Category

Interviews

Opportunistic Outsourcing: Career Path Advancement for Key Contributors

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Business coach Peter Drucker was known for dispensing some sage advice that still rings true decades later: “Do what you do best and outsource the rest.” What comes to mind when you hear that mantra? An immediate list likely appears of all the tasks you know are not the greatest use of your efforts and energy. In the few seconds you spent thinking about what pops to mind you may already have vowed not to waste time any longer on select mundane projects or responsibilities that fill your plate and don’t leave room for much else. “I really need to hire someone to manage my schedule” or “someone else should be responsible for compiling our weekly reports” are certainly reasonable solutions, but the outsourcing we will cover next is far more strategic.

Instead of viewing outsourcing as a chance to create more time for you, shift instead to think through how outsourcing could actually create an opportunity for others within your team.

The Shift

Stop thinking of outsourcing as the things you no longer want to do and look instead at the opportunities you could create for others. A great leader is always one step ahead of career path advancement for key contributors. Take a moment (or a few hours) to evaluate each direct report you have; who are they each capable of becoming over the next few years and beyond? Now, what do you need to teach each of them to advance their responsibilities and skillsets?

You have now defined your first round of opportunistic outsourcing.

Think less about performance management and think more about professional development. Do you spend the same amount of time talking about where you see a key contributor’s career going as you do talking about how they are doing with deadlines or quotas? Is your coaching equally dedicated to skills that will help them achieve in their current role just as much as prepare them for the next step you believe they could grow into? Do you purposefully put key contributors in situations in which they may fail, but that failure propels growth?

At times, you may need to believe in others a little more than they believe in themselves. The best leaders help their team members discover their genius.

Survivorship Bias

When you focus too heavily on the “survivors” of a given group, you tend to ignore essential qualities about the rest of the population. Take entrepreneurship; we tend to gravitate toward the most successful entrepreneurs in the world when we study examples. Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school; after learning about them many people conclude that a college education is not necessary to succeed.

But for every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are thousands, if not millions, of other entrepreneurs who dropped out of school and failed in business. We just don’t hear about them, and so we don’t take them into account. The misconception is that you should focus on the successful if you wish to become successful.

How does this relate to our topic at hand? Until now, we have been focusing on key contributors – those whom you feel strongly will continue to play an integral role in the success of your organization. What about those who hover just below that line?
One option is certainly to “top grade” and perpetually focus on proactive hiring that improves the strength of your bench, not just hiring that fills empty seats. Spend less time addressing reoccurring performance issues and instead craft a hiring plan that proactively attracts the “A” or “B+” contributors to the team.

An additional option is to opportunistically outsource. Give others the chance to take on tasks and responsibilities they can succeed with and are passionate about. Be sensitive to the skills and interests of individuals; match the dreamer with more creative tasks and the perfectionist with the detail-oriented projects. Just think how much more would get done if people only did jobs for which they had a talent and a passion. Don’t focus only on the already successful individuals within your team but outsource thoughtfully to those to whom you are still trying to uncover their fullest potential.

Just Ask

Not sure what to outsource, and to whom? Challenge yourself to get to know those on your team. Ask questions to assess the present and design the future:

  • When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?
  • What are you learning here? What have you not yet been given the chance to take on, that you’d like to?
  • Is this what you want to do?
  • What can I do to make your experience here better?
  • What would you be excited to take on? (projects, responsibilities, clients)
  • When was the last time you feel like you massively over-delivered on something? What was it, and why did you work so hard?
  • What would make you listen to a call you’d get from a recruiter? Be honest; no judgment!
  • What’s on your personal and professional bucket list?
  • Fast-forward a year (two years, five years) from now; what would you be most proud of having accomplished?

Even when individuals are assigned difficult challenges, when they are involved in the decision there is a huge increase in performance. Those who volunteer look at projects as developmental, while those who are assigned regard the task as hard labor. Take the initiative now to truly engage the hearts and minds of your team, so they one day will have the ability to outsource opportunistically to the next generation of future leaders within your firm.

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How to Use Behavior-Based Questions to Gauge Emotional Intelligence in the Interview

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One of the goals of an interview is to assess whether the candidate has the emotional intelligence needed to succeed in the job. An emotionally intelligent person demonstrates self-awareness, empathy, motivation, and strong social skills. These tips will help you develop behavior-based questions that can effectively gauge emotional intelligence during the interview.

Facing Challenges

An important aspect of the candidate that should be assessed is how they face challenges. One way to do this is by asking about professional demands they have faced. Have the candidate tell you about past trials they encountered in their job and have them explain how they overcame it. This will give insight into how they approach problems. The focus of this question should be on finding candidates who are excellent problem-solvers and aren’t afraid to take on new challenges. Finding employees who can take a difficult situation and turn it into a positive is essential.

Resilience and Stress Management

The ability to bounce back from adversity is a powerful life skill to have. One way to assess a candidate’s resilience is to ask them about past projects that required them to work under pressure. Have the candidate talk about professional projects they have worked on that were stressful or that ultimately failed. Executive support positions come with a certain amount of stress. There are deadlines and goals that need to be met. It’s important to understand how a candidate behaves under pressure. Do they shut down when things become too tough, or do they push through and make the best of the situation? The goal is to find talent who has the emotional maturity to thrive in intense situations.

Proactive Drive

To ascertain a candidate’s level of drive, ask them whether they have ever assisted in establishing new goals for a company. Allow the interviewee to discuss a time where they helped establish new goals or objectives for a company they worked for. This can reveal a lot about a candidate. Are they proactive? Can they identify shortcomings within the company? If they managed to convince management to implement a new objective, this shows they are persuasive.

Growth and Leadership

In executive support roles, it’s vital that candidates have great leadership skills, adaptability, and a willingness to grow. To get an understanding of their strength in those areas, ask them if they changed the scope of their role in their last job. How did they redefine the position and why did they feel like they needed to? Did other coworkers follow suit and redefine their own roles? It’s helpful to see how well the candidate can adapt and grow. A candidate who is confident enough to take on additional responsibilities and has strong leadership skills will rise to the challenges of a new position.

Behavior-based questions are the most important questions you ask during an interview. These questions allow you to understand how a candidate would perform if they land the job. One of the goals of behavior-based questions is to assess the candidate’s emotional intelligence– how they handle stress, if they are proactive, and if they have the skills to readily adapt to change.

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Interview Preparation

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A little preparation before the interview will help take the edge off of the event. Here are some simple ways to get ready for your meeting.

Practice Questions for Everyone

To give you a little practice in answering both traditional and behavior-based questions, here are some interview questions that might be asked of an applicant going for a position at any level in an organization. After each question, you’ll find an analysis of the question, which may help you understand how to answer such a question in your job interview.

1. Could you please tell me about yourself?
Although this question is broad, keep your answer focused and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Mention the top three or four aspects of your experience, skills, interests, and personality that make you a qualified candidate for the job.

2. What are your long- and short-term career goals?
Good question! The interviewer is trying to get a feel for why you want this job and how long you’re going to stick with it. The ideal answer will assure the employer that you’re worth his investment—that is, training you, introducing you to clients, entrusting you with responsibility. Your answer should assure him that you’ll be around for awhile—and maybe even a long time.

3. Outside of work, what are some of the things you do?
Employers know that what an applicant does for free can speak louder about his character than what he does for money. Tell the interviewer about something in your nonprofessional life that says: “Hey, I’m a good person.”

4. What strengths do you bring to this job that other candidates might not?
There’s no hidden message here. The employer’s giving you the floor to sell yourself for the job. Prepare well for this answer and deliver it with confidence. After all, who knows more about why you’re suited for the job than you? And make your presentation using brief achievement stories whenever possible.

5. Why do you want to leave your current position?
Ah, the interviewer’s concerned about any problems that might pop up on your next job—especially since that might be with him. Be sure to use good judgment here. Don’t bad-mouth your current boss and don’t bring up anything negative.

6. Why did you leave your last job?
Sounds like the interviewer wants to know if there are any underlying problems like: lack of commitment, difficult personality, poor performance, or anything that might lead to termination. Employers don’t want to take on someone who has a record of walking out on jobs or getting fired. No matter why you left your last job, couch your response in positive terms, without lying.

7. Please explain why you have a gap in your employment history.
With this question, the employer’s looking for any problems in your personal life that might become his headache if he hires you. Explain your gaps honestly, leaning on activities that support your job objective, if that’s possible. If you don’t have anything to say that’s relevant, then talk about activities that show your strength of character and helped you know what you really want to do next: the job you’re interviewing for.

8. Of all the problems you had at your previous position, which was the hardest to deal with?
What a sneaky question! “Of all the problems”… don’t fall for it. Don’t let on that you had lots of problems, even if you did. Instead, refer briefly to an area you—and probably the rest of the world—find challenging, and move right on to how you’ve learned to deal with it.

9. What project required you to work under pressure? And what were the results?
How you respond to this question will tell the interviewer whether or not you like working under pressure. Be honest and positive. All jobs bring with them a certain amount of pressure, but some have a lot more than others. So give an example where the level of pressure was just right for you, which will suggest how much pressure you’re looking for on your next job.

10. What college experience are you especially proud of?
If you haven’t been in the workforce long, this question is your opportunity to give balance to the fact that you don’t have much paid experience. Spotlight your academic and extracurricular achievements, especially the ones that are relevant to your job objective.

11. What classes or training are you planning to pursue at this point?
This one’s tricky. You want to look dedicated to developing your profession but you don’t want to appear to have so much going on that you won’t be 100 percent on the job. Make it clear that your number one priority is your job; developing your profession is second.

Legal Answers to Illegal Questions

Even though it may be illegal for an interviewer to ask a certain question, it’s not illegal for you to answer it. So if you’re asked one of those hot button issues, think carefully before answering. Figure out whether it’s to your advantage to respond honestly or to hedge the issue.

Think about it: Answering honestly might be to your advantage. Let’s say you want to work at an elementary school and the interviewer wants to know if you have children. If you tell him you have two kids, he might see it as a plus.

But let’s say you want to work as a traveling salesperson and the interviewer asks if you have kids? It would probably be better not to talk about your kids at that point. If you don’t want to answer the question, whatever you do, don’t accuse the interviewer of having broken the law. Instead, take a minute to understand what’s behind the question. If he’s asked if you have kids, maybe he’s concerned that you’ll be pulled away from work a lot. In that case, you could answer, “I believe you’re concerned about my attendance on the job. Let me assure you that my personal life won’t interfere with my work.”

Questions You’re Afraid Of

Almost all of us have questions we’d rather not be asked. To avoid going into an interview with anxiety about the possibility of those questions emerging, do two things:

  1. Review your resume before you send it out to be sure it doesn’t highlight anything that would instigate conversation about one of your “dark” issues.
  2. Make a list of the questions you’re afraid of and practice how you’ll answer them in a positive way.

A Word of Thanks

When the interview draws to an end, thank the interviewer by name, saying something like, “Ms. Jones, this interview has been really helpful and enjoyable. Thank you! Is it OK for me to call you tomorrow if I have more questions?” or “I’m very interested in this job. What is the next step in your hiring process?” Make sure you show enthusiasm.

And don’t forget to thank the administrative assistant and receptionist on your way out. And to be a real hit, use their names if you know them. It always helps to be friends with these folks, since they’re the ones who screen calls and messages.

20 Job Interview Tips

  1. Get clear directions to the interview site and arrive on time—or early—for your meeting.
  2. Advise the candidate on appropriate attire for this interview. Remember to remind them not to show cleavage, to dress conservatively, light makeup, no perfume, close-toed shoes, etc.
  3. When you pack your bag for the interview, be sure to put in a few copies of your resume, a pen, note pad, and that list of questions you want to ask. Also bring samples of your work, if you have any (such as a brochure you wrote or a design your created), that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  4. Your interview starts the minute you walk in the company’s front door and lasts until you exit that door. So, keep your best foot forward from start to finish.
  5. Smile, especially when you first meet the interviewer. That first impression will stick in the manager’s mind for a long time.
  6. There’s nothing like a confident handshake! The right amount of tension in your grip is important—not too tight, not too limp.
  7. Eye contact is actually a form of communication and it has a magical ability to build rapport. So, make eye contact with your interviewer, both when you’re talking and when he’s talking.
  8. Try to have good posture that shows you’re alert and focused. Avoid negative body language. In other words, don’t cross your arms over your chest, don’t clench your fists, don’t clutch your purse or briefcase tightly, or do anything that might indicate insecurity, hostility, or resistance to change.
  9. Listen carefully to everything the interviewer says, and ask questions when you don’t understand something. Understanding each question will help you give the best response.
  10. Answer questions with an appropriate balance of confidence and modesty.
  11. Respond with answers based on PAR (Problem, Action, Result): What was a problem you faced? What action did you take to solve it? What was the result?
  12. Shift your interview from an interrogation to a dialog by occasionally finishing your answers with a relevant leading question.
  13. Once in awhile, answer a question by saying what somebody else has said about you. Something like: “My supervisor always used to say, ‘Bob’s the one you want around when it’s time to launch a product.’”
  14. It’s OK to be quiet for a minute before you answer a question. It’ll help you gather your ideas and give a good answer. The employer will appreciate the fact that you’re thoughtful.
  15. Be honest, even if that means saying you don’t know something or you don’t have a particular experience. At some point, you may need to say something like: “No, I’ve never done that, but here’s why I know I can do it, or why I think I’d be very good at it.”
  16. Be prepared to tell stories that demonstrate how you work with people, as the interviewer is undoubtedly curious as to how you’ll fit in with his staff. Remember to weave your stories into the answers of pertinent questions.
  17. A great way to build rapport is to use your interviewer’s name when you answer a question. So learn his name, and, if it’s a tricky one, practice the pronunciation beforehand so it’ll roll off your tongue during your interview.
  18. Delay talking about salary history and expectations until you fully understand what is entailed in the job and you’ve had time to think about what is fair. (More about salary negotiations coming up.)
  19. When introduced to potential co-workers, be friendly. Your interviewer may be watching to see how you interact with his staff and may later ask employees how they liked you.
  20. Send a thank you letter as soon as your interview is completed. After all, the employer took a chunk out of his day to give you a chance to win a job, so this is the time for you to say “thanks” —in writing.

How to Thrive In a Phone Interview

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Phone interviews are frequently used by companies to save time by pre-qualifying your interest and expertise. The following are some recommendations to ensure your next phone interview is successful for you.

Isolate Yourself

Phone interviews place you at a disadvantage because you only have one tool of communication, your voice. The interviewer’s impression of you is shaped by all the sounds coming through the phone. Insulate yourself from distractions and background noises. Do not have your phone interview when you are surrounded by a lot of noise like an outdoor café at a busy intersection. If the call is on your cell phone make sure the caller can hear you clearly.

 

Stand Up

During the call stand up, walk around and smile. All these things make a big difference in the projection and quality of your voice.

 

What’s Next

At the conclusion, ask the interviewer about next steps and timing of their hiring process.

 

Prepare Your Responses

Phone interviews follow a similar pattern of questioning with the purpose of screening you out of consideration. Below is a list of questions most phone interviewers ask. Write down and practice your responses.

– Tell Me About Yourself.

– What do you know about our company?

– How did you learn about this position?

– What is our current salary?

– What are your compensation requirements?

– Why are you looking for a new position?

– What are your strengths?

– What are your weaknesses?

– Do you have any questions?

 

Questions You Ask

Questions are your primary tool of influence with an interviewer. Questions help you direct the conversation and assess if the company is right for you. Here are some questions to ask during a phone interview.

– What business imperatives are driving the need for this position?

– Describe the three top challenges that I’ll face in this job?

– What are the characteristics of people who are most successful in your company?

– What are the key deliverables and outcomes that this position must achieve?

 

Closing Questions:

Questions you ask at the end of the phone interview.

– What additional information would you like me to provide?

– What concerns do you have at this point?

– What are the key things you’d like to learn about my background?

– When is the best time to follow up with you?

EA Interview Questions

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Intellectual:

  1. Tell me about the last time you had to learn a new task. How did you go about learning? What, if any tools, did you employ?
  2. How do you stay on top of developments/trends in your field?
  3. Tell me how you keep your executive organized.
  4. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  5. What questions do you have for me?
  6. Who’s your mentor? Who is your role model, and why?
  7. What questions haven’t I asked you?
  8. What’s something that you can teach me?

Character:

  1. Was there a time when you had to agree to a decision even if it was against your will? Why did you agree?
  2. What bothers you most about other people?
  3. Tell me about the time a manager rejected one of your ideas. How did you react to his/her feedback?
  4. Tell me about the time you were asked to do something that violated your personal code of ethics.
  5. If I assign work that isn’t part of your job description, what will you do?
  6. Tell me a story about how you solved a conflict or disagreement between you and a former colleague.
  7. What are your hobbies?
  8. What is your favorite website?
  9. What are your favorite apps?
  10. Give an example of a time that you had to respond to an unhappy manager/customer/colleague.
  11. Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a rule or approach.
  12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake, and how you dealt with it.

Relationship:

  1. Share a rewarding team experience.
  2. Tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult team member.
  3. If I called your previous boss, what would they say your strengths are? What would your friends say?
  4. How could your colleagues describe you?
  5. If I called your boss right now and asked them about an area that you could improve on, what would they say?
  6. Describe a time when your team or company was undergoing some change. How did that impact you, and how did you adapt?

Motivational:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. What are your career goals?
  3. Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
  4. Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?
  5. What kind of rewards are most satisfying for you?
  6. Tell me about a time when you were bored on-the-job. What did you do to make your job moreinteresting?
  7. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient,or less expensive.
  8. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  9. Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?

Work Function

  1. Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
  2. Why would you be an asset to the firm?
  3. What are your areas for development?
  4. What is the most difficult aspect of your current position? How do you deal with it?
  5. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  6. How do you handle pressure?
  7. Why are you interested in working for us?
  8. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days / 60 days / 90 days on the job?

Acing the Interview Game

By | Interviews, Uncategorized

Before the Interview

Do your market research. Review the company website and review the position specifics. The more you know about the company and the position, the better you can customize your answers and attributes.

Research the company and gather as much information on whom you will be speaking with and what their role is. Listen to their questions and make your answers relevant and succinct. Remember you have to keep them interested! Take a look at where they’ve worked, gone to school or interests that they display on their public profiles. We highly recommend checking out their Twitter feed to get an idea of what they talk about.

During the Interview

Create rapport. This means using eye contact, smiling and showing enthusiasm. The biggest criticism we hear from hiring managers is that applicants do not show enough enthusiasm for the position. Asking questions about the company and the position is a great way to show interest and to work through nervousness. Smile and listen to the answers; they will help you later!

Tailor your responses to questions by speaking in terms of the specific position. Emphasize how your qualities will benefit the company. Emphasize how your qualities will benefit the company.

Ask your recruiter for information about the person(s) you will be interviewing with as well as the person(s) with whom you will be working with.

After the Interview

Be positive, enthusiastic and energetic about the new opportunity. Enthusiasm is infectious and employers like to hire candidates with energy and a good attitude to do the job.

Send a thank you note via email as soon as possible.