The Daily Recruiter

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Category: Interview Questions (Page 1 of 8)

ARE YOU INTERVIEWING?

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“Article courtesy of  The FMP Contributor”

This is one of my all-time favorite interview questions to answer. The answer may surprise you or contradict other things that you have heard, but I can assure you, this is the best solution 99% of the time. When someone asks if you are interviewing with any other companies your answer should always be YES! There are 3 main things that happen when you admit to interviewing with other companies.

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How To Successfully Respond To A Question You Really Don’t Want To Answer

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“By Stephanie Vozza, of FastCompany.com”

If you watched the presidential debates, you may have come to the conclusion that answering questions is optional. If you don’t want to provide an answer, simply insert your own topic and carry on.

When you’re at work and your client or boss asks a question, however, it’s not always smart to change the subject and promote your own agenda. Questions need to be addressed.

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3 Great Questions to Ask Candidates in Interviews

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“By Ruaidhri Horan, of Abrivia Entertainment”

Your job as hiring manager is to identify the best talent for the organisation by asking the “right questions” in an interview situation. What are these “right questions” an what will they achieve?

The “right questions” will probe a lot deeper than anything than can be ascertained from a CV or application form. They should provide you with a lot more information about the candidates work history and achievements, give a good insight into a candidates personality and how they behave under pressure. Ultimately a “right question” will facilitate an interviewer in assessing an applicant’s suitability for the job and give a good indication into how they will potentially fit into the culture of your organisation.

Below are what I consider 3 highly impactful interview questions:

1. Why do you want to work in this industry?

Beware of candidates who simply say that they love the industry without giving a relevant background history combines with some success stories in regards their achievements to date. Beware of candidates who have obviously not researched the industry and give general vague answers that could be applied to any industry.

2. Tell me about yourself?

This is a fantastic opportunity for candidates to sell themselves. Look for candidates who focus on what they bring to the table in regards the position on offer. Be wary of those who give a chronological work history without focussing on their strengths and how they pertain to the role.

3. What do you think of your previous boss?

Some candidates will use an interview to slate their previous boss and in essence badmouth them to a complete stranger. Do you want to hire someone who could potentially badmouth you in the future?

Focus on candidates who exemplify the positives about their previous boss regardless of it was an extremely tough position where unrealistic expectations were set. You ultimately want to hire someone with a positive attitude, not someone who could potentially demotivate your team by badmouthing you in the future. There are many great interview questions but above are my 3 personal favourites which help get behind facades and potentially reveal the true personality and achievements of someone who seeks to join your organisation.

Want to Hire Great People?

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“by Liz Ryan, https://www.linkedin.com”

If you can make one shift in your thinking, you can hire great people whenever you want to. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Here’s the shift:

You have to give up the idea that as a recruiter or a hiring manager, you’re in charge. You have to drop the idea that you’re the only person in the interview room with a decision to make.

You have to be willing to stop treating a job-seeker like a supplicant, or someone who’s expected to sit in the chair and answer questions like a fourth-grader taking an oral exam. You have to stop expecting job applicants to impress you.

You have to be human and work a little harder than you do in your interviews right now. You have to be just as willing to sell people on your company as you are willing to let them sell you on themselves.

That’s all you have to do!

I ran HR for U.S. Robotics as we grew from 106 employees to ten thousand employees and we never had a hard time recruiting. Recruiting is the easiest part of the HR function, by a mile.

When the energy is good in your company, people want to work for you. You don’t have to run job ads. You don’t have to beat the bushes to find candidates. They show up at your door!

Then you have to treat them like gold, whether you hire them or not.

And one other thing — you can’t ask them stupid, insulting interview questions!

A good interview is a conversation exactly like a conversation you’d have at a coffee shop when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

“I want you to hear about you!”

“No, you go first!”

“Okay! Well, I’m the HR Manager here. My job is to make this place an awesome place to work. What can I tell you about the company?”

“Can you tell me about the products you’re working on?”’

“For sure! Here’s the story….”

If you assume that the people you’re interviewing for your open positions are smart and capable people — and why would you interview anyone else? — then you’re going to want to help them see why you’re excited about the company yourself. 

You’re not going to sell them by running down your employee benefit plans – or worse, by quizzing them about every blip and deviation on their resume or asking them how long they’ve been using Excel.

You’re going to sell them on the organization by asking them what they care about and really listening to their answers, and then responding the way any good salesperson would.

You’re going to sell them on your company by being casual and friendly with them and letting them see that that’s what it will be like if they come and work with you.

They’ll be working hard, but they’ll be working among friends. Everybody will be pulling together. Everybody will have their back.

You’ll have to open the vault and tell them why you love your job — meaning you have to love your job. What’s the first rule of successful selling, again?

The first rule of selling is that you have to believe in the product. That goes double for anybody who’s interviewing job candidates!

When you’re excited about your job, you’ll be an evangelist for your organization.

If you can’t get it up to evangelize for your company, why in God’s name are you working there — much  less in a recruiting capacity?

Real people respond to down-to-earth conversation, and guess what? You don’t have to ask your candidates a single question. Asking questions on a job interview is unnecessary and can only interrupt the flow of conversation.

If you don’t know how to start and maintain a human conversation, you shouldn’t be interviewing people in the first place.

If you need a script to get through a 45-minute conversation, you’re not an appropriate ambassador for your organization.

A job interview is not supposed to be an interrogation. Most of us have grown up with the idea that the interviewer asks questions and the job-seeker answers them, but that’s an Industrial Revolution holdover. It’s a tired paradigm that’s gone way past its expiration date and it smells.

Get rid of it, and relax into the idea that you’ll learn everything you need to know about a person by chatting with them about themselves and about you and the role and who knows what — wherever the conversation takes you.

Insulting interview questions like “What’s your greatest weakness?” and “With so many talented candidates, why should we hire you?” will kill any good energy you’ve managed to create between you and the applicant sitting with you.

Those idiotic questions can only reinforce the talent-repelling idea “Your job is to impress me — so get busy!”

If you want to hire the sheepiest and most desperate people, folks who will hate you for treating them like dirt and eventually hate themselves for taking the job, then by all means keep asking job-seekers “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “If you were a can of soup, what kind of soup would you be?”

If your organization has a mission and you want to build a great team to carry out the mission, you have to step out of the Weenie Zone and be a human being in every job interview. You have to drop the fear that somebody might not recognize you as a powerful decision-maker.

You have to treat every interview as a meeting of equals. Nobody has the upper hand.

Do you go on dates assuming that the people you’re dating have to meet your requirements? Would you ask a date “What’s your greatest weakness?”

If you would, you are sick and need help. You have dominance issues that spring from anger and fear. Why should it work any differently in the business world?

You can tell jokes and laugh and have fun on a job interview. I spent way too many hours meeting job candidates not to have some fun in the process!

Recruiting that is fast and fun and human is not only more effective and more profitable for your organization, but it also sends the message far and wide “This company understands talent!”

Without that message resonating loud and proud out in the talent marketplace, you’ve got no shot at hiring the best people to join your team.

With it, you’re golden. Can you evolve out of the Weenie Zone and start treating every job interview like the pleasant, human getting-to-know-you exercise it’s always been, here in the Human Workplace?

 Questions and Answers

 

 Is it really possible to interview a candidate without asking  any questions?

It’s not only possible, it’s easy, fun and far superior to the 19th-century scripted-interview approach. You’ll ask questions that arise in the course of the conversation, but not scripted, awful interview questions.

You certainly won’t ask a question, listen to the answer and then ask another question. That’s beneath you!

 

 

 

How Do You Know Whether You Are Being Engaging At Interview?

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“By Sophie, Career Management, More-Insight.co.uk”

In some ways, attending an interview is like a first date: two potentially interested parties meeting for the first time to see if there is a spark, a connection which warrants further exploration! Arguably, an interview is more like speed-dating – more likely to be conducted under pressure in a limited time frame rather than over a lingering 3 course meal. Like mobile phones and Facebook (!), speed dating didn’t exist when I was young, free and single so I have limited experience of this phenomena however I know of one marriage at least which has resulted from it. When it comes to interviewing, you have a very short amount of time to win over your audience. It is no cliché to say that first impressions count (we have written about this here) . Getting things off to a positive start is crucial – some people may make their minds up about you instantly and so the rest of the interview will either be spent reinforcing their positive first impression or doing everything you can to turn them around! But how do you know how it’s going? What indicators should you be looking for to ascertain whether you are being engaging? Body Language We all know the classic negative body language indicator of folded arms. Likewise, crossed legs, sitting back in their chair, fidgeting, looking around the room or checking the time may all be a sign that your interviewer is losing interest. Positive indicators are: leaning towards you, ‘open’ body language (arms and shoulders relaxed), taking notes. From the first handshake, your interviewer’s body will be giving you clues about their level of engagement. Don’t be alarmed if you pick up on some of these negative indicators early on in the interview – it may not be about you. They may have just finished a meeting or a discussion with their boss, they may be thinking about a deadline they have to meet later in the day. Your job is to get their attention and make them glad they spent an hour with you! Eye Contact Put simply, if someone likes you, they look you in the eye. To clarify, a continuous hard stare may be an indicator that they are unimpressed however, if your interviewer looks you in the eye regularly and it feels naturally part of the conversation, then chances are they are engaged with what you are saying. Active Listening There is an art to listening well. You have to show someone that you are listening and when someone is engaged with what you are saying, they will do this subconsciously. Nodding, responding to what you are saying with facial expressions or an encouraging “hmm” and reflecting your words are useful indicators. When someone is actively listening you will feel that you are being heard. Smiling A smile is often faked but if this is the case, it will be glaringly obvious. A genuine smile however will make you feel encouraged and will help you relax. If your interviewer is smiling, they will be enjoying the interview and hopefully thinking ‘great, I have found someone I would like to work with’! Rapport Call this rapport or chemistry – it is almost impossible to define but we all recognise it when we experience it with someone. In an interview situation, this may be something as simple as using the same phrases/language or laughing at the same thing. It is usually more obvious when discussing your interests outside work when there is more chance of finding shared experiences. If your interviewer opens up about their own personal life – talking about their family for instance, this is a good indicator that rapport has been established. Closing the deal We have all been interviewed by someone with a poker face who is impossible to read. I have taken feedback from candidates so many times when they say that their interviewer ‘gave nothing away’ and this is a proven technique for some interviewers. However, you will often find that if it has gone very well, the interviewer will not be able to help themselves! They may give some definitive feedback or make it clear that you will be invited back for the next stage. In some cases, they will get so carried away that they will make an offer there and then – be wary if this happens and, while being suitably grateful and pleased, suggest that you need to discuss with your family and will give them an answer asap. Chances are, your gut reaction will let you know whether it has gone well however, take heed – I know of one candidate many years ago who was so pleased with how their interview went, they hugged the interviewer on their way out! Probably wise to keep Public Displays of Affection out of the interview process…

Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

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By Bob Morris, Blogging on Business Author

Karl Ronn is the managing director of Innovation Portfolio Partners. Based in Palo Alto, he helps Fortune 500 companies create new businesses or helps entrepreneurs start category creating new companies. He is a co-founder of VC-backed Butterfly Health that sells Butterfly body liners nationally. He is also developing a software company building diagnostic competency for physicians using virtual human simulations of top medical school cases.

Previously, he was vice president of Research and Development and general manager of New Business for Procter & Gamble, where he was one of the key innovators behind Febreze, Swiffer, and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. In addition to these brands he was responsible for the Global R&D for Pharmaceuticals and Over-the-Counter Health Care including Actonel, Vicks, Prilosec, and In-home Diagnostic Tests. He has also managed Beauty Care businesses and started Diaper and Maxipad businesses across Latin America.

He is on the advisory boards of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Toledo. He is a member of TED conference and has been a speaker at the Mayo Clinic, Consumer Medical Conference, AMA and other innovation forums. He is the co-author with Bob Johansen of The Reciprocity Advantage: A New Way to Partner for Innovation and Growth, published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2014).

* * *

Morris: Before discussing The Reciprocity Advantage, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Ronn: I have about 10 people who are my personal sounding board to help me. They are family, friends, business leaders, and academics. I use them to make sure I’m growing, to respond to ideas, and to challenge me. This helps me decide where to spend my time.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Ronn: I’ve had multiple turning points. While in college I was an intern on the executive floor and learned that senior management needed proposals to strengthen their ideas; they didn’t have all the answers. Then when studying finance part-time I realized that R&D risk could be managed by applying the tools used in finance leading me to develop the risk classifications discussed in Chapter 9. Lastly, by asking people who had known me for many years I was able to determine that my most valuable role was as an Angel, the person who plays a nurturing role between inventors and senior management, to nurture different in kind ideas through the “valley of death.” This role was part of what I did at P&G and is what I now do full time.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Ronn: My engineering degree taught me to be a problem solver and how to learn new fields of science rapidly. Later I studied finance to learn how companies really made decisions so I could build better rationales for funding new developments. While I was studying capital asset pricing models and modern portfolio theory I realized that nobody had created the equivalent of stocks and bonds for the different types of R&D investments. One would never compare a stock to a bond. Instead we balance a portfolio. Yet companies pick favorite projects and compare incremental projects to new business developments. To achieve consistent growth I needed to determine what an R&D portfolio’s structure needed to be. Chapter 9 of this book reflects the solution to that problem. The 3×3 matrix shows the distinct types of R&D investments and discusses how to balance them to achieve consistent topline growth.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you went to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Ronn: I was fortunate that my engineering internship happened to be on the executive floor of a power company, Toledo Edison. First hand experience taught me that Senior Management wanted me to help them create better answers. The worst case would be they would just say no, the best case was they would change their plans. I was also there when Three Mile Island happened (to another company). We had a sister plant of the same design. So, I was inside of a major breaking story and I could see “the fog of war” requiring agile decision making with incomplete information. So, when I started work at Procter & Gamble after college this gave me the courage to propose new approaches and shape projects even as a new hire.

Morris: From which books have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Ronn: I’ve been lucky to meet and work with many of the key thinkers on innovation. Their books are good, but the discussions have been more critical. Clayton Christensen, Dick Foster, Scott Anthony, Tim Brown, David and Tom Kelley, Roger Martin, Mark Fuller, Douglas Englebart, John Kotter, Ted Levitt, Nicholas Negroponte, Neil Gershenfeld, Rosalind Picard, Rita McGrath. If you choose to read their books, read their first book which will show their initial insights and their latest to see how that has changed.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Ronn: Be a servant leader. Empathy is the key skill. Listen for a problem and then help the person with the problem create a solution. We have a mythology of single people who made a difference. Each of us has a role to play. Be a key member of the team and lead when it is your time to lead and follow the rest of the time.

Morris: From Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Ronn: I’m not this cynical. You don’t need to worry about people stealing ideas that are big because they are too hard to solve alone. In Silicon Valley new ideas are discussed in coffee shops without any privacy. If the people at the next table can solve the problem, you should partner with them. The problem is that most ideas are small. Those require protection because being first is their only advantage, and a short-term one.

Morris: From Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

Ronn: Sustaining growth requires three types of innovation – leading today, obsoleting yourself, and creating new to the world growth. I use the analogy of being in three industries: Railroads, Transportation and Communication. We get so busy running the railroads that we can’t see trucks and airplanes as competitors. Then when the telegraph company comes and wants to use our right-of-way for a new communications business we say that communicating is not as good as being there. All ideas are filtered against the screen of defending the current business.

Morris: From Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s odd….’”

Ronn: If you run an experiment and the point falls on the line, you didn’t need to run the experiment. If the point falls off the line, there are two possibilities: you made an error, or you found something new. Don’t over fit the data.

Morris: From Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Ronn: Edison was the founder of modern R&D labs. He practiced what we would call rapid prototyping. He knew what he was looking for and set a wide net to find leads and then had teams working to test and refine leads. So, Edison could have said this having been frustrated by those who didn’t experiment. Experimenting to learn is the third part of our model for reciprocity. Good ideas need to be turned into hundreds or thousands of good, cheap experiments. This is the only way to tackle a tough problem.

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Ronn: I prefer Einstein’s observation: “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” To tackle disruption you can’t do it alone. This is why we suggest reciprocity as a strategy for embracing disruption by partnering with others to lead in a way that you alone could never do. Most companies are too internally focused and small changes look like big changes with this weak lens, so growth stagnates. Get partners who eagerly embrace big changes.

Morris: In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls, he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics]. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” What do you think?

Ronn: True, but this doesn’t provide much guidance. True leaders know they can’t do it alone. The popular culture likes to find a single individual to reward. This is why we should pay less attention to the latest billionaire who got lucky with one idea. Pay much more attention to serial entrepreneur. Pay somewhat less attention to startups and more attention to 20-year old companies who have grown beyond scaling their one lucky idea.

Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather ‘Which [mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?’” Your response?

Ronn: The difference between established business and new businesses is their knowledge to assumption ratio (Anthony and McGrath). Existing businesses have few assumptions. So they can confidently move forward using tried and true formulas. When these companies make mistakes it is a failure – they should know better. New businesses have little knowledge and many assumptions. They must quickly test the assumptions that are most likely to hurt them if they are wrong. We discuss this in Chapter 11. A business will be successful if the product or service they are offering is desirable – someone wants it; viable – we know how to make money providing it; and ownable – we know why we will be able to win when the market is developed (Chapter 12). Work on the assumptions that are most likely to kill you and where you know the least instead of improving the stuff that you know the most about.

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?

Ronn: I don’t see a problem of failure to delegate from good C-level executives. Rather I see they delegate the tough problems that should be their work. The CEO should have Presidents or other managers who can run the current business. While they must maintain responsibility for the company’s day-to-day performance, they need to have their own work creating the future of the company. Asking low level teams to come up with things that will change the shape of the business will fail. These teams need to report directly to the CEO and require direct involvement monthly to listen and shape the projects.

Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?

Ronn: I used to joke with my sales counterparts at P&G that I was in the same business that they were. Sales people sell things that work and R&D people sell things that don’t. Billion-dollar businesses do something new and have a story about how that will change the world. The story makes the future tangible, inspires the team, and eventually can be communicated to users and changes the world. The invention made it possible but the story made it so.

Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Here’s my question: How best to avoid or overcome such resistance?

Ronn: Growth is not an innovation problem, it’s a leadership problem. We would never forgive a CEO for not penetrating cost structures and sales figures and missing their financial forecasts. At the same time we allow senior leaders to behave as if innovation is random, a black box, left to others. The decades of work by Christensen and others shows us that innovation is not a black box. If a company has a growth problem, it is the CEO’s job to squeeze that core business and reinvest in the new leads can generate large new sources of growth – the gamechangers – and then personally nurture those. We need to demand more accountability for lack of topline growth.

Morris: In recent years, there has been criticism, sometimes severe criticism of M.B.A. programs, even those offered by the most prestigious business schools. In your opinion, in which area is there the greatest need for immediate improvement? Any suggestions?

Ronn: Clayton Christensen just wrote an excellent article, “The Capitalist’s Dilemma,” on this in the June 2014 HBR. The problem is that the measures we are using (NPV for example) were developed at a time when capital was scarce. It is not scarce today. It is sitting on the sidelines. We are using the wrong measures to evaluate projects. I reference options analysis as one tool. Net, the business schools need to change, but we can’t wait that long. Each of the three different kinds of innovation (Chapter 9) needs its own measure. NPV works for the current business, but not the others. Companies need to adopt appropriate measures now; business schools can follow.

Morris: Looking ahead (let’s say) 3-5 years, what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face? Any advice?

Ronn: Protect 10-15% of your innovation dollars and invest them in the experiments needed to protect your company from becoming obsolete and to create the new reciprocity advantage businesses that are the new sources of growth. Companies spend about 2% of Sales on innovation. This 0.2-0.3% of sales is the insurance for the future. It must be protected from the core business.

How to Get Management Experience When You’re not a Manager

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by Dan McCarthy, courtesy of management.about.com

Help wanted: Manager. 5-10 years of experience required. Proven track record of effective management.

It’s hard to land a management position when you don’t have the title “manager” on your resume, or be able to provide specific examples of your management experience.

So what’s an aspiring manager to do without holding formal management positions? Plenty! If you are interested in becoming a manager, then here are 5 ways to get management experience without being a manager:

1. Lead a project. The skills required to be an effective project manager are very similar to the skills required to be an effective manager: planning, organizing, setting goals, managing budgets, leading people, and juggling multiple priorities. If you have never managed a project before, then start by volunteering for project teams. It doesn’t have to be a huge project – start small – perhaps volunteering to be a part of the office Thanksgiving food basket drive.  Hopefully, you’ll get to see what a good project manager does. Or, watch what an ineffective project manager does and do the opposite. Then, once you’ve established yourself as a dependable team member, step up and volunteer to lead a project.

Take a course in project management, read a good book on the topic, and interview successful project managers. You can even get certified as a project manager, but that may be overkill, unless you are planning to make a career out of project management.

2. Train, teach, coach, and mentor. A big part of being an effective manager is developing your team. In order to do that, a manager needs to know how to onboard and train new employees, coach experienced employees, and eventually mentor employees.

Of course, in order to be considered for an opportunity to train new employees, it’s a given that you’d need to be very good at your job, or whatever it is that you’re teaching. But beyond being good at something, it’s important to learn and practice the skills of training, coaching, and mentoring. The best way to learn is by doing! Volunteer to develop a training program; volunteer to mentor underprivileged kids or coach a sports team. Learn the art of coaching – learn to ask great questions.

3. Hone your interviewing skills. Many organizations use selection committees, hiring teams, or will involve others when interviewing job candidates. Again, volunteer for these opportunities. However, don’t just “wing it” when it’s your turn to interview a candidate. Develop a list of great interview questions, practice active listening and asking probing follow-up questions, and learn how to establish a rapport quickly. Being able to screen, interview, and select great employees is an essential management skill and can be learned and practiced! For more on how to interview, I’d highly recommend my colleague Alison Doyle’s About.com Job Search site – it’s the best there is.

4. Learn to manage conflict, have a “crucial conversation”, and give feedback. Yes, dealing with those sticky “people issues” is the most challenging part of a manager’s job. We all face challenging people issues – with our co-workers, family members, and friends. Life is “target rich” when it comes to opportunities to resolve conflict. Learn to do it in a positive, constructive way. See:

How to Manage Workplace Conflict

A Proactive Approach to Tough Feedback

How to Hold a Difficult Conversation

I’d recommend reading the book Crucial Conversations and look for opportunities to practice and get good at it.

Being able to provide specific examples of when you were able to handle a conflict, provide difficult feedback, or address a sensitive issue will demonstrate that you have the willingness and capability to handle the “people” aspect of a management position. And believe me, there are plenty of experienced managers that won’t or can’t deal with people issues, so it really will set you apart.

5. Create and manage a budget. As a manager, I would love it if one of my employees volunteered to create and manage a budget for me! While some managers enjoy the number crunching aspect of management, it’s my least favorite part. If you’re good at Excel, you can learn to create and manage a budget. A good place to start is with your home budget.

If you can’t convince your boss to let go of the budgeting responsibility, you can still do what you can do learn finance, budgeting, and accounting. Take a course, learn to do a cost-benefit analysis and ROI, and learn to speak like a bean-counter. See A Finance and Accounting Glossary for the Non-Financial Manager.

There are a lot of more skills you can learn to prepare you to be a manager, including presentation skills, communication skills, leading change, and strategic thinking. However, it’s important to be able to talk about what you have done, not what you could do. The suggestions listed above will give you that practical management experience needed to help land your first management position.

60 Plus Interview Questions People Said Were Their Favorites

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A recent contest for people to submit their favorite interview questions yielded the interesting, the odd, the useful, the insightful, and the obscene.

They included such questions as: “What is your favorite palindrome?” and “Why did America stop selling War Bonds?”

And, there are some I can’t publish without washing my own mouth out with soap. 

A contest about questions

The contest, put on by VoiceGlance, ran in a 10-week period from May into July. Most of the answers came in via LinkedIn groups, and were sent in by HR managers, recruiters, and some job seekers in the U.S., India, China, Nepal, Malta, the UK, and Canada.

Here are the questions turned in, and at the end of this post, some of the questions the judge — me — selected as winners.

(I generally tried to pick questions that were related to actual success on the job. Suffice it say, I didn’t pick any questions about your favorite barnyard animal, and I didn’t pick the one about “what does family mean to you?”)

The questions submitted

Give an example of a situation where you had a conflict with a coworker, and how did you handle it?
How would you define servant leadership?

  1. In 50 words or fewer, describe what skills and knowledge you can bring to our team.
  2. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
  3. Humans do make mistakes. Please share with us a time where you have made a mistake which had a significant impact to the company/your team, what mistake was that, and what remedy action you took.
  4. Describe for me some safe work practices you’ve learned from previous employers and how you rate your overall safety record.
  5. How do you motivate others?
  6. In a team environment, what role do you usually take on?
  7. How do you handle criticism?
  8. What is your philosophy towards your work?
  9. If you had to compare how you take decisions, to which animal do you think you would be most similar and why?
  10. If you have a say in the decision taken by management and (say) if you are quite against theirs, will you stick on with your decision?
  11. How would your best friend describe you?
  12. What best a company can do for their employees so its turnover ratio can be maintained?
  13. What three things do you need to be successful in this job? What are deal killers for you?
  14. If I were to talk to one of your previous supervisors, what might they recommend as an area of improvement for you?
  15. What are your long-term motivations in a company or a position?
  16. Tell me about a time you did the right thing at work and no one saw you do it.
  17. Ideal for salespeople — present them with a brick and say “you have three minutes to sell me this brick.”
  18. What do you do when your client says “no” but doesn’t really mean “no”; he only means “tell me more and break down the issues?”
  19. What do you worry about, and why?
  20. How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
  21. What was a situation you handled poorly in the past and how would you handle it in the future?
  22. What do colleagues say is your best quality?
  23. If you were left in the woods with only the items in this room, what would you build?
  24. Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?
  25. What is your favorite palindrome?
  26. Why did our government stop selling War Bonds? It seemed like a great idea for many reasons.
  27. Which of the two animals would you say you are most like — a sheep or a wolf — and why?
  28. What does family mean to you?
  29. If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
  30. What are the titles of the last three books you have read? Tell me how you related to one of the characters.
  31. Tell us about yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
  32. Why do you want to change your job and work with our company?
  33. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  34. Tell us something about our company; how it is better than your present working company?
  35. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
  36. What qualities should a team leader have?
  37. What changes would you make if you are selected and you come on board?
  38. How do you feel about reporting to a boss younger than you or if she is a lady boss?
  39. How do you define success and how do you measure it?
  40. Can you work in critical situations with work pressure?
  41. First ask, “If I went to your last boss and ask them to tell me about you, what would they say?” Then follow it with “Now, if I went to your best friend and asked them to tell me about you — personally, not professionally — what would they say?”
  42. Would you rather be liked or respected?
  43. If your boss asked you to jump, would you ask how high? Or, would you ask, why do you want me to jump?
  44. Tell me something you have never told anyone else.
  45. Tell me about the biggest mistake you ever made at work and what did you do about it?
  46. If you could be any animal on a carousel, what would you be, and why?
  47. Typically you are asked to tell about an accomplishment you are most proud of during your career. I would like you to talk about an error/mistake you made and how you went about resolving it.
  48. Tell me something you have done that goes against all social conventions, yet you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do!
  49. How do you evaluate success?
  50. If you were I, would you hire a person like you, and why?
  51. What were some of the first impressions you got from walking into and waiting for a few minutes in our (organization/newsroom/business)?
  52. Describe for me your most ideal work environment.

Some of the winners

OK, now here are some of the winning questions. Remember that the judge — me — had to choose the best given any particular week. Some weeks there was a great question, and others I was picking the best of a bad bunch.

  • Can you tell me about a situation that was difficult and you were able to overcome it?
  • What’s the worst thing about your current job and what’s the best?
  • What would you like to change (positively) in our organization, and how would you do that?
  • Explain how you will add value to our company if hired.
  • What one skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?
  • What did you love best about your last full-time position?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Communication is important within every organization. Thinking about your style of communication, how will you use it to ensure you are communicating effectively with your team, and what suggestions would you offer your teammates on communicating with you?
Todd Raphael is Editor-in-Chief of ERE.net , and he works on ERE’s conferences, the ERE website, the ERE daily email newsletter, the ERE awards, and more. Contact him at todd@ere.net.

Present with Confidence: Avoid these Question and Answer Mistakes

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By Marta Steele, Marta Steele Partner and Community Manager at PeopleResults

In all of your communications, you want to come across polished, in control and confident.

The flow, content and visuals of your message matter.

But how you manage questions and answers also matters. A lot.

All the gains you’ve made from your smooth effortless presentation go straight down the toilet if you can’t manage questions and answers properly.

Avoid These Common Q&A Pitfalls

  1. You didn’t prepare.

You can and should prepare for Q and A, as much as you prepare for the other parts of your presentation. Ask yourself who will be sitting in the room, what they know about your topic and the questions most likely to arise. I bet you can anticipate 75% of what your audience will ask. Then practice stating your answer out loud.

  1. You didn’t repeat the question.

Whether you’re answering to a small group of people or a large auditorium, always repeat the question for these three reasons:

a)    Paraphrasing, repeating or clarifying the question back to the questioner ensures you heard it correctly and answer the question they asked.

b)    It ensures that the rest of the audience hears the question.

c)    You gain a little extra time to think of an answer.

  1. You only responded to the person who asked the question.

As you articulate your answer, take your eyes off the questioner, and give eye contact to the entire room. Otherwise you look like you’re in a 1:1 conversation with the questioner, which is a subtle way of excluding the rest of the audience. Your eye contact is an important tool to keep everyone engaged, so use those eyes.

  1. Your answer is way too long.

Be brief. State your answer by tying back to the key message of your presentation. Give an example and move on. Your audience will appreciate a concise answer and at the same time you will sound credible and in control.

  1. You allowed the questioner to go on too long.

Often someone has a question but can’t quite spit it out. Or they don’t really have a question, it’s more of a long-winded comment. Or someone wants the chance to show their expertise and talk about his/her experience.

Don’t let your audience hijack the Q&A. It’s your job as the presenter to politely interrupt, attempt to paraphrase what they’re saying into a question, provide an answer and move on. Your audience will secretly thank you for it.

  1. You keep judging the questions.

When you remark, “Great question!”  or “Excellent question!” you may think you sound encouraging and positive, but stating this after every question comes across as insincere. Yet saying “good question” after some questions and not others may leave audience members who don’t receive a pat on the head wondering “Hey, isn’t my question a good question too?”.

I recommend saying nothing after each question. Instead, after the question and answer period, you can show your appreciation with a broad, “Thank you, everyone, for your great questions.”

  1. You faked an answer.

Often we don’t know the answer to a question. That is perfectly ok. If you’re not sure, don’t fake it. The audience sees right through you. Tell your audience you don’t know, that you don’t want to give false information, but here’s what you do know …

If you are able to find an answer and follow-up with the questioner, do so. But don’t say “Let me get back to you on that” if you have no intention of ever following up.

  1. You ended the presentation with a question and answer.

Boring. Don’t let the Q&A be the last thing people hear or remember.

Watch the clock, warn the audience (i.e. “I’m mindful of the time. Let’s take 2 more questions”) and leave a few minutes after the Q&A to summarize, tie back to your main message and end with a bang. Make sure YOU have the last memorable word.

If you notice many more people still have questions, tell your audience to find and ask you questions after the presentation or meeting.

As if getting up in front of people and presenting isn’t nerve-racking enough, gracefully handling questions from your audience tests the most confident presenters.

With a little preparation and practice, your Q&A will be just as smooth and solid as the rest of your presentation.

Avoid These Common Q&A Pitfalls

  1. You didn’t prepare.

You can and should prepare for Q and A, as much as you prepare for the other parts of your presentation. Ask yourself who will be sitting in the room, what they know about your topic and the questions most likely to arise. I bet you can anticipate 75% of what your audience will ask. Then practice stating your answer out loud.

  1. You didn’t repeat the question.

Whether you’re answering to a small group of people or a large auditorium, always repeat the question for these three reasons:

a)    Paraphrasing, repeating or clarifying the question back to the questioner ensures you heard it correctly and answer the question they asked.

b)    It ensures that the rest of the audience hears the question.

c)    You gain a little extra time to think of an answer.

  1. You only responded to the person who asked the question.

As you articulate your answer, take your eyes off the questioner, and give eye contact to the entire room. Otherwise you look like you’re in a 1:1 conversation with the questioner, which is a subtle way of excluding the rest of the audience. Your eye contact is an important tool to keep everyone engaged, so use those eyes.

  1. Your answer is way too long.

Be brief. State your answer by tying back to the key message of your presentation. Give an example and move on. Your audience will appreciate a concise answer and at the same time you will sound credible and in control.

  1. You allowed the questioner to go on too long.

Often someone has a question but can’t quite spit it out. Or they don’t really have a question, it’s more of a long-winded comment. Or someone wants the chance to show their expertise and talk about his/her experience.

Don’t let your audience hijack the Q&A. It’s your job as the presenter to politely interrupt, attempt to paraphrase what they’re saying into a question, provide an answer and move on. Your audience will secretly thank you for it.

  1. You keep judging the questions.

When you remark, “Great question!”  or “Excellent question!” you may think you sound encouraging and positive, but stating this after every question comes across as insincere. Yet saying “good question” after some questions and not others may leave audience members who don’t receive a pat on the head wondering “Hey, isn’t my question a good question too?”.

I recommend saying nothing after each question. Instead, after the question and answer period, you can show your appreciation with a broad, “Thank you, everyone, for your great questions.”

  1. You faked an answer.

Often we don’t know the answer to a question. That is perfectly ok. If you’re not sure, don’t fake it. The audience sees right through you. Tell your audience you don’t know, that you don’t want to give false information, but here’s what you do know …

If you are able to find an answer and follow-up with the questioner, do so. But don’t say “Let me get back to you on that” if you have no intention of ever following up.

  1. You ended the presentation with a question and answer.

Boring. Don’t let the Q&A be the last thing people hear or remember.

Watch the clock, warn the audience (i.e. “I’m mindful of the time. Let’s take 2 more questions”) and leave a few minutes after the Q&A to summarize, tie back to your main message and end with a bang. Make sure YOU have the last memorable word.

If you notice many more people still have questions, tell your audience to find and ask you questions after the presentation or meeting.

As if getting up in front of people and presenting isn’t nerve-racking enough, gracefully handling questions from your audience tests the most confident presenters.

With a little preparation and practice, your Q&A will be just as smooth and solid as the rest of your presentation.

What To Say If An Interviewer Asks How Old You Are

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By Jacquelyn Smith, Business Insider Contributor

After answering tough interview questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and, “What’s your biggest weakness?” you’d probably be relieved to hear something easier, like, “How old are you?” 

 

But, this one isn’t as simple as it seems.

In fact, Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” says its discriminatory, and your response can have a significant impact on the outcome of your interview.

There is, of course, a chance the hiring manager is inexperienced and unaware that this question is inappropriate — or that they’re purely curious. But it’s more probable that the interviewer has ulterior motives, she says.

“Some hiring managers discriminate outright against older workers and ask this question to figure out if they’re approaching retirement age,” she explains. “If you’re a younger job seeker, the interviewer may ask your age to figure out just how low of a salary they can get away with offering you.”

Divulging your age may or may not hurt you directly — but why give a flat-out answer and risk it when you have every right to be vague?

Taylor offers six examples of responses you could give to the discriminatory, “How old are you?” interview question without coming off as combative and hurting your chances of securing the job:

1. “I’ve been in the workforce for a number of years, but I also plan to work for many more — and hopefully that includes this company. I’ve been fortunate to work at companies where age diversity is viewed as a plus. It that also your approach here?” 

2. “I received my degree many years ago. I returned to college and later finished my degree. Since that time, I’ve gained great experience, but I’m always excited about learning more and contributing in a team environment.”

3. “I certainly have a great deal of experience. Are you asking this for a particular reason that I should be aware of? I want to be in-tune with every job requirement.”

4. “May I ask, are you concerned about how my skill set or education will apply? I think you will find that I’m an asset for the projects you have mentioned/listed. My most recent accomplishment was [xyz], and it will benefit your company because [abc].”

5. “If you’re concerned about my level of experience, I have focused on this specialty area for several years and contributed [xyz] to my former employers. I’d like to expound on some of the projects that specifically relate to this job description — and the excellent results I achieved. Would that be helpful?”

6. “My age hasn’t been an issue in the past. But you should know that I do feel confident in that I can contribute a great deal to your firm with my level of experience and maturity. Perhaps you can tell me more about your concerns so I can understand them more clearly, and better explain how I can meet your needs.”

What do all of these responses have in common? They guide the line of questioning into a more “enlightened” and legal realm by focusing on your skill set and ability to contribute, Taylor says. Don’t get angry. Stay calm and poised.

Also, while responding to this query, note whether your prospective boss retracts the question or realizes its discriminatory nature. “You can view this as an opportunity that will speak volumes as to the integrity of the hiring manager, as well as the firm’s practices and unspoken policies,” she says. In the end, you’ll be glad you turned the conversation back to the interviewer and listened carefully to the follow-up response. 

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