When you’re applying for a new job, there’s a temptation to try to impress the hiring manager by talking about the many, long, hard hours that you work. However, this strategy can actually backfire. But, why? And what should you do to increase your chances of getting hired?
Do Less and Obsess
“What will get you hired is showing your interviewer/potential employer that you don’t just work hard, but you perform well by obsessing over the tasks that can bring about the most success,” says UC Berkeley management professor Morten Hansen, author of GREAT AT WORK: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.
When you work between 30 and 50 hours per week, Hansen says your performance will improve. “However, once you’re working between 50 and 65 hours per week, the benefit of adding additional hours drops off.” And when you get to 65 hours or more, he says your performance actually starts to decline. Hansen’s philosophy is to “do less, then obsess.”
His book is based on a five-year study of over 5,000 managers and workers. Only 16 percent of the 5,000 scored very high on the statement, “He/she is extremely good at focusing on key priorities, no matter how much work and how many things he/she has to do.” On the other hand, 26 percent scored very low on this item.
Working extra hours can also create the impression (whether true or not) that you are not organized, you’re not disciplined, or you don’t have the skills necessary to perform at a consistent level. So do yourself a favor and don’t discuss your workaholism during a job interview.
Make a Name for Yourself
Even if you’re interviewing within the same company, don’t expect to be selected based solely on your work performance. “If you’re a “heads-down” type of employee who doesn’t engage outside of the team, network, or make a name for yourself with other hiring managers, you may not be the candidate selected for the next promotion,” warns Kori Renn, career coach lead of undergraduate career services at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “Why not? No one knows you’re interested in the job or what you’re capable of,” she explains.
You might not be the type of person who brags on yourself or says, “Hey, look at me!” But there are other ways to get noticed. “In order to be upwardly mobile, you have to raise your hand for projects beyond your team, for leadership positions within professional organizations outside your organization, and make it known that you want to grow,” says Renn. “If other managers aren’t aware of your work, it’s not your current manager’s responsibility to market you.” It’s also not in their best interest to do so! Some managers want what’s best for the company, but some want what’s best for themselves. If you’re an excellent worker, they might want to keep this knowledge hidden from others.
“In today’s work environment, employees are intentionally given more work that one person can handle,” Renn says. “A gap on a team can create quite a bit of hardship for a manager, so as an effective employee, don’t expect your manager to be quick to find an advancement opportunity for you.”
Whether interviewing for an internal or external position, she says you have to market your skills and translate what you’ve done previously to the next role. “You really have to think from the context of the hiring manager: what specifically does this person need to get done now, and how do your previous experiences prove that you can do it?”
Mastering your public speaking skills can also make you a more viable candidate, while honing your negotiation skills can help you shape the terms of your new job to your advantage.