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Mastering Job Interviews and Career Growth: Strategies from Adunola Adeshola

Adunola Adeshola

Adunola Adeshola

Career Strategist

Key Takeaways

  • Strategic Interview Prep: Understand the job and company culture to align your achievements with their needs. Tailor stories to highlight your potential impact and engage in meaningful conversation.
  • Mastering “Tell Me About Yourself”: Focus on your expertise, key achievements, and excitement for the role to clearly link your career path with the job you’re seeking.
  • Interview Pitfall Avoidance: Share relevant experiences, avoid rehearsed responses for authenticity, and show genuine interest in the company’s mission to stand out.
  • Post-Interview Reflection: Note what went well, insights on the role, and areas for improvement. This practice sharpens interview skills and aids future preparation.
  • Addressing Career Plateaus: Recognize stagnation by evaluating job satisfaction and growth opportunities. Explore your aspirations to identify the next steps toward career advancement.
  • Balancing Work and Life: Schedule personal and work commitments intentionally. Set boundaries and end your workday with planning to manage a demanding career while maintaining personal well-being.

Mastering the Art of Job Interviews

Are you ready to transform your career trajectory and master the delicate art of balancing a fulfilling professional life with personal well-being? In this insightful Q&A with Adunola Adeshola, a renowned career strategist and founder of employeeREDEFINED, we look into the nuances of acing high-stakes job interviews, overcoming career plateaus, and cultivating a harmonious work-life balance. Adunola’s practical advice offers a roadmap for those seeking to make impactful first impressions, identify and pursue meaningful career growth, and maintain their sanity in today’s fast-paced work environment. Whether you’re preparing for your next big interview or looking to reignite your passion for your career, Adunola’s wisdom is your guide to navigating these challenges with confidence and strategy.

“One of my best tips for preparing for a high-stakes job interview is to study the job description. Get clear on the results they’re looking for you to accomplish. See if you can spot any challenges they’re facing. Dive deeper into the company to understand their mission, values and goals, and to make sure you align with them. Taking the time to truly understand the role, the company and your potential responsibilities will help you determine which stories, results and accomplishments you should share in the interview to ensure the interviewer leaves confident that you can do the job. It’ll also help you have a more informed and interesting conversation that goes beyond rehearsed interview responses.”

“The main question that always stumps candidates is the dreaded question: “Tell me about yourself.” Some candidates might find that they ramble and overshare when answering this question. Others might find that they don’t share enough information. 

To fix both of these issues, when answering the question I suggest focusing on three things. First, provide details about what you currently do or your general expertise as it relates to your desired role. Then, provide hard facts to show how your overall experience has prepared you for this next step in your career. But, this should be at a very high-level, you don’t need to talk about every single position you’ve ever had, sharing two to three relevant highlights is a good rule of thumb. 

Then, lastly, end your response by sharing your excitement for the position you’re interviewing for now. You can do this by sharing how your career journey and your current career goals align with the position, so that the interview clearly sees how the role you’re interviewing for is the obvious next step for you and your career.”

“There are many common mistakes that can impact candidates when interviewing. Here are a few: focusing too much on your career history, over-rehearsing your interview responses and being disconnected from the mission and culture of the company. 

Reciting your career history makes the conversation more about you and less about the company and what you can do for them. So, instead of bombarding them with everything you’ve ever done in your career, share your experience in a way that gives them a taste of what you can do for them. 

Next, when you over-rehearse your interview responses, you are more likely to get caught off guard if the interviewer asks you a question you weren’t expecting. And, you’re more likely to feel down if you don’t answer a question exactly the way you practiced, which can impact your mood and confidence. So, rather than practicing your responses word-for-word, get clear on the overall message you want to convey for each interview question. 

Finally, while you might be the perfect candidate for the actual role, if you’re disconnected from the company’s culture and mission, or even uninterested in what they’re doing, that will likely come across in the interview and can lead to you not landing the job offer. To avoid this, try to only apply for opportunities that actually excite or interest you. This way you don’t have to fake it or risk coming across uninterested.”

“One of the most underrated things you can do after an interview is take notes. Take a few minutes to write down things you feel went well, things you learned about the role and company, and things you want to do better next time. This will help you prepare for future interviews with the company and will help you with your interview skills, in general. This can also help you stay organized if you have multiple interviews with multiple companies. And, additionally, it can give you the feedback you might desire, should the opportunity not pan out the way you hoped.”

Overcoming Career Plateaus

“Some common signs that you’re in a career plateau are you feel bored all the time at work, you don’t feel challenged by the work you’re doing and you feel like you’ve outgrown your current position or company. If you find yourself feeling any of these things, then it’s time to get curious. Consider what might be missing in your career right now? Are you bored because you’re ready for a new challenge? Are you bored because you like the work you do but don’t enjoy the clients you work with? Or, are you ready to step into a new company or high-level role? Do you feel like it’s time to switch industries entirely? Asking yourself these questions and getting curious about what’s missing and what would be most exciting for you right now can help point you in the right direction and give you clues as to what needs to improve in your career.”

“Get very clear on what career growth means to you. Don’t expect your manager to decide for you. Take a proactive approach by taking the time to determine what you’d like to experience in your career and at the company, whether that be a promotion or even a role change. From there, communicate your desires and get clear on what the expectations and timeline will be for you to achieve the career growth you desire. If there are things that your manager expects you to do to show you’re ready for the next step, start doing those things. But, most importantly, as you do those things and get results, keep a track record so that you can return to the conversation with hard facts on why you’re ready for the promotion or role change you desire.”

Work-Life Balance for High-Achievers

“One of the things I live by and share often is this: Your career is one part of your life but it’s not your entire life. I was lucky enough to hear this from the very first manager in my career and it’s stuck with me since. And, while your career can have a major impact on how you feel about your life, especially when it’s not going well, you should also be intentional about the other things that make your life meaningful. 

With that said, it’s not always possible to achieve constant balance, sometimes things fall through the cracks, especially when you have a demanding career. But, one thing I recommend to clients and others is to consider the top five people or things in your life that add meaning and value to you. Then, set aside intentional time every week, month or quarter, depending on your schedule, to ensure that you’re making time for those things. You may not be able to achieve work-life balance, but if you commit to being intentional about the other things in your life that are important to you, you can achieve a semblance of work-life harmony. “

What’s your approach to setting and maintaining boundaries for work-life balance?

“Boundaries should first start with yourself before you create boundaries with others. This is especially important if you’re a high-achiever, or over-achiever who tends to burn the midnight oil working, simply because you can. Setting boundaries with yourself will help you cultivate the life and work experience you desire and it will also help others respect your boundaries once they see you upholding your own boundaries with yourself. 

So, once you’re clear on your boundaries, from there, communicate those boundaries to others. This might mean you have to say no more often, which can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you have trouble with this. But, to help you navigate this, rather than simply saying no, try saying no and providing an alternative. So, for example, if you find that your boss asks you to stay late for the 8th time, you could say, “I’m unavailable to stay late today but I can still provide the documents you need by 10am tomorrow morning.” Providing an alternative suggestion can alleviate the awkward feelings you have about saying no to your manager or team.”

Could you share any specific advice that helps to juggle a demanding career and personal commitments?

“One practical thing I’ve recently implemented is considering all of my personal commitments and my work commitments at the top of the week. When you’re busy managing a busy career, it can feel like second nature to jump right into the work-week as soon as Monday commences. And, if you’re anything like me, you might forget to come up for air until you’re reminded it’s Friday. So, these days, to prevent that, I schedule my personal commitments right along with my work commitments. 

Sure, that might occasionally mean you have an even fuller week. But, again, if you’re clear on the top five people and things that are important to you, setting aside that intentional time can feel even more fulfilling than sitting on the couch after a long day. Still, the best part about this is staying organized, planning and prioritizing your personal commitments with the same urgency that you prioritize your work commitments. However, some days, weeks and even months might be better than others, so give yourself grace and keep working at it.”

What strategies do you recommend for high-achievers to “switch off” from work mode?

“Have you ever had that moment where you’re laying in bed thinking about all the things you need to do the next day? If that happens to you more than you like, then another practical thing that I would recommend is to end your work day by planning your next day. 

And, if you really want to take it up a notch, start your week by writing out your top priorities for the week–and even for each day, if possible. At the very least, jotting down your to-do list and schedule at the end of your work day can help you switch off from work mode once your work day is over because you already know what you’re going to do the next day. You don’t have to wrestle with any lingering thoughts when it’s time to go to sleep. Even if you work remotely and the end of your work day simply means closing your laptop, this is still a good practice to help you shift out of work mode.”

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