Hiring managers who interview applicants for a job are very attuned to the way a candidate answers certain questions: How they explain their responsibilities, describe their relationship with their boss and teammates, define their individual achievements, identify their team results, and clarify why they are looking for another job. All of the answers to these questions tell the hiring manager a lot about the candidate.
One of the things an experienced interviewer is looking for is the candidate who accepts responsibility for their actions, no matter what the circumstances or outcomes. One of the ways to fall short as a finalist candidate is to say, “It wasn’t my fault that I missed the goal. If it wasn’t for my co-workers I could have done much better. They prevented me from reaching the team objective”.
What’s the difference between a whiner and a winner? I’m sure you’ve experienced both, but my focus is on the job search and interview process. A whiner tends to blame others for their shortcomings, deflects responsibility, or redirects accountability for a lack of results onto others. Here are some examples of both a whiner and a winner using the same issues for both:
- “As a team, we could have reached our goal except for one of our members who kept dragging the work group down”
- “My boss kept moving the goal post toward an objective that was unattainable”
- “The organization did not provide the support or information that was required in order for me to achieve the outcome, on budget and on time”
- “The competition prevented us from increasing market share by using unethical practices”
Let’s take the same issues and translate the response as communicated by a winner:
- “As a team, we reached 94% of our stretch goals in a difficult competitive market”
- “My boss always encouraged us to outperform our goals. We succeeded in about 75% of the time”
- “The organization had about 80% of the information to complete my project. 20% of the information was not available”
- “We stabilized our market share and did not lose one major customer in spite of a competitive campaign of predatory pricing”
The difference between how an issue is communicated separates the whiner from the winner. The whiner talks about the negative aspect of an issue and projects it onto someone else. The winner emphasizes the positive side of the same issue and objectively describes the situation, not the people.
What’s the morale of the story? Whiners tend push the shortcomings of the work to the people around them. Winners tend to put a positive spin on the results, the team, and are viewed as a contributor to the effort.
Winners get hired. Whiners get the opportunity to try their luck somewhere else.
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