You’re in a job interview for a higher-level position, and the recruiter asks you whether you’re willing to run errands, cover the phones or stock shelves. The right answer is really simple. Be truthful.
If the idea of performing menial chores outside your job description makes you sick to your stomach and tears at the very fiber of your self-esteem, then say:
Outside of work, I run errands. I answer my phone pretty much whenever it rings. I put away stuff I buy from the grocery store. But the thought of doing that at work makes me sick to my stomach and tears at the very fiber of my self-esteem. What other stupid questions do I need to answer in this job interview?
That isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds right now.
CNBC calls me, “America’s job coach.” On television, I have coached people who can’t land a position or a promotion, but are offended in a job interview when the recruiter asks if they might do something outside of the job description. They protest that these chores are “below” them.
Wow, they must have quite a staff at home!
I believe I got my first promotion in advertising because when my account executive asked me if I would swab his phone with alcohol pads whenever he was out of the office, I responded:
Do you want me to bring the swabs from home or do we have a supply here?
One week later, I was elevated from account coordinator to account executive, and doubled my salary. Was it my swabbing? Or was it that I was willing to swab?
I watched with sympathy as his next coordinator swabbed. But, I knew her future was bright.
The way to handle these work chores is to frame them as human kindness, which turns out to be good for your mental health as well as your career. Kindness is not an overflowing characteristic of most current or potential employees. Thus, communicating that you’ll always be happy to help out gives you a huge competitive edge.
Therefore, if you want a position because it largely includes the type of work you desire, when the recruiter asks the dreaded “run errands” question during the job interview, your answer will be more like:
Of course. I am always happy to pitch in.
Say this with a smile and a quick nod of your head.
And, when you do those errands, here’s a mantra from my mentor: “It’s the role, not my soul.”