Rejected from job: I need to improve my social skills

Postby unknowwn » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:16 am

I was recently rejected from a job position that I really wanted. I got through 4 rounds of interviews and things were looking good for me. I guess I had an off day and didn't perform as well as I should have in the final (informal) interview.

The next day, I was thankfully given feedback which I truly appreciate because that means I can work on improving my skills.

I was told whilst my professional experience was very good, the interviewer felt that our conversation had a few quiet pauses and that it didn't 'flow' naturally. I admit I probably could have asked more questions when it got quiet and it was my mistake to let the interviewer take the 'lead'. I had never been to an informal interview before so I guess I was more reserved than normal as I didn't know what to expect.

This feedback has brought something to light because now that I think of it, this has been a reoccuring issue for me. I think I definitely need to work on my social skills, appearing more interested in others and having an active role in the conversation. My natural personality is more on the reserved side, people often mistake me for being uninterested in them/the situation. My problem is that I find it difficult to think of questions to ask people in order to further a conversation. My brain literally doesn't think of a question so i just say something like 'mmm yeah that's true' and the conversation ends.

I also feel uncomfortable when people try to get close to me, I don't like explaining things about myself or stories about myself. I only feel comfortable around intimate partners and very close friends. I want to change this though. I don't know why I feel uncomfortable forming connections with people, and when people actually do seem interested in me/my story i feel shocked but happy that someone likes listening to me. The best I can explain it is like an overarching uncomfortableness. I try my best to ignore it by letting the other person speak but i cant do this anymore as it's clearly affecting my professional development.

To be honest, I don't understand why or how my partner liked me in the first place. He said I was extremely quiet when we first met but he could see that wasn't the real me and he knew he had to just peel back the layers lol. So he persisted and well..

I just think I have an issue connecting with people. I feel awkward when a coworker tells me they missed me or is glad to see me and gives me a hug. I acknowledge it's nice and I did miss them too but the actual act of them being so close with me just makes me feel... weird. Ugh I really hate this about myself. Like I want to be closer to them, I really do but I just feel WEIRD about it. I don't know If this is making sense D:

My goal is to work on this because ill need these social skills for my career and the sooner i start practicing the better. My main concern is connecting with strangers. What is your best advice for someone like me? It's times like these I feel like I'm doomed D:
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#1

Postby Candid » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:39 am

I'm so sorry this happened to you, when you'd got so far only to be knocked out in the last round. However, you seem to have good insight into what went wrong.

unknowwn wrote:I admit I probably could have asked more questions when it got quiet and it was my mistake to let the interviewer take the 'lead'.

I think I definitely need to work on my social skills, appearing more interested in others and having an active role in the conversation.


I agree -- except that you write "appearing more interested" instead of "being more interested", and I think that's where you're going wrong.

If you're sitting there thinking of how you appear, you're not attending properly. If you're not attending properly, you're going to miss obvious cues to ask for more information when it's your turn to speak.

If you ARE attending properly, questions will naturally occur to you based on what the interviewer is saying. Self-consciousness is your downfall, here -- and I know how hard it can be not to worry about body language and the look on your face when you know you're being judged, but 'losing' yourself in conversation is a good thing. Genuine interest in what the other person is saying will shine out of you, and this holds good in less pressured social situations as well as in interviews when the result really matters.

Conversely, people can tell when you're not actually listening but are instead running a tape of "That didn't come out right. What must he think of me? I'm no good at this. I can't think of anything to say. Aaaargh, he's stopped talking! What have I missed?"

I also feel uncomfortable when people try to get close to me, I don't like explaining things about myself or stories about myself.


This is probably a good thing, inasmuch as you'd be more sensitive than the average bozo when other people would rather not go further into a delicate area. Again, the clue is to be a good listener rather than a reluctant speaker.

If you're floundering, it can be a good idea to paraphrase the last thing the other person said. It slows things down, fills what might otherwise be an awkward silence, and elicits more information/clarification. Paraphrasing is the most often-used tool in talk therapy, in which the client may be feeling acutely uncomfortable. Accurate paraphrasing shows you've understood, perhaps been able to name the feeling behind the words, building trust and letting the other person know you've understood, they've been truly 'heard'. Just don't rely on it exclusively. You need to be proactive, as well.

I just think I have an issue connecting with people. I feel awkward when a coworker tells me they missed me or is glad to see me and gives me a hug. I acknowledge it's nice and I did miss them too but the actual act of them being so close with me just makes me feel... weird.


You're sensitive and cautious, usually good in winning friends, not so good in influencing people. You can be the first person to say "I missed you" and offer hugs, if that's the culture you're working in. Honest expression of positive regard is always appreciated; insincere compliments are immediately detected and mark you out as a sycophant, so you appear untrustworthy.

You're certainly not doomed, you just need a baseline of "I love and approve of myself, exactly as I am". If that means talk therapy, have it -- but I don't think there's anything wrong here other than a lack of confidence.
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#2

Postby unknowwn » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:27 am

If you're sitting there thinking of how you appear, you're not attending properly. If you're not attending properly, you're going to miss obvious cues to ask for more information when it's your turn to speak.


I rarely think about how I appear when in conversation. It's something I usually do in reflection afterwards. I probably should practice being more present though.


If you're floundering, it can be a good idea to paraphrase the last thing the other person said. It slows things down, fills what might otherwise be an awkward silence, and elicits more information/clarification. Paraphrasing is the most often-used tool in talk therapy, in which the client may be feeling acutely uncomfortable.


Good advice, as you stated it's not wise to rely on this solely. Whats the best way to be more proactive?

You're certainly not doomed, you just need a baseline of "I love and approve of myself, exactly as I am". If that means talk therapy, have it -- but I don't think there's anything wrong here other than a lack of confidence.


Yeah, I definetly struggle a little with confidence as well as accepting myself as I am and just being comfortable in my own skin.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:14 pm

You made it to the final round after a series of interviews and you are now looking towards self-improvement. That’s great.

I picked up on the same phrase Candid pointed out, the “appear more interested”.

I’m going to say something a bit counter intuitive. Work a little less on self improvement and instead work more on improving others. Work on what you can do to help others improve, to get what they want in life.

Everyone wants something in life, right? Why the heck are you not helping them get what they want? Because you are too worried about you and what they think of you.

The reason you can’t think of questions in an interview is because your focus is on presenting yourself to them, i.e. improving yourself, rather than how they might improve, how their life might become better.

Self improvement will be an indirect result of shifting your mindset to helping others. In order to help you can’t just appear to be interested, you will actually have to become interested. Everyone needs help. Everyone has goals, desires, dreams. What are they? How can you help?
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#4

Postby unknowwn » Sat Oct 05, 2019 12:36 pm

I’m going to say something a bit counter intuitive. Work a little less on self improvement and instead work more on improving others. Work on what you can do to help others improve, to get what they want in life.


Thanks for shifting my perspective. That was very helpful. It makes sense because in my natural state, I feel more comfortable when my focus is on others and I genuinely enjoy helping people when I'm not caught up in my own stuff. I need to utilize this strength and focus on helping others to achieve their goals. Reflect reflect reflect, I know I can do that well.
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#5

Postby Candid » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:53 am

unknowwn wrote:Whats the best way to be more proactive?


Before interview you ought to have your agenda throughly worked out. Have a list of questions in your mind, making sure that at least the first and last are about what the company wants. Those questions are about ethos, the kind of person they're looking for, how you will fit in. Naturally this will show that you've been all over their website, the role details and the employee specification. Any questions? Yes. Whatever it is you want to clarify as to what's expected of you. You want to know how well (or not) you're likely to fit in, for your sake as well as not to waste their time.

Questions about time off, holidays, pay and perks have to wait until they've made a firm offer. In my experience, when employers get serious about a candidate they show you around the building and introduce you to key people. I find that absolutely exhausting, myself. I forget name and role as soon as I'm told another one. You win points if you're relaxed, friendly and interested.

I've been known to make a joke in these circumstances, can see immediately that it was Not Funny, and cursed myself for the nerves that inspired me to it. Actually I've had lots of feedback that over the longer term it wins me friends, although my current supervisor (who finds me hilarious) has warned me that not everyone will get my 'dry' (or worse, black) humour. What can I tell you? It's a reflex with me. I'm sure you can do better.
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