Intrapersonal Skills | Foundation 6 – Lesson 3

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

One of the most important personality factors  future employers are going to want to see is a sense of personal responsibility. That is, will you take ownership for overall success, even if it means going beyond your formal role?

Today’s managers are accustomed to hearing people say things like, “I can’t make it in this morning… I’m really tired.” Managers don’t like that; teams have zero chance of functioning when team members don’t show up!

I’ve received more than one call from a manager asking me how to deal with people who demonstrate low personal responsibility, and my answer, as often as not, is: “Fire ’em.” Generally not for a first offense, but by the third strike, we’ve got a pattern of lazy and that’s not a pattern that a goal-oriented organization can tolerate.

“But, Jason,” you say, “Haven’t you ever been overtired?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. I’ve been late, too. I’m notorious for running late. But I don’t think I’ve ever had the gall to assume that running late was OK. I’ve paid dearly for being late. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to suffer the inconvenience of my inability to manage time. If I’m late, I owe you something.

And by the way, if you’re counting on me, I’m not late.

Can you imagine a star athlete telling his coach, “Yeah, I just don’t feel like going back into the game right now… leave in the second stringer, I’m kinda busy over here.”

(Of course, we actually *do* see this mentality today in professional sports—which could be why I and many others have stopped watching. Note: the 2009 NBA season actually notched up. Could it be that LeBron James isn’t just good, but also a hard worker who earns his fans respect rather than expect it?)

Rest assured, your future boss will do everything possible to avoid hiring anyone s/he thinks will become a future slacker… so if you do anything in the interview that appears lazy—such as give a half-hearted answer—you may as well escort yourself to the door. Stay engaged! You’ve got to leverage the critical thinking skills we talked about yesterday to anticipate where things are going, and then you need to take personal responsibility for getting there. Park the interview roles & responsibilities, etc. in the back of your brain and, for however long you’re in there, drive the action. No one likes a stilted conversation, so you take ownership for making the interview run smoothly… if your interviewer is a stick in the mud, then you bring enough energy and drive for the both of you! The only job at stake in this interview is yours: show the interviewer that when the pressure’s on, instead of getting grovelling desperately, you take charge and make sure the results turn out right!

Then, when you get the job, keep acting like you need to prove yourself every day.

“But Jase, if I do that, will people ride your coattails?”

You bet.

“Won’t I have to defend myself when others try to steal credit for your work?”

Absolutely… and so what?! You’ll go to bed every night exhausted (the good kind), excited for tomorrow, fulfilled (you’ll be having Quality Events), and safe in the knowledge that you’re chronically employed.

In an interview, the way in which you demonstrate personal responsibility is by going the extra mile to offer complete & thorough responses to interview questions. Make it a game: see if you can prevent the interviewer from needing to ask for more information. See if you can turn the interview into more of a conversation, where the interview asks exploratory questions out of curiosity as opposed to a need to uncover additional information. (Whatever you do, don’t babble—prattling on about unrelated details is annoying and not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about providing full answers, which does not necessarily mean long ones.)


Redo the homework from 6.2. Develop answers that are at least 5 minutes long.

You may never give this long of an answer in an interview, but if you can talk about those topics for that long, then you know, if you ever get stuck with an interviewer who is not able to carry his end of the conversation, that you’ll be prepared to do his work for him!

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4 responses to “Intrapersonal Skills | Foundation 6 – Lesson 3”

  1. jmwatts says:

    I’m a little surprised by this lesson. Something I’m frequently criticized for it giving answers in interviews that are too-long winded and detailed. I’m told I should just spit out an answer and let it lie. Now I’m a bit confused.

    • Jason Seiden says:

      @jmwatts—Excellent point, and I should clarify:
      1) There is a difference between a complete answer and a long answer.
      2) There is a difference between rambling through detail and providing critical detail.
      3) The assignment here is to get practiced at giving a complete answer.

      I should have been more clear in the write up. I want you to practice telling a story with a beginning, a middle, an end, and a POINT… and those take time.

      One of the key skills you need as a salesperson—especially when you’re selling yourself—is to tell a compelling story because that allows you to “control” the flow of the meeting and demonstrate (1) social skills, (2) initiative, and (3) ability to put structure to ambiguity.

      If you simply answer the question in a closed way, all you demonstrate is that you know how to follow directions.

  2. jmwatts says:

    Is this what the tell me a story/ joke interview question is about? Your social skills and ability to make structure of ambiguity? I’ve got to get on top of that. I was caught off guard by it in my last interview. Similar question I’ve been asked several times in interviews… who is your role model/ hero/ someone you admire/ etc.?

  3. Jason Seiden says:

    Yes… With questions like these, the interviewer doesn’t care about the answer, they care about HOW you frame your answer. Better to say, “I can’t think of a hero off the top of my head, but you just made me think of a story that had a big impact on my life. It was something my sister did and for 30 minutes, SHE was my hero. We were 15, and…”

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