Career Watch: Thinking outside the box during a job interview

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Jacqueline M. Lucas

The CIO at Baptist Healthcare System answers questions about having your suggestions taken seriously and more.

I'm always making suggestions, almost all of which are ignored by my boss. I've been here long enough that we have started implementing some of the things I suggested years ago, but only because everyone else now does things that way. I feel frustrated. I don't want to be a manager myself, but boy, would I like to be the guy who makes decisions! What I'm wondering about right now, though, is whether I could learn to be more influential or if I just need a new job and a new boss. You should consider how you are presenting your suggestions. Are you tossing them out casually with little preparation? Are you offering to help champion, manage or implement suggestions or just throwing them out, hoping the supervisor will take them on and make them happen?

My recommendation is to vet each suggestion with colleagues before presenting them, to assess their feasibility. Then prepare a brief document outlining the suggestion and how it could be accomplished and present it to the boss with an offer to participate in the implementation. This sends the message that you are serious and have done your homework, and it should elicit a response.

You have to understand that there are circumstances that can prevent a manager from implementing a recommendation -- applicability, risk aversion, monetary restraints, competing priorities, etc.

And, of course, the decision to leave a position is a major one and should be made based on many factors, including career path, job market, location and family needs.

I often have to work with a very negative person. I deflect the complaints as best I can, but it actually wears me out to be with him. What can I do? One approach would be to take the co-worker aside and, in a caring manner, say that it's obvious that he's unhappy and that you'd like to know how you could help make things better. This will not only open up a dialogue, but also let your co-worker know that his attitude is noticeable. Sometimes people don't even realize how they are perceived. However, you must be ready to listen to the person and offer some constructive solutions and assistance.

What has been most helpful to you in your career: education, experience or people? Can I choose all of the above? All three have played major roles in my career at different times, with education dominating early in my career and experience and relationships with people being more important most recently.

If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com, and watch for this column each month.

The Outside-the-Box Job Interview

Here are some tips for your next IT job interview, from John B. Molidor and Barbara Parus, authors of Crazy Good Interviewing: How Acting a Little Crazy Can Get You the Job.

1. Show your analytical side. Create a presentation on your iPad illustrating how you saved a previous employer money and/or time by recommending a software product or a new system.

2. Flaunt your "app-titude." If you created an app for a former employer, show it off.

3. Make a mock-up. Present an idea for an app that would benefit your prospective employer's organization.

4. Critique the employer's website. Make some positive observations, and then add a couple of suggestions for improvement that would ease navigation or drive sales.

5. Be enthusiastic and talk as if you already have the job. For example, if the interviewer mentions a new implementation, say, "When can we get started?" One successful job candidate insists this strategy has resulted in several job offers.

Read more about management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.

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