Is real excellence a blessing or a curse in securing a fulfilling/rewarding career path?
In the age of measurables, calculated by the matrix of choice, individuals oftentimes are obliged to comply with set operational performance and behavioural standards. Experience with a diverse group of clients has shown that many individuals feel they have to turn down the thermostat to average, or even lower than average temperatures, to best sell themselves – Is this justifiable perception?
It seems that this approach has also permeated the recruiting process. “You are high energy”; “You will intimidate the rest of the team”; “I get you, but I am wondering if you are not too advanced for your peers” are just some of the feedback people receive when applying for what they thought were ideal positions.
I was especially taken aback this week, when a dynamic engineering graduate, with a stellar academic record, excellent peer feedback and above average people/leadership competencies, was rejected by a major organization for an entry level position. Given the extremely positive tone of the interview, he requested a post-interview debrief: “We loved you… but are looking for a rowboat… you are a speedboat” was the alarming reply. Apparently his strategic thinking and innovative ideas were not wanted until “some years down the road”. He was advised to “dumb it down” for his next interview!
None of this makes sense to me! Surely an employer would grab such an individual and groom him for a position that would allow his ability to flourish? My work with graduating students over the years leads me to believe that this not an isolated incident. Much like a litigation lawyer asking for strictly “Yes/No” answers, the current trend to rigorously use the behavioural interview format, at times ignoring nuance, and stifling lateral thinking interviewees! The mesage sems to have become more important han the person! Have individuals been reduced to mere workplace commodities?
Our career planning, job search/interview and career transition programs prefer to encourage candidates to look for positions/organizations that will fully accommodate rather than curb their contribution. In our experience, full and pleasurable investment of all competencies is the first step in achieving career fulfillment!
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