"I'm very punctual." That was my response when a woman asked me why I am a good worker during a phone interview. "Okay," she responded, "but what would your current supervisor have to say about you?" Jeez, I thought. There is nothing positive he could say, especially since we weren't exactly getting along when I decided to leave my job. I mean, I hated working there and he didn't think I was worth anything. Needless to say, I didn't get the job I phone interviewed for. But it made me wonder; what does make a good employee? At my new job, a co-worker has called in twice with terrible excuses (both times within two weeks AND her probationary period!). But she hasn't been fired. So what qualities make someone like that worth keeping? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
This is what I would personally answer in response to that question:
Because I'm knowledgeable and experienced at what I do, but I also understand that sometimes things work a certain way for a reason. I value the experience of my peers and am willing to learn from them before I try to enforce change that I believe in. I understand process, and the need to sometimes do things that seem absurd, because that's the only way the system works.
I spent time in the military, so I understand that mission requirements don't always make sense. I am confident enough to express my opinion once I have all the information I require to provide input. I stand by my people, and I'm someone that my managers can count on for consistent results.
Now, may I ask you a question?
What makes your company worth working for?
Brady, that insightful, I may borrow it the next time I have an interview. I really appreciated your thoughts on asking the interviewer "What makes your company worth working for?" Although you will probably come off as difficult for asking such a question, it really is important. Every company wants to know what's so good about you, why don't they say what's so great about them? Most of them aren't worth working for...and it really doesn't matter, does it? It's all a pitch to get people to apply. "Great benefits! Time off! Paid holidays!" It all sounds so great until the benefits aren't worth bunk, you end up working overtime on your "off days," and you don't get paid as much as you thought you would. Thanks for your post...I really enjoyed it.
By all means, Marlena, borrow away. If asked with sincerity, the question of what makes a company worth working for shows that you are interested in the company and not just the job. Perhaps a better way to phrase it is to ask the interviewer about their opinion, so as to not appear difficult. Talking on this level puts the ball in your court for a few minutes and allows you to do more listening to gauge where the interview is headed.
In that regard, perhaps, "In your opinion, what makes your company worth working for?" would be a far better way of asking the same question. And in the end, you generally want to know that before you give a job a year of your life and find yourself looking for something else.
Thanks Brady! I suppose asking for an opinion is a good idea, but I have to wonder; how many people would be truthful? "Well, to be honest, this place is a dump. You work long hours for minimal pay and it is just terrible." I would love to find someone who would say that because it really would make a difference. If the interviewer is going to decide within ten minutes whether or not I am a desirable employee, then I should also know if they are a desirable employer.
I would think that the interviewer's demeanor and tone of voice while answering this question might tip you off a bit, regardless of what they actually say. Enthusiasm is hard to fake, and misery is hard to hide.
This just made me think of one of my clients -- I've been working with him for four years as an independent contractor, so I've really gotten to witness up-close how his business has been evolving as it grows. Not only is everyone very positive in the online back room, the individuals that I have worked with directly have even told me in private e-mail (from accounts that were not issued and therefore not monitored by the company) how great it is to work in the business, and one told me just how invaluable it is to "be a fly on the wall" with this particular business owner. He was right -- I have personally been able to take my business to a completely different level by the things he's taught me while paying me to learn them. Some companies really are worth working for, they just take some searching for the right fit.
There is a value that employers place on hiring an employee... even a bad employee. Sometimes they want to make sure that a behavior patter is validated before they fire an employee. They spend a lot of money when they hire people and to just fire them quickly is like throwing their money out the door. Good employees understand that process and try to do their jobs the best they can. Remember that sitting next to a bad employee... makes you look really good.
I've heard that from several people, that it costs a company money to hire and fire employees. Therefore, they often hang onto them until they notice that the employee really is bad. Then, they take the necessary steps to document misconduct and fire the people after they have followed protocol. Often, this reduces the chance that the employer faces any liability (including paying unemployment). It's always nice the be the good employee. I think I was the bad employee at my last job...they always seemed to make an example out of me somewhere. So maybe it's not always the person; maybe it's the job. Some people just do well at some things while others succeed at different things.
Sometimes it's better to have the devil you know than the one you don't. While we would all like to believe that we can get rid of our dirty laundry when we fire someone, there is no guarantee that their eventual replacement will work out. Some positions require a substantial "ramp up" period, even for knowledgeable workers, as the ins and outs of the intricacies are learned. Having someone who performs at a reduced rate is better than paying to have someone not perform at all while they are going through training.
I was always in a training position, I never did interviews. I was basically the systems administrator so I had to be fairly patient with most people. This was in a collections firm, so they'd come with collections experience but I'd need to show them how to use OUR system.
Anyway, it was rare for me to see someone who "gets it", if you will.
You only have to show them something once, maybe twice if they're bombarded with learning.
And they understand the reasoning behind it, to the point where they actually question things. Yes men annoyed the heck out of me.
I like someone who can take control of their job, fairly rare from my experiences.
People who take control of their jobs, know what they are doing, and need minimal supervision are the ultimate gold mine for any employer. They want someone to hit the ground running and show their capabilities. In an economy where jobs are difficult to come by, it amazes me that you don't see many hard-working people in search of jobs. People work hard to keep their jobs because they know that there are 200 people in line for it if they leave. So what's the story with all the unemployed?
You also have to consider that we live in an age where many workers still believe in job loyalty and corporations are looking to reduce costs, even if it means sending those jobs to another country.
It's very sad, but only once outside of the military did I ever get a raise from a company I worked for before joining the civil service. My raises often came as a result of negotiations for new positions. It is worth noting that my experience and credentials continued to increase while I was employed, but there is often no need to pay a current employee more for the things they are already doing. It's only by seeking new employment that your certifications and degrees will be considered as course for salary increase. Sometimes it takes notifying your employer of another job offer before they will consider what you're really worth to them.
This isn't always the case, of course. But it was my personal experience. Take it for what you will.
Managers have to delagate responsibility in order to get things done. They are generally held responsible for the performance of the people under their direction. So, employers look for an employee who will not only fit in well with their organization but someone who they can depend on to be accurate and timely with minimal supervision. Employers expect employees to make mistakes, but they also expect them to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. Let an employer know you accept criticism and value the opportunity to improve yourself. Be proactive and handle things before you are asked to do so. Volunteer for extra duties, go the extra mile. In an interview, speak as if you already have the job. Use body language such as leaning forward. Copy the mannerisms of your interviewer.
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