Career Advice Not Worth Taking Part II: Should You Say You’re Always Flexible?

This is the second in a three part series inspired by an e-book of career advice that prescribed answers to interviewing questions. 5460819092_c52c547692

Here, I take a look at the Q & A given by the e-book’s authors, and suggest an alternative response:

Question: What type of work environment do you prefer?

Suggested Answer: Always answer “I am flexible.”

My take: Only answer that you are flexible if YOU REALLY ARE. Because when you are hired, you will work 40+ hours a week in this environment, and if it isn’t a good environment for you—you shouldn’t do it.

Any interview is a two-way street: You pick the employer, and the employer picks you. The interview is your opportunity to find out more about the work environment and to see if it is a good fit for you.

You should know what type of work environment you work best in—do you prefer to work with just one or two colleagues, or with ten? Do you like it when others share your interests—or do you prefer to play a unique role in a team. Were you the coxswain as opposed to a rower on the crew team. Or a goalie on the soccer team instead of a forward?

Would you like to work in an environment in which the “only constant is change” or do you like to know what to expect on a Monday morning?

You should know what you offer first, and answer the question honestly–but in a way which also takes into account the needs of the employer.

Here’s a quick way to do this: Take the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and study up on what others who fall into the same personality type (category) do—and don’t do. (You can even follow-up by checking out the book, Do What You Are, which goes into great detail on this.)

Then develop an answer in advance which is genuine. For example, if you thrive on scheduling and getting things done in advance you might say:

For example, “I can perform well under stress when called to do so, but my general M.O. is to plan so I don’t have to. In my last job, my goal was to complete large assigned projects at least three business days in advance to allow time for error or things that come up. This strategy helped my team meet deadlines–and meant I never had to pull an “all-nighter.”

That’s my answer. What’s your take: How would you answer this one?

Photo by John Crowley

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