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Senin, 06 April 2015

Beware the Perfect Job Candidate

Why is a lack of awareness of one's limitations a mark of poor performance? Compare a schoolyard bully with ten years experience picking on smaller kids, with a black-belt martial artist of the same age, with ten years serious training and several championships to his name. If asked in an interview about the weaknesses of his fighting technique, the bully is likely to respond, "What's it to you?" The martial artist, in comparison, is able to describe a long list of specific imperfections.  "When I front kick, sometimes I drop my weight forwards when I'm placing my foot back on the ground, instead of keeping my balance." "Sometimes I overextend when I punch." The bully might have these same flaws, but would not be aware of them, or understand why they are important.

It's not just that the martial artist is more humble. He has had ten years of constant feedback on what he needs to improve, from expert trainers. He has learned his strengths and weaknesses, and he has learned to self-assess his performance and what he needs to improve. He has spent ten years fixing what needed to be fixed. He knows he is not perfect, but he is much better than when he was untrained. The bully's learning has been much more ad-hoc, and he continues to be unaware of his most important flaws. If these two meet in the ring, the results could be pretty ugly.

In many professional fields, overconfidence can have equally serious consequences. For example, doctors or pilots who believe they are impervious to error sometimes stop listening to advice and warnings from others, with fatal results.

The best job candidates are like the black-belt martial artist. They are confident enough to acknowledge that they are not perfect, which gives them the power to improve. They are able to describe specific skills or aspects of their personal style that they want to develop, and they can describe the actions they need to take to get there.

How can you achieve this? Learn what top performance in your field looks like, by observing others, and by reading and study. What do top performers do? What results do they get? Compare your own performance against these criteria, and seek advice from people who can give you frank and informed feedback. When you find a gap in your performance, be happy. You've found a way to get better.

If you want to keep moving forward, you can't afford to be content with sitting still. If you want to keep improving, you can't afford to be satisfied with your current performance. Find something to improve, and do something about it.


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