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Why Mentally Tough People Win Interviews
13th Oct 2015

There’s been a lot of talk lately about ‘mental toughness’, and how mental strength has an immense bearing on the success of your career. This is certainly the case in construction, yet despite what many think, being mentally tough in this industry isn’t about being tough as nails on a worksite. Rather, it’s about having the resilience and self-belief to back yourself, learn from mistakes and encourage others in the team.

So why are mentally strong people so successful in interviews?

Interviewers are always looking out for signs of mental toughness when hiring for construction roles-and these traits of mental strength are extremely powerful in an interview context.

1.   Mentally tough people see past mistakes not as failure, but an opportunity to learn. This means that when they hear interview questions like ‘tell me what your weaknesses are’ or ‘tell us about the last time that you failed’, mentally strong people are quite able to turn their past hiccups or flaws into a positive- which is exactly what the interviewer is looking for. In a construction context, it might be a project that had cascading delays due to a bad decision you made, a past problem with time-management, or even difficulty leading people that you’ve managed to resolve. The purpose of these questions is to find out how you cope with adversity and challenges, and how you can turn a ‘bad’ into ‘good’ in the workplace. Many of us dread those gnarly questions, but for a mentally tough person it’s not something to fear, rather than to show how much they’ve learnt along the way.
2.   Mentally tough people don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves or blaming others. What does that have to do with interviewing? Well, you’ll almost always be asked why you left your last job- and let’s face it-that might not have been the best moment of your life. You might even be angry or feel poorly treated by your last employer, but mentally tough people don’t get bogged down in bitterness and accept that they had a part in the process.
3.   Mentally strong people see interviews as an exciting opportunity. Because mentally tough people really thrive on challenge and change, they can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase of their careers and this enthusiasm shows.
4.   Mentally tough people praise others rather than suffering envy or diminishing other people’s achievements. In an interview situation, it’s a good idea to mention the effort of others in your past successes, as it shows you’re a good team player. For example, if you’re speaking about a project you managed to bring in under deadline, you should mention the amazing efforts of your team in doing so. Whether you’re going for a trainee role or a project management role, teamwork is vital in construction and someone who shows they appreciate other people’s contributions marks themselves out as a good hire.
5.   Mentally tough people back themselves and aren’t afraid to ask for more during the interview process where they think it’s necessary. Whether that’s more money in the interview, better benefits or a more senior job title, the calm confidence a mentally tough person displays and their ability to explain why they require it often wins them better conditions and more promotions than those who sit quietly and wait for things to come to them.
Growing your mental toughness is a life-long process, yet by displaying some of the behaviours discussed in this article you can signify to the interview panel that you have the self belief and mental strength to excel in the role.
Best regards,