Wow. Spending the last two weekends of February learning felt like immersion in a warm and rich climate of curiosity. I learned a new term to describe my interest in learning--catalytic curiosity--from Chip Conley in his talk about "modern elders" and our place in the world. This begins a series of captured and curated wisdom from juicy time spent with my best friend and partner at Wisdom 2.0 and the Search for Meaning book festival.Read More
I got an all-time favorite testament to the power of being authentic and bringing "all" of who you are to your work recently. In a closing coaching conversation with a member of our leadership development cohort this young leader shared that one of his most powerful discoveries was the concept that when you invite your people to bring ALL of who they are to work each day, you get ALL of what they have to offer. His team of 120 achieved 147% of their quota. WOW! That is leadership in action. Inviting ALL of each team member creates that synergy where truly the result is GREATER than the sum of the parts. The difference in this leader's presence between December 2015 to November 2016 was also substantially different.Read More
It is so important to create space in a busy life for slowing down.Read More
What is YOUR default setting for taking in information/feedback? What choices do you want to make about that setting? When there is a lesson to be learned, the teacher arrives. What is my lesson here? How can this lesson contribute to my own self-awareness, to my clients and to my work?Read More
Much is made these days about what it takes to build a great career. There are lots of ways to consider this question and engage in the conversation. Based on my 25 years of experience (my “10,000” hours) in working with professionals considering this question of “what it takes” to build a great career I have developed a framework to guide you in being intentional about what you do to achieve and maintain career success and satisfaction. It has been fun to refine and polish this model in the Professional Development class I am teaching at Seattle University.
The Framework includes six elements--Values & Growth, Ratios & Relationship, and Strengths & Contributions. This is the first in a series of publications examining each element and providing resources for you to use as you choose to be intentional in your career management.
VALUES. Start with a firm foundation.
What matters most to you?
- What are your core values? Begin with understanding your own values and how they influence your decisions. Connecting back to your values consistently will ensure that you remain aligned with what is most important to you. An exercise that I use is a Managing with Values worksheet that was adapted by my colleague Martha Duesterhoft and slightly modified by me. You are welcome to email me to ask for this worksheet if you are interested. There are also online Values assessments many of which are based on work originally done by Milton Rokeach
- How do your values inform your decisions? Sometimes the practical realities of life dictate where we work and the choices we make as we align with our values and choose what is accessible to us at given points in the life span of careers. Family relationships came first when I made the choice to leave IBM to stay home even though the practical reality meant changes from two incomes to one impacted our lifestyle. The flexibility to put the meaningful relationships first has been a primary decision driver for me. A decision support tool can be used to evaluate different choices. You name your decision drivers (like flexibility), give each a weight and then assess each option on each factor to come up with totals. This is a way to incorporate your “left brain” analytical resource, and then your “right brain” emotional/relational dimension will respond. This is another tool I am happy to share if you email your request.
- What is your career vision? How does your work support your vision? It has been consistent that the clients with the clearest vision are the most successful in achieving what matters to them--from the graphic designer whose vision 10 years ago was to illustrate children’s books and is now on his fourth publication to the local leader working for a global firm headquartered in Florida whose mantra was to “stay here and be VP”--your clarity and conviction will activate your vision. In the video clip below, Dan Pink suggests it is “your sentence” and your clarity about it makes all the difference. The most successful companies spend time refining their “mission, vision, and values.” it is worth your time to do the same.
- Other ways to tune in to your values would include reflecting on the cultures in which you have felt most aligned. Capture the essentials of what worked for you and look at the organization’s stated values. I still remember “Respect” on the wall at IBM, and how I felt “respect” in the way we were trained to listen to our customers and to honor each other as part of the corporate culture. Healthy relationships have always been most important (highest value) to me and treating others with respect aligned with that. How DO you name what matters most to you and keep it front and center as you are making career choices?
How do your choices reflect your values? This begins with each day and the priorities you choose. What is your life--personal and professional--saying about what matters to you?
Some of the research/writing that I use
and find meaningful includes:
Dan Pink’s book “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”
Following is a clip that I like to use and connects back to the idea of having your own personal vision statement. The clip from the book Drive by Dan Pink encourages you to consider what “your sentence” is. Your sentence can be inclusive of your values and your legacy. It is like your personal Vision Statement and is a powerful way to activate what you want in your career.
David Brooks' Ted Talk (watch here)
This is a great reminder of your lived values and to me it speaks to the importance of congruence. You can’t separate who you are at work from who you are in your life. Your life and your everyday behavior should speak to what you value most. When you align your choices with what you most value it may not always be the easiest path. It will consistently be the most authentic and you are more likely to remain peaceful and grounded.
A recent discovery is the concept of Job Crafting outlined by Yale researcher Amy Wrzesniewski. She talks about the difference between a calling, a career, and a job. Her suggestions align with Pink and Brooks as she talks about the importance of having choice in crafting your tasks (autonomy), influence in who you work with and how you get your work done (mastery or relational crafting), and it is essential that we find meaning (purpose or cognitive crafting) in the work that we do.
Much is written these days about Personal and/or Professional Branding. For many years this has been an implicit and explicit topic covered with clients—whether they are leaders considering how they are “showing up” in their role, or professionals choosing change. Over the last few years I have been invited to speak about branding, often oriented around practical instruction about LinkedIn. I call myself the “unlikely evangelist” for LinkedIn because of how it enables you to communicate your “brand” and to stay in touch with and/or connect with people in the professional world.
What is your “personal brand”?
My framework for considering this question has evolved since before the marketplace started naming it personal branding. It contains three dimensions:
- How you show up in person in your work and your personal life. Congruence matters. Body language speaks volumes. Actions do indeed speak louder than words! It is no longer reasonable to try to completely separate your work person from your away from work person in our digital world. This includes your personality style, your image, your reputation, your values, and your background. What is the first and second and third impression people have when they interact with you?
- What impact do you have with your communications? How does it align with what you value? You have so many choices today about how, when and where you use your words. Whether you text, email, skype, FaceTime, call, tweet, or any of the other ways you communicate, you are impacting your reader/listener with every communication.
- How are you managing your digital presence? Whether you want it or not, you will make an impression by how you present yourself digitally—especially if you are a professional and you do NOT show up digitally. You WILL be searched. You can and should proactively manage what is found about you.
So what can you do to proactively manage your brand?
Certainly there are many things to consider since your brand includes all of the components in each of the dimensions above. Following are some tactical “must do’s” for professionals:
- Know your response to the “tell me about yourself” question that gets asked in networking events and interviews. Your response should align with your LinkedIn summary and your Executive Summary on your resume and include:
- What you love to do, are best at doing, and/or value most in work.
- Your depth and breadth of background or your interest as it relates to your credibility for the work you do or want to do.
- The work you do or want to do and/or your perfect role, client or company.
- LinkedIn Absolutes! Leverage LinkedIn to manage your digital brand. You will be searched and this is what will come up first if you are an active user. It is the place professionals go first to check you out.
- Get a good photo! Not having a photo or having a poor one may be the first impression you make.
- Edit your headline and your url.
- Include a summary.
- Populate skills intentionally.
- View the help webinars if you are new to LinkedIn or want to learn more.
- Resumes. What matters? They continue to be the professional “gold standard” for marketing collateral though that is beginning to shift.
- Align with the norms of your industry.
- Remember that it is the top half of the first page that captures your target audience…OR NOT.
- Understand how your resume serves you, the importance of keeping it up to date with relevant accomplishments, and how it fits in pursuing possibilities.
- Consider what type of marketing collateral is most useful to you in how you will communicate. It may not be a resume.
Because LinkedIn is the digital, professional “elephant” in the marketplace, your presence there will often define the first impression you make. You will present yourself most authentically and powerfully if you actually think about how you “show up” in your world and make a plan for it.
What’s Listening Got To Do With It? Turns out it’s got a lot to do with it. “It” being the possibility of experiencing all we’re meant to experience – in our jobs, lives, and relationships. If listening, EQ, social skills, and emotional intelligence have an impact on the quality of our lives let’s give it some attention. Companies and individuals benefit from learning how to more effectively communicate in their relationships – starting with strengthening our listening muscles.Read More
My husband and business partner Wally and I recently attended the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. It was inspirational, engaging and motivating. The conference itself was well done and included speakers who appealed to a broad range of people. Speakers ranged from Pete Carroll and his sports psychologist, the former CEO of EBay, and CEO’s of Aetna and technology companies to mindfulness thought leaders like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield and Byron Katie to the designer Eileen Fisher and the founder of Indiegogo (fundamentally changed fundraising). It included practical science and ideas for application for individuals and organizations in education, non-profits, and traditional businesses.
Following are some of my favorite content takeaways from the event followed by personal reflections…
Meng, the "Jolly Good Fellow" taught us that Joy is a highly trainable skill.
- The bare minimum for achieving healthy benefit from mindfulness is one minute.
- Physiologically--you breath more slowly and more deeply--heart rate goes down.
- Psychological--to experience regret you are thinking about the past; your worry is in the future; in the time you are focused on the breath you are in the present--you are free from worry and regret.
- Kindness is intrinsically rewarding. He offered the example of a person in his workshop who did the homework of each hour spending 10 seconds wishing joy for someone. This person who previously hated her job emailed that she had the best day ever at work with 80 seconds of thinking kindly.
Mark Brackett was fun, funny and completely compelling in his discussion of emotional intelligence. He offered a simple 4 quadrant framework measuring energy on the vertical axis and pleasantness on the horizontal. He invited us to become an "emotion scientist".
Emotions matter for
- Attention, memory and learning
- Decision-making and judgment
- Relationship quality--when we display emotions we telegraph
- Physical and mental health--how we feel influences health
- Everyday effectiveness--there is a focus on perseverance
He has proven that emotions matter as much or more than cognitive competence in student's ability to learn.
Trudy Goodman and Jack Kornfield. Exploring the Shadow.
- "People do things. And so do we." This was her mindfulness teacher's response to her righteous indignation about the mistreatment she'd felt from her "wasband" (her ex-husband).
- She talked about "scoreboard" people and our opportunity to respond to them and offered this quote "It never hurts to see the good in another. They often act the better because of it." Nelson Mandela
- There was a discussion about the neuroscience of compassion with a distinction between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to feel with another which can just make us feel sad. Compassion adds response or action and physiologically changes the brain. It includes "how can I respond?" and leads to feeling empowered and refreshed.
John Donahoe, former CEO or EBay suggested that we “Presume Trust” and told his personal story of being compared to a Nazi prison guard in the heat of tough changes. He used the phrase, ”in the tech crunch you are a hero or you are a zero.” His message was compelling.
Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna spoke on a panel with John Kabat-Zinn and Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio. There were all kinds of juicy gems in this one like…
- I believe in life BEFORE death
- Re-define work--Instead of working for "the man" you work to help each other
- To lead you have to trust; in order to get trust you have to give it
- You can't be great unless you are vulnerable
- Leadership comes from followership, not from being anointed
- We don't need to go further left, we don't need to go further right, we need to go deeper--Pastor Jim Wallace
- Ashanti had us all crying reading the letter that began his talk and ended it. He has a non-profit that teaches boys of color how to engage with the education system through understanding emotions and the masks we are conditioned to wear.
- I LOVED the videos at NatureRX. These are playful looks at the importance and value of getting outside.
- And if you like to laugh you need to watch the videos that playfully look at meditation, communication, and other life experiences at www.jasonheadley.com/
One of the less relevant personal takeaways was that I LOVED that the women on the stage in my demographic had wrinkles and smiles that looked completely natural and felt authentic and real. I do believe it to be true that “happy girls are the prettiest!”
I appreciated the connection to spirit and all the ways that the conference confirmed and connected to the Jesuit tradition of the faith practice that I prefer. The Jesuits have had this wisdom for their entire history. So much of what was taught aligns with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
I laughed. I cried. I laughed until I cried. I learned. I got to share it with my best friend and the love of my life. It was a perfect way to celebrate a milestone anniversary and to learn forward for the next 30 years.
Author: Walter Boos
In a previous post we talked about the importance of hiring and keeping the right people (right people on the bus —> in right seats). An important component of getting this done is to be intentional and thoughtful about defining your organization’s mission, vision, and core values.
We all understand it is always important to write a job description that itemizes the required skills and experience. That is the equivalent of making sure the right people are in the right seats.
But what is sometimes overlooked is defining the personal qualities and attributes in a candidate that will make them “fit in” with their new colleagues. In other words, should that candidate be on the bus at all? What are your company’s values? It is only when you KNOW your company values that you can then assess potential new hires and their compatibility with those key values.
Tim Cadogan is the CEO of OpenX. In a recent LinkedIn post he had this to say about company values:
“Taking the time to define values, breathe life into them, personally exemplify them and keep them fresh and essential is one of the most important things we can do to make our organizations thrive, whether they are companies, sports teams, classes, charities or volunteer groups.”
-Tim Cadogan, CEO, OpenX (read the full article here).
Southwest Airlines publishes their core values. They are:
- Warrior Spirit (Work Hard; Desire to the best; Be courageous; Display a sense of urgency; Persevere; Innovate)
- Servant’s Heart (Follow the Golden Rule; Adhere to the Basic Principles; Treat others with respect; Put others first; Be egalitarian; Demonstrate proactive customer service; Embrace the SWA Family)
- Fun-LUVing Attitude (Have FUN; Don’t take yourself too seriously; Maintain perspective (balance); Celebrate successes; Enjoy your work; Be a passionate team player)
In being public about their core values Southwest is accomplishing at least two things:
- Potential job candidates can read and understand what’s important to the company – and determine if they can be comfortable on that “company bus”.
- Southwest employees who interview candidates can assess their alignment with the company’s core values.
Define and document your company’s core values. And equally important – assess your job candidates in light of those values. By doing so you will increase the odds of getting the right people on the bus – so you can then focus on seat assignments.
Negotiating is consistently one of the topics my business graduate students put at the top of their list of what they want to learn. The mystery of how to navigate the sticky question about money is one that can unnerve even the most confident professional.
This piece from the Today Show quotes a statistic that 56% of employees have never asked for a raise and 49% of candidates accept what is offered. My anecdotal experience is that well prepared professionals—whether they are asking for a raise or negotiating based on their value for a new job—most often get what they ask for. The tenet “ask and you will receive” does apply here most often.
Key points in `preparing for negotiating include:
Know your worth. Do your research to know what the salary norms are for professionals at your level in your industry. Sites like Glassdoor, Salary.com, PayScale, and job search sites like Indeed and SimplyHired all have salary data. The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and GuideStar’s Non-Profit Compensation reports are also places to find relevant data.
Always start with your value. List your accomplishments/contributions including the value to the business so that you are clear about your value proposition. This is always the place to begin. Know who you are talking to and start with them in mind and what you will add, or have added to their business or team.
Be prepared to negotiate for other things like working from home and adjusted schedules if you believe that higher compensation may not be an option in your company or situation.
Compare apples to apples when you look at total packages as the salary number is only part of the total compensation.
The time to negotiate an offer typically is between the time the offer is given and the time it is accepted. Sometimes compensation conversations will happen before an offer is written to ensure the terms are acceptable on both sides. Be prepared for these types of conversations.
DO ask and DO Negotiate! If you have questions or concerns, get help from a professional or trusted colleague.
Watching the recent Presidential debates punctuated the importance of how you “show up” in your professional world. An important element of effective professional communication is aligning with the “style” norms of the organization or group you are a part of or working with.
Recently I was asked by an executive client about “dress codes” and why there are implicit and sometimes explicit rules about how to dress. Great question! My answer is that you do not want your appearance to distract from your competence. If I am busy noticing your blue hair or tattoo, or simply your jeans when everyone else is wearing more formal dress, I may be distracted into wondering about your motivation for those choices rather than being favorably impressed by your brilliance or competence. Schools have dress codes to eliminate distraction and discrimination. Companies and organizations also typically have norms for our professional appearance and it is in your best interest to follow them.
Another great illustration of the importance of professional presence was the debate stage with Republican Candidates. When I asked my class of business graduate students about the differences, one of them characterized Ben Carson’s presence as “NyQuil” which is often used to help put us sleep. He is clearly brilliant and competent to have made it to that stage yet the cadence of his speech was significantly slower than his opponents in a noticeable way. Matching the style and cadence speech norms is important in making positive impressions.
Your professional presence aka your body language speaks more loudly about you than the words that you choose. Your emotional intelligence and ability to “read the room” and modify accordingly makes a big difference in how you are perceived. Here is one of my favorite short TEDtalks with some useful suggestions on how to improve your communication.
It is a New Year--how about including some Career Resolutions? One that many ask about in all different ways is the big money question. This clip has GREAT points--some that jump out include 56% of people never ask for a raise. This is so true in my 20+ years of coaching experience, and it is also true that when people finally do ask for a raise in the right way--they get it!
If you don't ask, you won't get it--seems obvious and fear is often what holds people back--how about being bold in 2016?
Know your worth. You have more access to salary data than ever before. Use it to understand your market value. Glassdoor, Salary.com, Payscale Indeed, Simplyhired...the list goes on for where you can find market data about your worth.
Prepare! ALWAYS have a clear picture (including metrics) of your value. List the outcomes you have produced for your organization and be clear about your contributions. ALWAYS begin with these.
Know what you want. If your organization is not in a position to give you more money, what are the other possibilities?
Be ready to explore other options. One of the vital elements in professional development is growth. How will you ensure your professional growth this year?
In no particular order, the books that have been the biggest part of my work and interest in the last year include
The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
She includes science that proves that your beliefs about stress have a direct impact on how stress impacts your life and health. See her great TEDtalk here.
Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heed
They were the authors of Difficult Conversations, a bestseller that I read in my master’s program about how to engage in healthier conflict. The distinctions between triggers and different forms of feedback are helpful for building self-awareness and social awareness. The triggers identified include truth, relationship and identity triggers, and different forms of feedback include appreciation, coaching and evaluation. The following slide share gives a great overview.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The best part of this book is where she talks about passion and our overblown cultural invitation to find your “passion” that can create inertia for some. She encourages what I have consistently encouraged instead—follow your curiosity and let it inspire you to places that are resonant. See her Ted Talk here.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
My favorite part of Brene Brown’s latest book is the overview she included of her two other bestsellers, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. Her work continues to resonate and no matter how many times I watch her “most viewed” TEDtalk on vulnerability, it still evokes that emotion about whether “I am enough.” She is a gifted storyteller with a Texan drawl that makes it sassy and fun to read and/or listen to. If you haven’t already viewed it, this one is a must see.
Before Happiness by Shawn Achor
This one was published in 2013 and is one that I re-listened to recently and discovered some new insights. The five strategies Achor suggests that will get you to “positive genius” include:
- Choose the most valuable reality
- Map paths to success by connecting to your meaning markers
- Create boost with success accelerants--this is about making your goal seem closer
- Cancel the noise—usually this is the internal noise of our limiting beliefs or fears
- Positive inception—communicate your positive visions and viewpoints to get support
Achor’s TEDtalk is also one of the most viewed and one of my personal favorites because he is fun and funny.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Another one that I reread this year as I work on myself and with my clients to create and maintain healthy, vital habits and to rid myself of self-defeating behaviors. One of the compelling messages in the book is that 40% of our actions are not based on decisions. They are habits that happen automatically. He offers the science that show how and why habits are created and techniques for building proactive behaviors.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Gawande looks at how the medical system treats the “problems” in healthcare as people face their own mortality, and misses some of the emotional/relational human elements. It may help you consider conversations that you want to have with your loved ones. He also has a TEDtalk here.
Handle the BIG Rocks First!
Interesting illustration of Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Principle #3 Put First Things First
This is a common conversation with clients with a goal of creating balance in their lives. With the recent political dialogue as well, this seems like a timely favorite story illustration about honoring priorities. This came to me again recently in a daily inspiration email I receive from Roger Omholt. Thank you Roger. I am thinking about trying it with my class--our Monday class this week included exercises about the importance of anchoring your career in your values.
TWO GLASSES OF RED WINE
"When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of red wine...
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'
The professor then produced two glasses of red wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.'
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.'
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. 'I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of red wine with a friend.”
The first time I heard this story the liquid used was beer--I especially like the red wine version:)!
The science of happiness is a relatively new dimension of psychology and there are some great resources to help you boost your "happiness" quotient. Following are a couple of my favorites—
Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk, ”The happy secret to better work” is one of the most viewed talks because it is both entertaining and informative with story and science. His books, The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness are great handbooks full of ideas for incorporating behaviors that will contribute to happiness in your work and life.
NPR is SUCH a great resource! The NPR TED Radio Hour is one of my all-time favorite resources. There are so many TEDtalks now it is tough to sort through the ones that will be most interesting. Guy Roz does a great job of finding the great ones that are related and spending time talking to the speakers, incorporating the “best bits” of the talks, and distilling the juiciest parts of the talk into his program. Following is a link to his radio show called “Simply Happy.” I look forward to listening to the podcasts each week.
Ask Powerful Questions—more importantly—LISTEN well for their answers
Create a Two-Way Dialogue
This is the MOST important part of your interview. Powerful questions demonstrate your preparation and enable you to uncover what your interviewer cares about most. There are all kinds of important questions to ask and I believe your beginning and closing questions are the most important for any type of interview. I call these “framing” questions.
Beginning your interview conversation with a framing question like, “What is most important for you to learn from me today?” and/or “What do you believe are the most important attributes of the candidate you will hire or the most important outcome the person in this role will create in the next year?” This orients your conversation toward the interviewer—whether it as a HR phone screen or a decision maker—you establish up front what they believe is vital to the job and how you can best connect your value to what they need. It begins your conversation in a way that orients it toward the interviewer.
From there you want to create a two-way dialogue if possible. Sometimes in structured interviews they will want to ask their questions and get your responses and if/when this is the case you need to honor their structure. In your preparation hopefully you know what type of interview to expect. When you are able to create the conversation you always want to answer their question and then segue into a related follow on question. For example, the interviewer asks about your most successful project—you answer connecting it to their context and then ask about the most important project this role will be expected to execute. The best interviews are synergistic dialogues.
The framing question at the close of an interview asks for feedback. It typically will follow the interviewer’s question to you, “what other questions do you have?” It may be something like, “what is your assessment of how my skills and background align with what you are hoping for?” You may also add before or after your closing question (if you believe it to be true), “based on our conversation I feel confident that I will do well in this role and am excited for the possibility.” This is your opportunity to check in on how you did. If you are uncomfortable with a question this direct you always want to ask about next steps in the process before you end.
Other powerful questions to consider between your framing questions could include:
- What are the biggest changes your group has experienced in the last year? What were the impacts? What changes do you anticipate in the next year?
- If I get the job, what does “exceeding expectations” on my performance review look like? What are the key outcomes you'd like to see in this role over the next year?
- How would you characterize your (or my future boss') leadership style?
- Which of your major competitors worries you most and why?
- How do other departments--sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance--work here? (I.e., groups other than the one you're interviewing for.) And how would you describe how your group works with them?
- How would you describe the professionals who are most successful here? What types of people don’t fit?
- What's one thing that's key to your company's success that somebody from outside the company wouldn't know about?
- Tell me about your background in this industry? What do you most appreciate about your industry/company?
- What are your group's best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?
- What keeps you up at night? What's your biggest worry these days?
- Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other?
- Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I'm considering whether or not I'd be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?
- Why did you decide to hire this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?
- Tell me about your performance management/reward system. How do you acknowledge your employees?
- What do you like best about your system? What about it works well? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?
- How do you do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I'm doing the best I can for the company?
- What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an "open book" management style or something different?
- How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?
- If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make success happen?
- How does this position contribute to those goals?
- What is the rhythm to the work here? Is there a time of year that is more intense? How about during the week / month? Is work evenly spread, or are there crunch days?
- What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the "perfect" candidate look like? (This could also be a way to ask a framing question)
- What is your (or my future boss') hiring philosophy? Is it "hire the attitude / teach the skills" or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise?
- What's your process and timeline for making a decision on this position?
4 Phases of Interview Preparation--Phase One
Simple is best. The essentials of good interview prep include four phases. And they punctuate the two elements that will sell you to your potential employer—PASSION & PREPARATION.
Begin by being clear about the ”who, when, where, what and why” of your conversation. I just got off the phone with a client who learned today that the all-day interview scheduled for next week will actually include a presentation. Because she is a great networker and she does her homework to learn as much as she can going in, she created the conversation where she learned more about the expectations in the interview—and she now has more time to prepare well—who knows if/when she would have learned of this expectation.
Who will you be meeting? What are their roles? What do you know about them? Do your research to know all you can about the individuals you will meet to enable you to more powerfully build the personal AND the professional connection in your conversation. Look them up on LinkedIn AND google (or Bing) them to learn about other interests like where they donate time or money, what neighborhood they live in, any recognition or participation in industry forums, etc.. This can help you prepare better questions AND answers both as you enter the conversation and during your dialogue.
When and Where will your interview be? How long will it be? What is the format? Many times in working with candidates they are not clear about the logistics. This can create unneeded anxiety around time and what is to be expected. It is essential that you “arrive” well rested and fed and a little early. It is important that you ask if you are not clear about the details. Whether in person or on the phone, preparing your physical, emotional and mental person is vital to “showing up” most powerfully. Clarity about location, length and structure means that you go in understanding more about what to expect so that you can feel more calm and confident.
Practice your most important self-care routines to get yourself ready—rest, eat, exercise, meditate or pray—to get yourself in the right frame of mind and spirit. Help for showing up more confident in your body language may include using a “power pose” before your conversation. A favorite preparation tip is offered by Harvard Body Language researcher Amy Cuddy in her talk here http://poptech.org/popcasts/amy_cuddy_power_poses.
What & Why? Most importantly, know about the job you are interviewing for. Do your research about the company, what their “pain points” are right now and how those needs (pain points) relate to this role. Find out what you can about why the job is open and who held it before you so that you are equipped to ask important questions that may influence your interest AND your ability to be successful.
Do your research—both electronically and conversationally—like the client who learned through her network that she needs to get a presentation prepared for her interview. Your good research enables you to demonstrate how you will perform in the job. Learning as much as you can about the people, position, and company will equip you to ask more powerful questions and give more powerful answers. These are the topics for Phase 2 and 3 of this series on Interview Preparation.
To prepare well for interviews you need to know how you want to answer potential questions that will be part of the dialogue. Following is a list of potential questions with some suggestions about how you might answer each.
Classic Interview Questions
Tell me about yourself
- Keep it relatively brief and oriented toward the company or context
- What are the most important things I want this person to know about me? Career summary/target message as a conversation relating it to company & individual.
- Brief description of your depth and breadth of background/experience. Highlight your accomplishments & skills that relate to role.
- Key strengths/skills – RELEVANCE is most important key here!
What career accomplishments are you most proud of?
- Using the Problem, Action, Result (PAR) format be ready with 3 that highlight strengths that most closely relate to the role.
- Connect your outcomes to their need—map them to this role and loop back with a question to them about the needs/responsibilities of the job.
- Include metric and anecdote that will differentiate you. Appeal to the left brain with the data (numbers, dollars, and percentages), and the right brain with a memorable story.
What is the greatest strength that you will bring to this organization?
- Be prepared with your three favorites.
- Illustrate them with an accomplishment story that includes metric and connects to needs of the role.
- Be sure to engage in a dialogue asking what strengths the interviewer sees as most needed.
What is your weakness?
- Keep this brief.
- Only name one that does not relate directly to the role.
- Make sure what you name is honest and demonstrates self-awareness. Include what you have learned about yourself and how you manage your weakness.
Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years? Professionally?
What skills do you enjoy using the most? What about the least?
What adjectives would your references use to describe you?
Please walk me through a typical day at your current/previous job. Tell me about your boss and your relationship with them. (Caution--especially if your boss is your reference, make sure it rings true and of course in any response you want to keep it oriented positively).
Why have you decided to leave your current position?
Why are you interested in this job? What do you know about our company? You should have done your research beyond just their website and know what is in the news about them and your response to this question can again connect your background and value directly to their company.
Why should we hire you?
What is your salary expectation?
- First choice is to defer the question. This is less possible with external recruiters as this may be one of their first screening questions. Always honor the person asking in how your respond.
- Second is to give a range based on your research. You can check salary ranges just by googling and typically Glassdoor, Payscale, Indeed and sites like those will come up with good information.
- If pushed, give your history in the context of the role and check-in to see where that fits with their expectation.
- Reinforce that you are most interested in learning more about the company and the role.
Behavioral Interview Questions
The behavioral interview is looking for specific examples of how you handled situations – not general statements. These questions are related to the skills you need to perform the job and you want to be sure to include the result—preferably a positive one!
Include these points:
- A specific situation – tell the story, talk a little bit about it so they have a frame of reference
- What needed to be done and the actions you took
- The results—it is most important to include the metrics for your results that will be most meaningful to your listener. (PAR format)
- Finish with what you learned from that experience. Lessons Learned.
- Think about your Problem/Action/Result (PAR) format.
- Ask yourself what skill the question addresses.
- Thing about your past experiences – most recent job, past jobs, leadership roles – for situations you can share.
- Use the job description/job post to identify the required skills
- Prepare your stories and connect them to the needs of the role.
Possible Behavioral Interview questions:
- Conflict Management – ‘describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult person’s problem. How did you resolve the situation?’
- Influencing/Conflict Management – ‘tell me about a situation when you had a differing opinion from others in a group and how you got your point across.’
- Emotions/Diffusing Anger – ‘give me an example of a situation where you dealt with an angry customer or client and describe how you resolved the situation.’
- Ethics and integrity – ‘give me an example of a situation where you observed or became aware of an employee or co-worker acting unethically. How did you handle the situation?’
- Team Decision Making – ‘describe a team or group you have been a part of and how you dealt with reaching decisions and/or creating plans for action.’
- Goal Oriented/Self Directed – ‘what goals did you set for yourself during the year and how did you achieve them?’
- Sizing up People/Situational leadership – ‘describe a situation in which you were able to read another person effectively and guide your actions by understanding his/her needs.’
- Prioritization – ‘tell me about a time when you had to juggle many different tasks at once and how you handled it.’
- Flexible, Adaptable – ‘describe a time when you had to switch gears quickly. What were the circumstances and how did you do it?’
- Time Management – ‘tell me about a time when you had many deadlines to meet in a short period of time. How did you prepare yourself and organize your time?’
- Organization skills – ‘tell me about a project you were responsible for that you had to organize start to finish. How did you approach this and complete it?’
- Conflict Management – ‘describe a situation where you had a misunderstanding with a co-worker or business associate and how you resolved it.’
- Teamwork – ‘When working with a group, do you tend to support or lead the team? Give an example of both experiences.
- Resourcefulness – ‘Tell me about a situation when you were given a complicated assignment with little or no information. How did you complete the assignment?’
- Managing Diversity – ‘Give me an example of a situation in a past work experience where you demonstrated sensitivity to individual differences.’
Situational Interview Questions
This allows the interviewer to understand your thinking, decision making, and problem solving processes. It can also help them see how fast you think on your feet.
- How do you go about building a relationship with a new customer or client?
- What type of communication would you choose to use to address a complaint from a peer or co-worker? Your manager? A more senior manager?
- If you had tight deadlines you were concerned about meeting, what would you do?
- When you have a lot of tasks on your plate at one time, how do you go about deciding what tasks to do and when to do them?
- Tell about a time when you didn’t achieve what you wanted (get the promotion, accomplish the desired project results, etc.) and how you handled it.
- Tell about a time when you improved a process or project.
- What is your favorite work accomplishment?
Always also be prepared to answer the “random” questions about your favorite color or “if you were a car, what model would you be?” –without judgment and aligned with your style.
Lesson Two. I can do anything!! We are resilient and resourceful beyond what we know.
Kilimanjaro was not on my bucket list…AND I am so grateful it got on my daughters’ lists thanks to their amazing dad!
There were many unexpected miracles in Africa.
The resilience and strength of the human spirit was evident and alive so many times and in so many ways. First I experienced it in Rwanda most profoundly. Witnessing and experiencing the growth and development in Kigali amazed me. Seeing the images of destruction and reading the stories from 1994 and then driving through the city seeing all the new construction and being at the school with the children illustrated how resourceful we humans are on a large scale.
Joining my family after they summited the tallest free-standing mountain in the world illustrated resilience and strength at a very personal level. Each of the five climbers had stories of “OMG, I had no idea about how hard it would actually be!!!” They witnessed multiple climbers who didn’t make it, and they each had their own story of what made it hard for them. Between altitude sickness that made them nauseous and a little woozy feeling in their head, the temperature that made it difficult to feel fingers and toes, hiking in the middle of the night and just wanting to be sleeping, and legs that didn’t want to take another step up---multiple factors contributed to powerful resistance to making it to the summit.
They all made it. They each proved to themselves their own resilience and strength in a very tangible way. My favorite comment following the climb was “I can do anything Mom.” My heart sings thinking about it now. Yes, you can!!!! You can do anything you put your mind, heart and spirit into. You can do anything with a little help from your friends (and family). Without the support and encouragement from each other, they may not have all summited. You can do anything you have the courage to commit yourself to do.
Finally getting the text telling me that they had all summited while standing in the Ebola line in the Nairobi airport on my way to join the climbers, tears were running down my face. I wanted to jump up and down and holler “yes, you CAN do anything!!!” You just proved it. You proved it to yourself.
Thoughts from Africa
My mother used to use the statement, “there are starving children in Africa” to punctuate the importance of me eating my vegetables. I now understand these words very differently after visiting this most extraordinary place.
When Wally decided to attempt summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro I just couldn’t get excited about the adventure (cold, altitude, food—all concerned me). Connecting the trip to a fundraiser for the St. Ignatius School that was being rebuilt in Rwanda gave me my passion for a trip of a lifetime. It turned out to be more than I expected in so many ways!!
Following is the first installment of learnings written after my first day…
Lesson One–It is most remarkable what a committed community can achieve together!
I am overwhelmed!
With joy and gratitude for the smiling faces and warmth I experienced at the St Ignatius School today…with sadness and pain for the story of horror I experienced at the Genocide Museum in Kigali. I am overwhelmed with the emotion of the opposite--the hopefulness and positive energy, learning and growth, faith and hope at the school; the confusion and pain, horror and amazement at evil that has happened in our world.
It was delight and wonder and amazement. I witnessed and experienced them all in the faces who welcomed me today. The children were playing as they celebrated the end of exams and prepared for their celebration of St. Ignatius Day. The secondary students had just finished exams and some were serious, most were playing basketball, volleyball and generally looking happy as students do when they are done with exams.
The elementary students were completely darling and curious and so interested. They were practicing dances and singing. The most charming were the youngest who immediately welcomed me when we entered the classroom and were thrilled to surround and hug me as I was leaving. The school just won a big award for being "the best" in an all-around assessment measuring academics, environment and outcomes. It was most impressive to see what has been built in the short time since 2008.
It is so hard to believe that all was destroyed only 21 years ago in 1994. Visiting the museum this afternoon was most sobering. I have been to the 911 Memorial and to the Oklahoma City Memorial and read and heard stories of the Holocaust in Germany. The history of genocide and the story of how atrocity is born and executed is profoundly sad beyond anything else I have experienced. It is so very hard to take in and believe.
The school is a miracle built out of the indomitable spirit of a community and dedicated individuals--just an idea in 2005, elementary started in 2008 ( now 500+ students), secondary built in 2012 with faith and vision to be sending graduates to college in a couple of years.
Thank you again to each of you who have contributed. As I sit here under the full moon in Kigali I am filled with gratitude for the abundant blessings in my life.