People often ask me what the best questions for candidates to ask at an interview are. Questions about company benefits may be important to you but these should be addressed prior to or after the interview. Instead, focus on identifying what the company needs and how you can benefit them. A good rule of thumb in preparing for interviews is to research and thoroughly consider the “pain points” of the department or organization you are applying to and then craft a good case for how you can help be part of the solution.
Incumbents would do well to remember this too. If you don’t know the challenges that your boss and organization need to navigate, then make it your business to find out; this will enable you to strategize (with the help of your boss, a mentor, or a career coach) how to position yourself to work on the tasks or processes that make the most difference to the company. Working on these issues, and proposing or creating solutions, will help you spotlight your added value to the organization.
Most days we ask G-d to kneel before us. One hundred times per day in our brachos (from the same root as berech – a knee) we ask Hashem to kneel down towards us and provide us with blessing. Rosh Hashanah gives us an opportunity to do something for G-d. Rather than asking G-d for benefits, we proclaim through the shofar and our tefillos that we are vital to the Divine’s plan; the Ruler of the Universe needs us for a very specific role: “… shetamlichuni aleichem” – to coronate and (re)acknowledge G-d as Sovereign over us. Each year we pitch to the Ultimate Interviewer that we are uniquely positioned to ensure the continued success of the mission.
As we reenter our workplaces after Yom Tov, let’s be mindful of what we can give to those around us. Some of our colleagues will be anxious about a return to the workplace following the remoteness of Covid. Others may be coping with lingering effects from illness, or with flooding from recent storms. And some may simply appreciate and be uplifted by the fact that someone noticed them and/or smiled at them. Instead of entering or exiting our buildings and elevators with headphones on and/or glued to our phones, perhaps we can take a moment to greet the security guard or others that we pass along the way. If you’re not great at small talk, there’s no time like the present to brush up on this skill; in addition to enriching the lives of colleagues and associates with relatively minimal outlay on our part, it may also enhance their perception of us – and even how they perceive the Sovereign that we are ambassadors for.
If you lead others, consider what you can do for your direct reports to acknowledge some of the burdens they may carry and show you care. If your boss is burdened or taking an overdue vacation, perhaps there are things you can offer to help them de-stress or unplug while they are away. The mail delivery person, the newbie, the secretary – who do we often overlook or even avoid?
As the return to work (teshuvah?) movement gets underway, let’s be sure not to forget those laboring on our behalf in our personal and spiritual lives: our spouses, rabbis, mechanchim, etc. Just as we’ve had so many special moments and rituals in the Jewish calendar recently, let’s incorporate a couple of rituals of our own into our daily or weekly work calendars. For many of us, this could be a 10-minute block on our calendar during which we call or message a parent, spouse, and/or child to say “I love you.” For others, it could be creating a minute’s pause before deleting or archiving the daily or weekly classroom updates or divrei Torah that we receive, during which time we respond with a thank you to both the creator and The Creator for a new insight into the Torah or into the lives of our loved ones.
And for all of us blessed with employment, perhaps we can calendar 10-15 minutes a week or an hour every Rosh Chodesh to consider those that are less fortunate and extend a suggestion, introduction, or offer of a resume review.
Whether at interview or in life in general, we’d do well to heed the words of JFK:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country…. Ask not what America can do for you but what – together – we can do for the freedom of man.”