Blog Archives

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue

Conduct Soul-searching Interviews with Outsiders

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue If you are a leader, what is your most important job? As stated by John Kotter, leaders groom organizations for transformation and help them manage as they struggle through it. That is their foremost job. However, how do they go about doing it? Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said: “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”

Evidently, setting a direction for the future is an important aspect of leadership. Telling what the organization should become in the long term and how it should get there becomes the foremost duty. Soon after taking the helm of IBM, Lou Gerstner announced, “The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.” Some people nailed his hide to the wall for that statement. He explains that reporters dropped the words “right now” from his statement. Gerstner felt that IBM was long on vision statements, but short on getting the job done. Fixing the company was all about execution.

Creating a Culture of Leadership

Execution is nothing but aligning people, motivating them, and creating a culture of leadership. Kotter contrasts execution with equally important but managerial duties such as planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving. The value of a wonderful strategy is only achieved when it is carried out. And it is the people who make the grand vision a reality. That’s why, as Jack Welch points out, leaders need to make it a priority to plant and nourish talented people at every level.

If you lead a big organization like General Electric, you might have assets at your disposal like the GE John F. Welch Leadership Center at Crotonville, the world’s first major corporate business school. Here everyone from important customers and partners to present and future GE leaders come together to identify opportunities and debate issues. But few organizations have the resources to invest like GE. They can’t operate a dedicated leadership center.

Creating a Culture of Leadership The constraint of a smaller budget is hardly an excuse to not operate key levers that drive superior performance in people. Going back to Welch’s garden analogy, some aspects of cultivation are free, such as sunshine. But how you choose to orient your garden in relationship to the sun makes all the difference. If you place your garden under a large shade tree, you cut it off from necessary nourishment.

While a leader needs to have a strong sense of the direction, cultivating new culture by changing people’s frame of mind and behaviors is the hardest part. In doing so, they can follow the profit-at-any-price model by relying on fear, pressure, and greed, or they can follow a more sensible leadership model based on inspiration, motivation, and enthusiasm.

Four Bad Leadership Models

Even leaders who articulate a convincing vision, inspire followers, and display passion and courage to take on challenges can have wasteful traits that limit them. These tend to manifest themselves in four ways:

  • Know-it-alls: They start believing that they know and do this better than anybody, and believe that they don’t need others as much as others need them. So they tend to treat others as dispensable and tune them out.
  • Micromanagers: They get mired in minutiae and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. By measuring too much, they measure nothing.
  • Perfectionists: They spend too much time doing things right rather than doing the right things, thereby losing focus. They take any constructive feedback as a direct hit and return what they see as not-so-friendly fire.
  • Detached: They become emotionally distant and lose the intimacy and connection to other people. To any push-back, they respond: “Tough! If I can do it, so can you.”

When these behaviors occur, the results follow quickly: Any constructive confrontation within the executive team ends almost immediately. Honest exchange of ideas on options and their pros and cons ceases. What is happening on the ground to the foot soldiers becomes irrelevant. The pressure people feel becomes unbearable. The “guilt trip” that nobody else is pulling their weight becomes harder to take. Any semblance of work-life balance is lost. Conversations become one-way streets, and people feel like glorified order-takers. It seems like they have ceded all authority to the boss.

The leader is quickly surrounded by loyal sycophants in the inner circle who simply want to ride the coattails. Everyone else is in the outer circle-albeit with more self-esteem, yet fearful to say that the emperor has no clothes. Soon people start telling the leader what the leader wants to hear, lest their heads are chopped off. Collaboration comes to a grinding halt, and providing lip service becomes the politically correct thing to do. Everyone looks out for themselves, and any mutually shared goals, if they exist, take a back seat. Any sense of intimacy, camaraderie, and belonging on the team becomes non-existent.

Any concept of a team breaks down. Any sense of empowerment evaporates. The vision of the leader becomes a pipe dream. The strategic plan to get there suddenly has strong disbelievers. The short-term results, obtained through draconian measures, become harder to sustain. As Michael Maccoby notes: “Narcissistic leaders can self-destruct and lead their people astray.” So, there is plenty of leadership, but little followership.

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future A key challenge for leaders competing for the future is to foster competencies that provide access to tomorrow’s opportunities. Further, as discussed by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad in Competing for the Future, leaders need to find innovative applications of the current competencies. Leaders must objectively assess and proactively improve the caliber of the executive team and the organization as a whole.

However, before a leader can assess the caliber of the executive team, he must take stock of his own. Surveys—whether leadership or 360 degree—are popular and necessary, but rarely tell the leader the whole story. Objective, confidential, and focused interviews by an outsider with each individual on the executive team can deliver unvarnished truth-rich information about what’s really happening behind closed doors. Is there a true strategic alignment? How is the leadership style perceived? How much constructive confrontation occurs? Do people collaborate or simply provide lip service? Is everyone pulling in the same direction?

There are five prerequisites to getting the most from these interviews:

  1. Right reason. First, conduct the interviews for the right reason: improving leadership by eliminating unproductive behaviors. If the hidden agenda is to vilify non-performers or to find scapegoats, the approach backfires.
  2. Objectivity. You need an objective outsider to hold the mirror. This person must not be afraid to find out the truth and tell it like it is.
  3. Confidentiality. The interviews have to be treated as confidential, and the interviewer can’t make any direct attribution to a specific individual. Despite all the talk about openness, blackballing is still a common practice.
  4. Specificity. While recognizing that everyone’s reality is different, the interviews have to focus on direct observations, experiences, and involvement rather than hearsay.
  5. Commitment. There must be a commitment to develop an action plan at the individual and team level.

If these criteria are met, the insights gained from interviews can help create a high-performance culture. The honest feedback and recommendations can raise the candor and constructive dialogue.

Baseball manager Tommy Lasorda said leading people is like holding a dove in your hand. “If you hold it too tightly, you kill it; but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it.” Finding that delicate balance between providing nourishment and pulling weeds is the key to effective leadership. But it begins with looking in the mirror.

Posted in Leaders and Innovators

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Card Trick

An noteworthy anecdote on Susan Decker from ‘Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo’ by Nicholas Carlson:

During her first year in graduate school at Harward Business School, Decker interviewed at a small investment bank called Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Decker hadn’t held a full-time job between college and graduate school, so, on her resume, she listed some of the odd jobs she’d done for money. One of them was “professional magician.” It was a stretch. Decker had once performed for a bunch of six-year-olds and made a little money.

Of course, the DLJ interviewers asked her about her magic skills.

Decker was one of those shy people who force themselves to dive into uncomfortable situations because they know that’s the only way they are going to get what they want out oflife. Decker dove in. She said to her interviewers: “Would you like to see a trick?”

They took the bait. Decker said she had an invisible deck of cards in her pocket. She made a show of taking it out and handed it to one of the interviewers. She said: “Pick a card, any card.”

She said: “What’s the card?”

The interviewer played along, made up a card, and said, “It was the eight of hearts.”

Decker pulled out a real deck of cards from her pocket. She fanned out the cards-only ene was face down. Decker turned it over: the 8 of hearts.

She got the internship.

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Trick Susan Decker most famously became president of Yahoo! Inc. and was passed over many a time for the role of Yahoo’s CEO. During her stint at Yahoo, while reporting to a revolving door of CEOs, she defended Yahoo’s business model. At a keynote for the 2008 Advertising 2.0 New York conference, Decker remarked on the transformation in the advertising industry as well as the opportunities and solutions for advertisers, ad agencies, and publishers. Decker asserted that new advertising products, technologies and platforms will make it more efficient to reach consumers. Decker also talked about the importance of striking the right balance between monetization and the customer experience:

Yahoo! is helping to accelerate the transformation of how display advertising is both bought and sold … First, we are developing the technology, products and platforms that are designed to help advertisers find the right audiences and publishers find the right advertisers. Second, we are partnering with publishers to secure and monetize inventory that advertisers and agencies find desirable. And third, we are partnering with advertisers and agencies to channel demand to the right consumer.

Susan Decker holds independent directorships at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Intel, Costco, and LegalZoom. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner is also on the board of directors at Berkshire Hathaway and Costco. Bill Gates is also on the board at Berkshire Hathaway. His father, William H. Gates Sr., is also on the board at Costco.

Posted in Education and Career

How to Create a Personal Leadership Brand

How to Create a Personal Leadership Brand The pressures of work are constant. In a world of discombobulated messaging, you can communicate with more impact and integrity by engendering a personal leadership brand. Personal branding can increment mindshare among audiences as much as branding for products can increment market share.

What rate of return do your speeches, interviews, and visits with customers and partners generate? What impact do these efforts have on your bottom line? A high Return on Communication means that with every interaction, you meet one or more strategic objectives, deliver clear messages that people understand and remember, and enhance your brand and the company’s brand. Executive branding ensures that the time and money you spend on communication translate into desired business outcomes.

Senior executives often communicate without making much of an impression. Either they don’t say anything memorable, or they are remembered for all the wrong reasons-a bad media quote, poor slides, annoying body language. Worst case: their communication is mistrusted and misinterpreted, achieving exactly the opposite of what they intend. High turnover rates and a paucity of effective leaders suggest either that there’s no correlation between studying leadership and leading or that the scientific approach could benefit from a bit more art.

Personal Branding Building a brand is about creating value for other people. The business reasons for executive branding are pellucid: the CEO’s reputation accounts for about a moiety of the reputation of the company; the CEO’s personal brand impacts employee allegiance and resilience; and a brand is the premium that shareholders are disposed to pay for the stock or the product. No bellwether can leave to chance the way that he or she is perceived.

While many leaders know how to brand companies and products, few know how to brand themselves. Why go to the trouble? Let’s look at what personal branding can do for you:

  • Differentiation: A personal brand differentiates you from others, enabling you to stand out and be memorable.
  • Consistency: A personal brand ensures that you are consistent-reliably the same in situations, which creates trust. People know what to expect of you, and you communicate from the same platform, whether announcing good news or bad news.
  • Clarity: When you have a brand, you stand for something. Your brand leverages the power of clear non-verbal messages, and helps determine the verbal messages you want to convey.
  • Authenticity: Personal branding allows you to speak with authenticity. Your brand communicates who you are. When leaders speak with sincerity, they are much more persuasive than when they speak the party line.

There’s been an increased interest in leadership presence over the last few years, perhaps because simply being present has become one of the chief executive obstacles in our highly distracting 24/7 culture. The spread of highly injuctively authorizing, even invasive, technologies is no doubt partly to inculpate. But many organizational cultures have in effect become toxic, which is a designator of pristinely human failure. If we can’t muster up the presence of mind to recognize this state of affairs, we have little chance of learning better leadership.

Posted in Education and Career Philosophy and Wisdom

Select Leaders by Assessing the Style and Personality Traits of Your Hires

The Personality Traits of Leaders

CEO tenure is becoming shorter and less secure. Half of today’s CEOs have been in the post less than three years.

Why the rise of revolving-door executives? Some reasons have to do with economic uncertainty, but companies also need to look at their recruiting, selection, and development practices. Those in leadership roles often come from the same universities and graduate schools with qualities similar to those of incumbent leaders. High-potential recruits are placed on a fast track to management positions where they tend to perpetuate perspectives of existing leaders. They move through positions at a fast pace, which inhibits them from learning their jobs well and reaping the harvest of seeds they sow.

When hiring or promoting managers, many organizations rely on requisite knowledge, experience, and a track record. However, if they fail to investigate the behavioral characteristics of candidates, they may make a costly mistake. Many executives who have a string of early successes because of their technical genius or problem-solving skills later derail because of poor interpersonal relationships. The failure to build and maintain an effective team proves disastrous.

To pick the right managers, you need to assess the softer qualities of leadership. Those responsible for making people decisions need to know, for example, if the candidate inspires trust, listens well, delegates tasks, and shares praise and credit. These competencies are a function of personality.

Traits Common of Successful Corporate Leaders

While leadership styles vary from person-to-person, in my experience, great executives share a number of common, observable behaviors that support their success. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits.

  • Tolerance for risk and uncertainty: experience with calculating and encouraging appropriate risk
  • High level of empathy: can walk in the shoes of the customer and convey the insights to others
  • Deep expertise in a least one field: the specific area is less important than the rigor and dedication any deep expertise demonstrates
  • Ability to work with varied and complex information
  • Collaborative interpersonal style: avoid big egos, aggressive personalities, and go-it-alone types
  • Passion: clear passion for your customer, your company, and innovation
  • Strong drive for results: desire to take ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace
  • Mature intelligence: ability to make connections and build ideas without needing to be the smartest person in the room

The more companies recognize about leaders— what they truly care about, how they make decisions, why they do what they do—the more effective they will be at organizing the support of others for what they anticipate to accomplish.

Attributes of Star Performers and Effective Managers

The attributes of star performers and effective managers are often personality characteristics–such as reliable, curious, even-tempered. Since people are perceived as leaders to the degree they are trustworthy, forward looking, inspiring, and decisive, the suitability of a candidate for a management job is more than simply a matter of the candidate’s function, experience, or position.

The most crucial factors are personality and behavioral style. Interpersonal skills can be measured cheaply, efficiently, and accurately; however, these skills are shaped early in life. By the time we reach adulthood, they are deeply ingrained. So, companies benefit by focusing their energies on selection rather than development of interpersonal competencies.

Personality Testing in the Workplace: Pros and Cons

Assessing behavioral style is necessary to determine suitability but insufficient. People who interview well may also have less attractive interpersonal behaviors. These self-defeating be-haviors disrupt team performance and derail careers. Since these “dark side” characteristics are hard to detect by interviews and assessments, conduct interviews with former associates. The “what” required for a successful team could include education, time, and communication skills to be able to work effectively without barriers. The most important part of the team building process may actually be the “why” of the project.

Adopting behaviours associated with transformational leadership (such as stimulating followers to engage in complex decision-making and problem-solving) may in the short term lead to increases in the management quality of their followers. In addition, transformational leaders can also have a positive effect on the well-being, motivation and job satisfaction of those they supervise.

Interpersonal Style and Temperament of the Manager

Personality Tests for Hiring

Core values must also be assessed. No matter how talented you may be, if your values are at odds with the culture, you will not fare well. People are happiest working where their core values and goals are compatible with those of the organization.

Personality is pivotal in selecting managers. Compatibility is vital when considering the transfer or promotion of executive talent. The interpersonal style and temperament of the manager must be congruent with the character and needs of the firm. People can be taught certain skills and technologies, but not the traits that turn the use of those technologies into results. If personality and style are out of step with the new situation, nothing can prevent failure. Even the best leaders of the most capable teams promoting well-tested innovations may fail if the context in which the change is to be implemented is not considered. Capable leaders and well-balanced teams must personalize and adapt their approaches to create cultures and contexts where change will flourish.

Posted in Management and Leadership

50 Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

General Questions

  1. Tell me about you!
    • Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble.
    • Use your “positioning statement” (resume summary) as a base to start.
  2. What do you know about our company?
    • Know products, size, income, reputation, image, goals, problems,
      management talent, management style, people, skills, history, and
    • Project an informed interest, let the interviewer tell you about the company, let them define their business in their terms.
  3. Why do you want to work for us?
    • Don’t talk about what you want; first talk about their needs.
    • You wish to be part of a company project.
    • You would like to solve a company problem.
    • You can make a definite contribution to specific company goals: identify its management talent, etc.
  4. What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
    • Relate past experiences which represent success in solving previous
      employer problem(s) which may be similar to those of the prospective
  5. What about our position do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
    • List three or more attractive factors and only one minor unattractive factor.
  6. Why should we hire you?
    • Because of knowledge, experience, abilities, and skills.
  7. What do you look for in a job?
    • An opportunity to use skills, to perform and be recognized.
  8. Please give me your definition of a … (the position for which you are being interviewed).
    • Keep it brief, actions and results oriented
  9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
    • Very quickly after a little orientation and a brief period of adjustment on the learning curve.
  10. How long would you stay with us?
    • As long as we both feel I’m contributing, achieving, growing etc.

Experience and Management Questions

  1. You may be overqualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer.
    • Strong companies need strong people.
    • Experienced executives are at a premium today.
    • Emphasize your interest in a long-term association.
    • The employer will get a faster return on investment because you have more experience than required.
    • A growing, energetic company is rarely unable to use its people talents.
  2. What is your management style?
    • (If you’ve never thought about this, it’s high time you did.) Open
      door is best….but you get the job done on time or inform your
  3. Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?
    • Keep your answer achievement and task oriented, emphasize management
      skills– planning, organizing, controlling, interpersonal, etc.
  4. What did you look for when you hired people?
    • Skills, initiative, adaptability.
  5. Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
    • You have had experience with this and it worked out well.
  6. What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
    • Getting things planned and done on time within the budget.
  7. What do your subordinates think of you?
    • Be honest and positive…they can check your responses easily.
  8. What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
    • Be honest and end on a positive note, e.g. “I have a problem
      reprimanding people so I always begin with something positive first.”

Industry Trends Questions

  1. What important trends do you see in our industry?
    • Keep your answer to two or three trends.

If You Are Leaving A Job

  1. Why are you leaving your present job?
    • Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty.
    • Give a “group” answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated.
  2. How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?
    • Concerned but not panicked.
  3. Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.
    • Where people are treated as fairly as possible.
  4. How would you evaluate your present firm?
    • An excellent company which afforded me many fine experiences.

Quantifying Your Experience, Accomplishments

  1. Have you helped increase sales? Profits? How?
    • Describe in some detail.
  2. Have you helped reduce costs? How?
    • Same as above.
  3. How much money did you ever account for?
    • Be specific.
  4. How many people did you supervise on your last job?
    • Be specific.
  5. Do you like working with figures more than words?
    • Be honest but positive.
  6. In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
    • Same as above
  7. In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
    • You could refer to the key accomplishments already identified on resume.

Job Search Questions

  1. Why haven’t you found a new position before now?
    • Finding a job is easy but finding the right job is more difficult. (You are being “selective”)
  2. Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there?
    • Challenge, but it’s gone now.
  3. What do you think of your boss?
    • Be as positive as you can.
  4. Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticized?
  5. What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?
    • Keep your answer related to this company’s field

Your Work Habits and Style

  1. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
    • Emphasize skills — don’t be overly negative about your weaknesses;
      it’s always safe to identify a lack of a skill or experience as a
      shortcoming rather than a personal characteristic.
  2. Can you work under pressures, deadlines, etc.?
    • Yes. Quite simply, it is a way of life in business.
  3. How have you changed the nature of your job?
    • Improved it…of course.
  4. Do you prefer staff or line work? Why?
    • Depends on the job and its challenges.
  5. In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
    • Keep it brief and don’t brag.
  6. Don’t you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company?
    • Depends on the job — elaborate slightly.
  7. How do you resolve conflict on a project team?
    • First discuss issues privately.
  8. What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
    • Attempt to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.

Salary Questions

  1. How much are you looking for?
    • Answer with a question, i.e., “What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?”
    • If they don’t answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace.
  2. How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you?
    • Be careful; the market value of the job may be the key answer e.g.,
      “My understanding is that a job like the one you’re describing may be in
      the range of $______.”
  3. What kind of salary are you worth?
    • Have a specific figure in mind…don’t be hesitant.

Personality Questions

  1. What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
    • Talk about books, sports or films to represent balance in you life.
  2. How would you describe your own personality?
    • Balanced.
  3. What are your strong points?
    • Present at least three and relate them to the interviewing company and job opening.
  4. What are your weak points?
    • Don’t say you have none.
    • Try not to cite personal characteristics as weaknesses, but be ready to have one if interviewer presses.
    • Turn a negative into a positive answer: “I am sometimes intent on
      completing an assignment and get too deeply involved when we are late.”
Posted in Education and Career

Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Assertiveness

Behavioral Interview Questions: Assertiveness

Assertiveness is the ability to maturely express one’s feelings and opinions in spite of disagreement; accurately communicate to others regardless of their status or position.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Some of the best business ideas come from an individual’s ability to challenge others’ ways of thinking in a mature way. Tell me about a time when you were successful in challenging others’ ideas. What does this say about your ability to be assertive?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate honestly, persistently, and tactfully challenge the other person’s idea? Was there aggression/anger/abuse or withdrawal/dependency/ submissiveness?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “It is realistic to say that no job is completely free of conflict. Tell me about a time when you were able to express your opinions maturely in spite of disagreements or objections.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate directly state an opinion without having been abusive/harsh/apologetic/defensive? Was there an emotional expression of an opinion or failure to express an opinion to avoid conflict?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Some situations require us to express ideas/opinions in a very tactful and careful way. Tell me about a time when you were successful with this particular skill.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate communicate with clarity and directness, and without evidence of negative feelings? Was there evidence or expression of negative feelings such as aggression or withdrawal, which interfered with effective communication?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Describe a time when you had to sell an idea to your boss, authority figure, or technical expert.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an honest, well-planned presentation including benefit statements, responses to objections, and guidance to a decision? Was there dislike for selling an idea, dishonesty/distortion, and/or either withdrawal/passivity or bragging/pressure?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Describe a time when you communicated something unpleasant or difficult to say to your manager or work team. How did you assert yourself?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate accurately and tactfully express a fact/opinion on a sensitive/important issue? Was there avoidance of an issue, passive aggression, and/or an aggressive/tactless presentation?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Give me an example of a time when you had to be assertive in giving directions to others.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate give firm, clear direction, perhaps with concern for another’s feelings? Was there an emotional reaction such as anger or anxiety?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Tell me about a time when your job required you to say, maturely, how you really felt about a situation. What did you say and how did you say it?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate present a feeling honestly and tactfully? Was there a negative feeling such as anger/ fear/anxiety/depression that interfered with mature communications?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Sometimes it is important to disagree with others, particularly your boss or team members, in order to keep a mistake from being made. Tell me about a time when you were willing to disagree with another person in order to build a positive outcome.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate disagree tactfully and in a timely fashion, balancing the need to communicate an opinion/ information with respect? Was there avoidance of disagreement or a tactless presentation?
Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Team Work

Behavioral Interview Questions: Team Work

Team Work is the ability to share due credit with coworkers; display enthusiasm and promote a friendly group working environment.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Helping a team organize itself to get results is often a difficult thing to do. Tell me about a time when you had your greatest success in helping organize a team. What specific results were accomplished by the team?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate help create a common goal/vision, and/or use a feedback/reward system, to coalesce a team? Were there an absence of team activity and/or use of pressure to achieve results?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “The term ‘participative management’ has been used for years to describe a technique of building a team spirit by collecting suggestions from others. Describe a time when you used suggestions to build team commitment.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate commit to productive participation by such things as asking meaningful questions, defining group authority and/or provision of adequate resources/time? Was there inexperience with, or rejection of, participative decision-making?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “It is sometimes important to deal with a negative attitude to build team motivation. Give me an example of a time when you confronted a negative attitude successfully with the result of building teamwork and morale.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate recognize a negative attitude in himself/herself or another person, have insight into its causes, and take constructive corrective action? Ws there a reaction to an attitude problem with little evidence for productive action?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “We cannot do everything ourselves. Give me an example of a time when you dealt with this reality by creating a special team effort. Highlight the special aspects of the situation which best demonstrate your skill in this area.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate use participative decision-making, goal setting, and/or constructive confrontation to build commitment to perform separate tasks in an integrated/productive way? Was there a directive/autocratic style in establishing team roles and supervising performance?
Posted in Education and Career

Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Perseverance and Commitment to Task

Behavioral Interview Questions: Perseverance and Commitment to Task

Perseverance and commitment to task is the ability to start and persist with specific courses of action while exhibiting high motivation and a sense of urgency; willing to commit to long hours of work and make personal sacrifice in order to reach goals.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “We all have to make decisions on the job about the delicate balance between personal and work objectives. Give an example of a time when you had difficulty balancing your personal and work objectives. What did you do?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate sacrifice time/plans/energy for the sake of a work objective, without compromising values or dignity? Was there resistance/low effort to make a personal sacrifice to reach a work objective? Was the candidate able to balance all objectives to his/her satisfaction?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Getting the job done may necessitate unusual persistence or dedication to results, especially when faced with obstacles or distractions. Tell me about a time in which you were able to be very persistent in order to reach goals. Be specific.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an uncompromising commitment to a goal, as shown by long hours of work?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “We both recognize that being successful takes more than luck. Hard work is necessary in order to achieve. Tell me about a time when you had to work very hard to reach your goals and be specific about what you achieved.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an unusual commitment in order to reach an objective, reflecting both high effort and accomplishment? Was there a routine response to work demands, rather than self-directed effort?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Tell me about a time when you were able to provide your own motivation to produce even though you were working alone. What were the circumstances of the situation and how did you manage to motivate yourself?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate have a performance strategy, which enhanced alertness, productivity, or efficiency? Was there compliance with a standard or requirement set by a team, manager, or organization?
Posted in Education and Career

Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Verbal Communication and Assertiveness

Behavioral Interview Questions: Verbal Communication and Assertiveness

Verbal Communication and assertiveness is the ability to clearly present information through the spoken word or written word; read an interpret complex information; listen well; Ability to maturely express one’s feelings and opinions in spite of disagreement; accurately communicates to others regardless of their status or position.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “What have been your experiences in making presentations or speeches to small or large groups? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make a well-planned, tasteful presentation, perhaps involving use of visual aids, appropriate examples, and/or written speeches? Was there a lack of presentation experience, fear of public speaking, poor self-expression, and/or little awareness of presentation techniques?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Give me an example of a time when you had to be assertive in giving directions to others.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate give firm, clear direction, perhaps with concern for another’s feelings? Was there an emotional reaction such as anger or anxiety?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Give me an example, taken from your experiences in report writing, preparation of memos, or general correspondence that illustrates the extent of your written communication skills.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate describe professional skills in writing, including independent development of lengthy/creative/research documents or important business/professional correspondence? Were there activities, such as coding or preparation of documents, with little discretion on the candidate’s part?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “What has been your experience in giving explanations or instructions to another person? Feel free to talk about your experiences in management, training, or coaching others.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make a clear, confident presentation in a manner consistent with the listener’s needs and abilities? Was there little preparation and/or fear/anxiety about the presentation?
Posted in Education and Career

Behavioral Interview Questions by Competency: Leadership

Behavioral Interview Questions: Leadership

Leadership is the ability to influence the actions and opinions of others in a desired direction; to exhibit judgment in lading others to worthwhile objectives.

  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Give me an example of how you have used your own personal qualities and appeals to lead others.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make a presentation with an emphasis on feelings rather than facts, perhaps using metaphors/examples/stories to express the feeling? Was there little skill in using another person’s emotions to influence his/her decision?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Communications and leadership go hand in hand. Give me an example of a time when your communication skills were powerful enough to enable you to influence the way others thought or acted, even in a very difficult situation.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate prepare a message, with careful choice of words, in order to be effective in light of individual/situational needs? Was there some reluctance to communicate, an absence of preparation, and/or an overuse of authority?
  • Behavioral Interview Question: “Give me an example of a time when you used facts and reason to persuade another person to take action. Be specific.”
    Evaluating the candidate’s answer: Did the candidate make an organized presentation, making benefit statements, dealing with concerns, and/or asking for a decision? Was there little/superficial attempt to influence?
Posted in Education and Career