, brands we liked, who were doing a good job within their industry, magazines we read, commercials we’d seen, anything that had influenced us, things we liked and also things we didn’t like.

During the discussion, we were introduced to the brand — which we all recognised as a high-street retail chain. While many of us had shopped there in the past, none of us had shopped there in recent years. This was because we associated it with being for a younger age group.

We were shown their marketing campaign material: posters, TV advertising, their catalogue, their social media platforms, photos, blogs and so on.

The brand wanted to reach women of our age, and the focus group was designed to discover what they needed to do in order to achieve this.

In sharing their thoughts and opinions, the immediate reaction of the women in the group was to say; “These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other” These comments were in relation to age, size and colour.

I felt sick in my stomach hearing these words, and a voice in my head was screaming: NO, PLEASE STOP! STOP objectifying women, STOP making it about a woman’s age, her size, the colour of her skin. STOP being part of what has become the norm: the norm of individuals, the norm of groups, the norm of society. STOP being women who objectify women. Just STOP it now.

While everything going on in my head was causing me to feel sickened and enraged, I wanted to express this in a way that demonstrated my thinking, without alienating the rest of the group.

In my mind, I asked myself what I could say in this moment that would allow me to express that I think what is going on is the objectification of women, and that I’m not OK with that. The self-feedback that came to me in that moment was that I could do this by talking about and sharing the book the homework task had taken me to.

Book Wisdom

The book was Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. The premise of the book is that every dress tells a story. Smith writes about the inheritance she received from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell. How the boxes started arriving, with more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, from Dior and Chanel originals to a dainty pioneer dress. How it was when she unearthed her godmother’s book of stories, that the true value of what she had been bequeathed hit home. This wasn’t merely a collection of beautiful things, it was a collection of life. Women’s lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic.

I shared the story of how I came to discover this book. My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house: not for a night on the tiles, but for everyday occasions, such as a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant, and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories. Sadly, towards the end of my mum’s life, she developed dementia, which progressed quite rapidly. She had to go into a retirement home as she required round the clock care. As a family we felt we’d lost her: the dementia took away aspects of her personality and parts of her memory. She just wasn’t the same anymore and it was heart-breaking.

When we went to visit, she always knew us, but as soon as we left she wouldn’t remember we’d been there. We also couldn’t have a conversation with her, because she just couldn’t remember things, and she’d become frustrated and agitated. It was too upsetting for her.

My mum had a love of reading, and over the years along with books, she also enjoyed reading fashion magazines. Sadly, she was no longer able to read, and wanting to find a way of spending time with her, I began to think about books I could read to her, which she would enjoy.

Thinking about it in terms of what she loved in her life led me to discovering Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. My mum loved it. She’d listen as I read the stories of the fabulous dresses and their adventures. She looked at the beautiful images of the dresses, which had been illustrated by Grant Cowan — an illustrator who worked on magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Red Magazine.

Our time spent together in this way seemed to have a calming effect on my mum. She was always less agitated and more relaxed, and my sister would tell me of how she’d show her the book when she visited — she remembered it was in her bedside locker.

I went on to share what I believed to be:

Sage Wisdom

Dresses are about where they take women, where women take their dresses, the adventures they go on together, the experiences and memories they create, which remain within their hearts and minds, and will continue to live on through the stories women tell about their dresses.

Words of Wisdom

“A dress can hold a lifetime of memories for a woman.” Charlotte Smith

Epilogue

While I have no way of knowing the impact my words, my thinking, or the story I shared had on the brand’s marketing campaign, it did have an impact on the women in the room, as they each began sharing stories of dresses they had been on an adventure with: a dress they wore on a special date, a dress they wore to an event which they had a fond memory of, a dress they wore when they were travelling and exploring new and different places.

My story took the conversation away from objectifying women by their age, size or colour of their skin, to sharing stories that were meaningful to each woman in the room.

Today’s featured book is: Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith

STORY 2: Those Men Can’t Wear Those Clothes, They Need to Look a Lot Smarter, They Need to Wear White Coats, That Will Make Them Look Smarter.

These comments were in relation to dressing comfortably or dressing clinically. I felt sick in my stomach hearing these words.

I was taking part in a focus group about back pain. It was an all-women’s group, and we’d all experienced back pain in our lives. For some women, it was from childbirth, for others from an accident. For me it was caused when I spent six months backpacking around Australia, when unable to leave my books at home, I instead loaded up my backpack with them, putting too much strain on my back, causing me to slip a disc; and once it happened once, it happened frequently, until I was able to find a way to prevent it from happening.

The market research focus group had been commissioned by two men: both of whom had significant experience working with people who had suffered severe back pain. As well as both of them having private practices, they each had specific areas of expertise within the world of sports: one of them worked with grand-prix racing drivers, and the other with world-cup rugby teams, both sports put great strain on participant’s backs, causing extreme pain and injury.

They had come together to combine their knowledge, skills and expertise, creating an online platform which comprised of videos demonstrating techniques and simple practices that people could do in their own home to help alleviate and overcome back pain. This was offered as a stand-alone service, and also in support of in-person treatments with practitioners who they had trained, who were providing their services throughout the UK.

We were shown a video in which both men shared the story of their work, and then each of them demonstrated different techniques wearing the clothes they worked in — sweat pants and T-shirts. Immediately on the video finishing, one woman said: “Those Men Can’t Wear Those Clothes, They Need to Look a Lot Smarter, They Need to Wear White Coats, That Will Make Them Look Smarter.”

I felt sick in my stomach hearing those words. and that voice was back in my head screaming: NO, PLEASE STOP! STOP OBJECTIFYING. As women, we don’t want to be objectified, what then makes it OK to objectify men?

While everything going on in my head was causing me to feel sickened and enraged, I was back at wanting to express this in a way that demonstrated my thinking, without alienating the rest of the group. So, once again in my mind, I asked myself what I could say in this moment that would allow me to express that I think what is going on is the objectification of men, and that I’m not OK with that. The self-feedback that came to me in that moment was that I could do this by simply bringing it back to what the woman had said about the clothes they should be wearing, and then try to move it on from there.

I said: “For me, white coats would make it very clinical. The clothes they’re wearing actually demonstrate to me that they know their work, and they know what’s needed in order for them to be comfortable in being able to move in carrying out their work.” I went on to say how the best treatment I’d had was from a woman who was dressed in clothes similar to both men, which allowed her to really get stuck in — in performing the hands-on treatment, which enabled me to walk out of her surgery upright and free of pain; and how this differed from seeing practitioners who wore white coats, which reflected the clinical approach of their treatment — which was hands off, apart from a little poking and prodding, and was totally ineffective.

I then said how to me the stories both men shared demonstrated their skills and expertise, along with their passion, and that was what impressed me most.

I wanted to bring the conversation back to what the facilitator had told us that the men hoped to get from this focus group discussion, which was: Do we think the platform they’re creating is something people would use, something people find helpful, and something people would pay for.

So I shared my story of how I first began to overcome my back pain.

Book Wisdom

It was long before YouTube or online video platforms, when in a search for what I could do myself to overcome my back pain I discovered the book: Body Learning — An Introduction to the Alexander Technique by Michael J. Gelb.

The book gave me insights into how the Alexander Technique helps maintain the health and efficiency of the human body, by putting us in touch with our body, and giving us a way of deepening our perceptions and well-being. The approach it took in teaching the techniques was simple. For example, “Allow the neck to be free to let the head go forward and up so that the back may lengthen and widen”, was a direction I remembered.

I went on to say that over time and over the years I discovered video demonstrations of the Alexander Technique, which I found to be really helpful, and what the men were proposing with the service they were developing was in a way similar to what I’d discovered with the Alexander Technique demonstrations, and so I believed there was scope for their idea.

My approach worked in bringing the conversation away from objectifying the men by the clothes they were wearing, to the techniques they were demonstrating, and considering how beneficial the platform they’re creating could be to people — would people use it? would people find it helpful? and is it something people would pay for?

Sage Wisdom

All of the women began to share their experiences, which was in effect Sage Wisdom. They shared their discoveries in being able to manage their back pain, many of which were video tutorials — tips and techniques, along with support being offered by local GPs and the NHS (National Health Service), health and sports centres, organisations for employees. They talked about ways in which these men could work with GPs, the NHS, health and sports centres, and organisations, by way of offering their services to reach wider audiences.

Epilogue

As the group was nearing the end, the facilitator said she’d just pop next door to ask if there were any further questions from the clients — who had been observing from the room next door! She wasn’t explicit in letting us know who was observing at the beginning of the session.

She now explained this was because the men wanted to get our feedback based on what we really thought — rather than what we thought they wanted to hear, which might have been the case had we known they were observing. However she had told us at the beginning that as it was a focus group, and we were in a viewing facility, there were people observing, and our conversation was also being recorded — this was to ensure that everything we said was captured, allowing her to facilitate the discussion without having to make notes.

She came back in with both men, who laughingly asked: “So what can we wear that will make us look smart?” They had taken what had been said in a good-natured way, and while I don’t think they wanted to get across any underlying message with that question, that is exactly what they achieved.

As I left the building with the other women, the woman who had said those words said how mortified she was in saying what she said. She hadn’t meant to objectify the men by the clothes they were wearing, but now recognised that’s exactly what she had done.

Words of Wisdom

The golden rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated.

This story is about one human being objectifying another human being. 

It’s not about singling out women or men. 

Today’s stories just happen to be about women objectifying women and men. 

But men do it too – they also objectify women and men for their appearance. 

They also engage in the practice of Bodyism. 

Fellow Human Beings, THAT’S NOT OK.

In 2 Stories About the Effect of Speaking Up and Speaking Out About Bodyism, I shared the stories of men practising Bodyism towards women and men.

Today’s featured book is: Body Learning — An Introduction to the Alexander Technique by Michael J. Gelb

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

…………………………………………………………………….

POSTSCRIPT

The Continuing Story …

The WorkLife Book Wisdom stories led me to write WorkLife Book Club, which takes you on a journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, as the members share culinary experiences, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books they read.

 I developed the first six WorkLife Book Wisdom blog stories into the case studies that are featured in the book. The case study and the book are the required reading for each meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

Tap the book image to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Amazon. The book is also available to purchase from your favourite book shop.

…  And There’s More …

I then created resources to help people start and continue their own WorkLife Book Club Chapter. I did this by taking the next six WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories and developed them into Case Studies that became The Learn Through Reading Series. The case study and the book are the required reading for each meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

Tap The Learn Through Reading Series to see the complete series. From here, you can tap on the individual case studies to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Shopify.

………………………………………………………………………………….

School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Live True To Who You Really Are 

How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity 

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Interviews #1 The Opening Question: Tell Me About Yourself

The Opening — Setting the Scene — Three Steps to Crafting Your Inspiring Story

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde.

Many interviews will start with the same prompt “Tell me about yourself.”

Standard responses are along the lines of: “I studied (Major X) because I really wanted to make a difference in (Industry Y) and as you can see from my CV through my last job at (Company Z) I …

To move beyond this standard response to stand out from the crowd from the outset, you need to craft “Your Inspiring Story” to show who you are as a person, not just a professional. To give meaning to what you will bring to the role and organisation.

The way your WorkLife has evolved, the things you’ve learned, your achievements, failures, dreams — these things are unique to you and make you more interesting than you perhaps realise.

A good story is not a replication of your CV or LinkedIn profile. You need to go beyond that.

Three Steps to Crafting Your Story:

Step 1: Take an inventory of the chapters of your life — turning points that shaped who you are — what you learned, accomplished and experienced.

Step 2: Focus on memorable “aha” moments — vivid dimensions, so people experience that moment with you.

Step 3: Uncover the themes in your story — what emerges as your passion — mentoring, research, relationship building, advancing knowledge …

I first shared this story some years ago on my now-defunct blog: Evolving Careers Players.

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations

How I Spent Lockdown, and How I Was Inspired In Isolation

Through the trees: A view of the lake in Victoria Park, London

Through the trees: A view of the lake in Victoria Park, London

In deciding what I was going to do in the strange time of lockdown and isolation I asked myself:

How can I make the most of this time?

The self-feedback I received in answer was that I wanted to do the following three things — which are actually six things, because well, that’s what came to me, because they all seemed like good ideas, because they’re things I can combine, and because I can.

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations

1. READING/WATCHING TV

Embracing being at home and indulging in pure unadulterated me time, to my absolute delight, I discovered all thirty-four of the previously screened episodes of Inspector Montalbano were available on iPlayer. I’m a huge fan, so of course, I decided to work my way through them — there is a little work involved as it’s in Italian with English subtitles. As I’d watched them before, I wanted to create a sense of purpose around re-watching them, and so I decided I’d read each book first, then watch the episode.

My reasoning behind this was two-fold:

  1. I want to read more fiction, and mysteries are a life-long favourite genre. Beginning from a young age with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books, then moving on to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple detective novels, and many, many more in-between.
  2. I have an idea for a mystery book, but I have no idea how to go about writing it, and so I’m setting out to learn just that, and what better way to do it than by embracing my love of literature and film/tv.

2. LANGUAGE LEARNING/EXERCISING AT HOME

Before the pandemic hit, I’d planned a road-trip around Ireland along with exploring France by train. While this of course has to go on hold, I thought I could still prepare, and as this is something I could multi-task on, I thought the best combination would be with home-exercise. So, I got my Michel Thomas Irish and French Language CDs, along with my Jane Fonda and Callanetics DVDs off the shelf, dusted them off, put on my leg-warmers and got going.

A view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge

 

A view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge 

3. PHOTOGRAPHY/WALKING

I decided I’d use this time to learn how to take better photographs. This is simply because I love photographs, but I’ve never been very good at taking them. This seemed like the perfect time to try out my new iPhone that I’d bought because of the camera function, which reportedly is good for both photos and videos. I created a project which I’ve called ‘Capturing The Beauty In Everyday WorkLife’, and as we’re allowed to exercise outside of home, I thought I’d combine both. How am I doing? I’ll let you judge – from the photos I’ve shared in this post.

Boats and Buildings along Regents Canal

 

Boats and Buildings along Regents Canal

Book Wisdom

So, what wisdom am I gleaning from reading mystery books, and how could this be helpful in my WorkLife? Looking at the first book in the series of Inspector Montalbano (The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri), Donna Leon, an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy, said: “The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humour, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily. To read him is to be taken to that glorious, tortured island.”

Alongside exploring how to write a mystery book, I’m also working on my next book, called WorkLife Book Club. The setting for each chapter will be a different restaurant, as the group discuss WorkLife stories and featured books. I need to learn how to breathe out the sense of place for each setting — wish me luck!

Words of Wisdom

In the midst of times of uncertainty and disruption, powerful shifts are going to come about, and people are going to make big changes. You may not have the clarity on what you could, should, would do, if you only knew what that was, and that’s OK. Focus instead on how you could, should, would think about making decisions when the time is right for you.

Sage Wisdom

Down moments are sometimes when the greatest opportunities arise.

Epilogue

This chapter of my WorkLife has just begun. In time I’ll reflect on what it meant for me, what I learnt from it, and what changes it effected in my WorkLife.

I leave you with a couple of questions for you to reflect on at whatever stage you’re at, at this chapter in your WorkLife. In the moment or looking back – depending on when you’re reading this story.

What do/did you want to get out of this strange, bizarre, challenging time?

What do/did you want to remember from this time?

Through reflection and self-feedback let the answers inform your isolation inspirations in whatever you choose to do.

In time should you choose to make changes in your WorkLife, ask yourself:

How could, should, would I think about making these decisions?

Today’s featured book is: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

……………………………………………………………………

POSTSCRIPT

Did My My Top 3 Isolation Inspirations Actually Inspire Me Longterm? is my story having revisited and reevaluated this story. 

And there’s more …

… The Continuing Story …

The WorkLife Book Wisdom stories led me to write WorkLife Book Club, which takes you on a journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, as the members share culinary experiences, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books they read.

I developed the first six WorkLife Book Wisdom blog stories into the case studies that are featured in the book. The case study and the book are the required reading for each meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Amazon. The book is also available to purchase from your favourite book shop.

  And There’s More …

I then created resources to help people start and continue their own WorkLife Book Club Chapter. I did this by taking the next six WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories and developed them into Case Studies that became The Learn Through Reading Series. The case study and the book are the required reading for each meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

Tap The Learn Through Reading Series to see the complete series. From here, you can tap on the individual case studies to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Shopify.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Your WorkLife Your Way 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Start Something New in Difficult Times 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

 

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.