11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader:
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown
After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video – storytelling wins customers.
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey
Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.
“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier
There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.
5. Team Playing
“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying
No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll
The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin
There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs
Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.
9. Surprise and Delight
“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle
Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.
“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser
The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton
Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time if they got a hand-written note!
The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated
By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.
Three Things I’ve Learned From Warren Buffett:
Last month, I went to Omaha for the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. It’s always a lot of fun, and not just because of the ping-pong matches and the newspaper-throwing contest I have with Warren Buffett. It’s also fun because I get to learn from Warren and gain insight into how he thinks.
Here are three things I’ve learned from Warren over the years:
1. It’s not just about investing.
The first thing people learn from Warren, of course, is how to think about investing. That’s natural, given his amazing track record. Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people stop, and they miss out on the fact that he has a whole framework for business thinking that is very powerful. For example, he talks about looking for a company’s moat—its competitive advantage—and whether the moat is shrinking or growing. He says a shareholder has to act as if he owns the entire business, looking at the future profit stream and deciding what it’s worth. And you have to be willing to ignore the market rather than follow it, because you want to take advantage of the market’s mistakes—the companies that have been underpriced.
I have to admit, when I first met Warren, the fact that he had this framework was a real surprise to me. I met him at a dinner my mother had put together. On my way there, I thought, “Why would I want to meet this guy who picks stocks?” I thought he just used various market-related things—like volume, or how the price had changed over time—to make his decisions. But when we started talking that day, he didn’t ask me about any of those things. Instead he started asking big questions about the fundamentals of our business. “Why can’t IBM do what Microsoft does? Why has Microsoft been so profitable?” That’s when I realized he thought about business in a much more profound way than I’d given him credit for.
2. Use your platform.
A lot of business leaders write letters to their shareholders, but Warren is justly famous for his. Partly that’s because his natural good humor shines through. Partly it’s because people think it will help them invest better (and they’re right). But it’s also because he’s been willing to speak frankly and criticize things like stock options and financial derivatives. He’s not afraid to take positions, like his stand on raising taxes on the rich, that run counter to his self-interest. Warren inspired me to start writing my own annual letter about the foundation’s work. I still have a ways to go before mine is as good as Warren’s, but it’s been helpful to sit down once a year and explain the results we’re seeing, both good and bad.
3. Know how valuable your time is.
No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time. There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day. Warren has a keen sense of this. He doesn’t let his calendar get filled up with useless meetings. On the other hand, he’s very generous with his time for the people he trusts. He gives his close advisers at Berkshire his phone number, and they can just call him up and he’ll answer the phone.
Although Warren makes a point of meeting with dozens of university classes every year, not many people get to ask him for advice on a regular basis. I feel very lucky in that regard: The dialogue has been invaluable to me, and not only at Microsoft. When Melinda and I started our foundation, I turned to him for advice. We talked a lot about the idea that philanthropy could be just as impactful in its own way as software had been. It turns out that Warren’s brilliant way of looking at the world is just as useful in attacking poverty and disease as it is in building a business. He’s one of a kind.
Photo: Bill Gates
10 Things To Do Every Workday:
I’ve always been focused on performance. I’m a list person. I love the feeling of crossing things off. It makes me feel productive. Plus, consistent productivity has the wonderful byproduct of accomplishing more. Jeff Haden’s recent article on Linkedin summarizes the value of having a daily to-do list beautifully: You don’t wait to do the work until you get the dream job – you do the work in order to get the dream job.
I’ve never shared this list with anyone until now.
It’s the list of ten things I try to do every workday. Yes, there are days when I don’t get them all done, but I do my best to deliver. It has proven very effective for me. They are:
- Read something related to my industry.
- Read something related to business development.
- Send two emails to touch base with old colleagues.
- Empty my private client inbox by responding to all career coaching questions within one business day.
- Check in with each team member on their progress.
- Have a short non-work related conversation with every employee.
- Review my top three goals for my company that are focused on its growth.
- Identify and execute one task to support each of my top three goals.
- Post five valuable pieces of content on all my major social media accounts.
- Take a full minute to appreciate what I have and how far I’ve come.
This list could be longer. BUT…
If it was longer, I wouldn’t be as good at getting them all done. This list is manageable to me. Of course, I do more than these ten things every day. But, these are the ten I choose to do with consistency. Why? Over the years, they’ve proven the best way for me to grow my career and my business. The collective results have made completing these tasks consistently; even when I don’t feel like it, well worth it.
Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself:
Picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” she asks.
“I’m an architect,” you say.
“Oh, really?” she answers. “Have you designed any buildings I’ve seen?”
“Possibly,” you reply. “We did the new student center at the university…”
“Oh wow,” she says. “That’s a beautiful building…”
Without trying — without blowing your own horn — you’ve made a great impression.
Now picture this. You meet someone new. “What do you do?” he asks.
“I’m a passionate, innovative, dynamic provider of architectural services with a collaborative approach to creating and delivering outstanding world-class client and user experiences.”
All righty then.
Do you describe yourself differently – on your website, promotional materials, or especially on social media – than you do in person? Do you use cheesy clichés and overblown superlatives and breathless adjectives?
Do you write things about yourself you would never have the nerve to actually say?
Here are some words that are great when other people use them to describe you – but you should never use to describe yourself:
1. “Innovative.” Most companies claim to be innovative. Most people claim to be innovative. Most are, however, not. (I’m definitely not.) That’s okay, because innovation isn’t a requirement for success.
If you are innovative, don’t say it. Prove it. Describe the products you’ve developed. Describe the processes you’ve modified.
Give us something real so your innovation is unspoken but evident… which is always the best kind of innovative to be.
2. “World-class.” Usain Bolt: world-class sprinter, Olympic medals to prove it. Lionel Messi: world-class soccer (I know, football) player, four Ballon d’Or trophies to prove it.
But what is a world-class professional or company? Who defines world-class? In your case, probably just you.
3. “Authority.” Like Margaret Thatcher said, “Power is like being a lady; if you have to say you are, you aren’t.” Show your expertise instead.
“Presented at TEDxEast ” or “Predicted 50 out of 50 states in 2012 election” (Hi Nate!) indicates a level of authority. Unless you can prove it, “social media marketing authority” might simply mean you spend way too much time worrying about your Klout score.
4. “Results oriented.” Really? Some people actually focus on doing what they are paid to do? We had no idea.
5. “Global provider.” The majority of businesses can sell goods or services worldwide; the ones that can’t are fairly obvious.
Only use “global provider” if that capability is not assumed or obvious; otherwise you just sound like a small company trying to appear big.
6. “Motivated.” Check out Chris Rock’s response (not safe for work or the politically correct) to people who say they take care of their kids. Then substitute words like “motivated.”
Never take credit for things you are supposed to do – or supposed to be.
7. “Creative.” See particular words often enough and they no longer make an impact. “Creative” is one of them. (Use finding “creative” references in random LinkedIn profiles as a drinking game and everyone will lose — or win, depending on your perspective.)
“Creative” is just one example. Others include extensive, effective, proven, influential, team player… some of those terms may truly describe you, but since they are also being used to describe everyone they’ve lost their impact.
8. “Dynamic.” If you are “vigorously active and forceful,” um, stay away.
9. “Guru.” People who try to be clever for the sake of being clever are anything but. (Like in #8.) Don’t be a self-proclaimed ninja, sage, connoisseur, guerilla, wonk, egghead… it’s awesome when your customers affectionately describe you that way.
Refer to yourself that way and it’s obvious you’re trying way too hard to impress other people – or yourself.
10. “Curator.” Museums have curators. Libraries have curators. Tweeting links to stuff you find interesting doesn’t make you a curator… or an authority or a guru.
11. “Passionate.” I know many people disagree, but if you say you’re incredibly passionate about, oh, incorporating elegant design aesthetics into everyday objects, to me you sound over the top.
The same is true if you’re passionate about developing long-term customer solutions. Try the words focus, concentration, or specialization instead.
Or try “love,” as in, “I love incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects.” For whatever reason, that works for me. Passion doesn’t. (But maybe that’s just me.)
12. “Unique.” Fingerprints are unique. Snowflakes are unique. You are unique – but your business probably isn’t. That’s fine, because customers don’t care about unique; they care about “better.”
Show you’re better than the competition and in the minds of your customers you will be unique.
13. “Incredibly…” Check out some random bios and you’ll find plenty of further-modified descriptors: “Incredibly passionate,” “profoundly insightful,” “extremely captivating…” isn’t it enough to be insightful or captivating? Do you have to be profoundly insightful?
If you must use over-the-top adjectives, spare us the further modification. Trust that we already get it.
14. “Serial entrepreneur.” A few people start multiple, successful, long-term businesses. They are successful serial entrepreneurs.
The rest of us start one business that fails or does okay, try something else, try something else, and keep on rinsing and repeating until we find a formula that works. Those people are entrepreneurs. Be proud if you’re “just” an entrepreneur. You should be.
15. “Strategist.” I sometimes help manufacturing plants improve productivity and quality. There are strategies I use to identify areas for improvement but I’m in no way a strategist. Strategists look at the present, envision something new, and develop approaches to make their vision a reality.
I don’t create something new; I apply my experience and a few proven methodologies to make improvements.
Very few people are strategists. Most “strategists” are actually coaches, specialists, or consultants who use what they know to help others. 99% of the time that’s what customers need – they don’t need or even want a strategist.
16. “Collaborative.” You won’t just decide what’s right for me and force me to buy it?
If your process is designed to take my input and feedback, tell me how that works. Describe the process. Don’t claim we’ll work together — describe how we’ll work together.
The One Thing Successful People Never Do:
Success comes in all shapes and colours. You can be successful in your job and career but you can equally be successful in your marriage, at sports or a hobby. Whatever success you are after there is one thing all radically successful people have in common: Their ferocious drive and hunger for success makes them never give up.
Successful people (or the people talking or writing about them) often paint a picture of the perfect ascent to success. In fact, some of the most successful people in business, entertainment and sport have failed. Many have failed numerous times but they have never given up. Successful people are able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on trying.
I have collected some examples that should be an inspiration to anyone who aspires to be successful. They show that if you want to succeed you should expect failure along the way. I actually believe that failure can spur you on and make you try even harder. You could argue that every experience of failure increases the hunger for success. The truly successful won’t be beaten, they take responsibility for failure, learn from it and start all over from a stronger position.
Let’s look at some examples, including some of my fellow LinkedIn influencers:
Henry Ford – the pioneer of modern business entrepreneurs and the founder of the Ford Motor Company failed a number of times on his route to success. His first venture to build a motor car got dissolved a year and a half after it was started because the stockholders lost confidence in Henry Ford. Ford was able to gather enough capital to start again but a year later pressure from the financiers forced him out of the company again. Despite the fact that the entire motor industry had lost faith in him he managed to find another investor to start the Ford Motor Company – and the rest is history.
Walt Disney – one of the greatest business leaders who created the global Disney empire of film studios, theme parks and consumer products didn’t start off successful. Before the great success came a number of failures. Believe it or not, Walt was fired from an early job at the Kansas City Star Newspaper because he was not creative enough! In 1922 he started his first company called Laugh-O-Gram. The Kansas based business would produce cartoons and short advertising films. In 1923, the business went bankrupt. Walt didn’t give up, he packed up, went to Hollywood and started The Walt Disney Company.
Richard Branson – He is undoubtedly a successful entrepreneur with many successful ventures to his name including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Music and Virgin Active. However, when he was 16 he dropped out of school to start a student magazine that didn’t do as well as he hoped. He then set up a mail-order record business which did so well that he opened his own record shop called Virgin. Along the way to success came many other failed ventures including Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Clothes, Virgin Vie, Virgin cards, etc.
Oprah Winfrey – who ranks No 1 in the Forbes celebrity list and is recognised as the queen of entertainment based on an amazing career as iconic talk show host, media proprietor, actress and producer. In her earlier career she had numerous set-backs, which included getting fired from her job as a reporter because she was ‘unfit for television’, getting fired as co-anchor for the 6 O’clock weekday news on WJZ-TV and being demoted to morning TV.
J.K. Rowling – who wrote the Harry Potter books selling over 400 million copies and making it one of the most successful and lucrative book and film series ever. However, like so many writers she received endless rejections from publishers. Many rejected her manuscript outright for reasons like ‘it was far too long for a children’s book’ or because ‘children books never make any money’. J.K. Rowling’s story is even more inspiring because when she started she was a divorced single mum on welfare.
Bill Gates -co-founder and chairman of Microsoft set up a business called Traf-O-Data. The partnership between him, Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert was based on a good idea (to read data from roadway traffic counters and create automated reports on traffic flows) but a flawed business model that left the company with few customers. The company ran up losses between 1974 and 1980 before it was closed. However, Bill Gates and Paul Allen took what they learned and avoided those mistakes when they created the Microsoft empire.
History is littered with many more similar examples:
- Milton Hershey failed in his first two attempts to set up a confectionary business.
- H.J. Heinz set up a company that produced horseradish, which went bankrupt shortly after.
- Steve Jobs got fired from Apple, the company he founded. Only to return a few years later to turn it into one of the most successful companies ever.
So, the one thing successful people never do is: Give up! I hope that this is inspiration and motivation for everyone who aspires to be successful in whatever way they chose. Do you agree or disagree with me? Are there other things you would add to the list of things successful people never do? Please share your thoughts..
9 Qualities Of Truly Confident People:
First things first: Confidence is not bravado, or swagger, or an overt pretense of bravery. Confidence is not some bold or brash air of self-belief directed at others.
Confidence is quiet: It’s a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.
I’m fortunate to know a number of truly confident people. Many work with me at HubSpot, others are fellow founders of their own startups some of whom I’ve met through my angel investment activity. But the majority are people I’ve met through my career and who work in a variety of industries and professions.
It comes as no surprise they all share a number of qualities:
1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right… but because they are not afraid to be wrong.
Cocky and conceited people tend to take a position and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They know they’re right – and they want (actually they need) you to know it too.
Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the hallmark of an intellectual bully.
Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. They feel finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously.
Truly confident people often admit they’re wrong or don’t have all the answers; intellectual bullies never do.
2. They listen ten times more than they speak.
Bragging is a mask for insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.
So they ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.
Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.
3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others.
Perhaps it’s true they did the bulk of the work. Perhaps they really did overcome the major obstacles. Perhaps it’s true they turned a collection of disparate individuals into an incredibly high performance team.
Truly confident people don’t care – at least they don’t show it. (Inside they’re proud, as well they should be.) Truly confident people don’t need the glory; they know what they’ve achieved.
They don’t need the validation of others, because true validation comes from within.
So they stand back and celebrate their accomplishments through others. They stand back and let others shine – a confidence boost that helps those people become truly confident, too.
4. They freely ask for help.
Many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness; implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.
Confident people are secure enough to admit a weakness. So they often ask others for help, not only because they are secure enough to admit they need help but also because they know that when they seek help they pay the person they ask a huge compliment.
Saying, “Can you help me?” shows tremendous respect for that individual’s expertise and judgment. Otherwise you wouldn’t ask.
5. They think, “Why not me?”
Many people feel they have to wait: To be promoted, to be hired, to be selected, to be chosen… like the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow be discovered.
Truly confident people know that access is almost universal. They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products, build their own relationships and networks, choose their own path – they can choose to follow whatever course they wish.
And very quietly, without calling attention to themselves, they go out and do it.
6. They don’t put down other people.
Generally speaking, the people who like to gossip, who like to speak badly of others, do so because they hope by comparison to make themselves look better.
The only comparison a truly confident person makes is to the person she was yesterday – and to the person she hopes to someday become.
7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…
Running around in your underwear is certainly taking it to extremes… but when you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally being in a situation where you aren’t at your best.
(And oddly enough, people tend to respect you more when you do – not less.)
8. … And they own their mistakes.
Insecurity tends to breed artificiality; confidence breeds sincerity and honesty.
That’s why truly confident people admit their mistakes. They dine out on their screw-ups. They don’t mind serving as a cautionary tale. They don’t mind being a source of laughter – for others and for themselves.
When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” You realize that that when you’re genuine and unpretentious, people don’t laugh at you.
They laugh with you.
9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter.
You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. 20k Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great.
But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter.
When we earn their trust and respect, no matter where we go or what we try, we do it with true confidence – because we know the people who truly matter the most are truly behind us.
How I Hire: Focus On Personality:
There is nothing more important for a business than hiring the right team. If you get the perfect mix of people working for your company, you have a far greater chance of success. However, the best person for the job doesn’t always walk right through your door.
The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring and love helping others, you are on to a winner.
Personality is the key. It is not something that always comes out in interview – people can be shy. But you have to trust your judgement. If you have got a slightly introverted person with a great personality, use your experience to pull it out of them. It is easier with an extrovert, but be wary of people becoming overexcited in the pressure of interviews.
You can learn most jobs extremely quickly once you are thrown in the deep end. Within three months you can usually know the ins and outs of a role. If you are satisfied with the personality, then look at experience and expertise. Find people with transferable skills – you need team players who can pitch in and try their hand at all sorts of different jobs. While specialists are sometimes necessary, versatility should not be underestimated.
Some managers get hung up on qualifications. I only look at them after everything else. If somebody has five degrees and more A grades than you can fit on one side of paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right person for the job. Great grades count for nothing if they aren’t partnered with broad-ranging experience and a winning personality.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take risks when building your team. Don’t be afraid of hiring mavericks. Somebody who thinks a little differently can help to see problems as opportunities and inspire creative energy within a group. Some of the best people we’ve ever hired didn’t seem to fit in at first, but proved to be indispensable over time.
If you hire the wrong person at the top of a company, they can destroy it in no time at all. Promoting from within is generally a good idea as the employee who is promoted will be inspired by the new role, already know the business inside out, and have the trust and respect of their team.
Equally, bringing in fresh blood can reinvigorate a company. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia recently brought in CEOs from outside – John Borghetti at Virgin Australia and Craig Kreeger at Virgin Atlantic. They have brought a lot of fresh ideas into the company, as well as experience of what the competition is doing well and what they are doing badly.
When companies go through growth spurts, they often hire in bulk and company culture can suffer. While it may seem a desperate rush to get somebody through the door to help carry the load, it is worth being patient to find the right person, rather than hurrying and unbalancing your team. I heard a great line by Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai at the IoD Conference in London (quoting Apple’s Dan Jacobs) about making sure you hire (and fire) the right people: “It’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team!”
Photo Courtesy virgin.com
The 3 Questions People Always Forget to Ask in an Interview:
Getting an interview for that dream job is a perfect chance to sell yourself and you need to make sure that you get everything right.
Preparation is vital and it goes without saying that you should turn up for the interview knowing everything there is to know about your prospective employers and the role that you have applied for.
Of course, no two interviews are ever the same and the line of questions that you take will be determined by the nature of the company and the people who are interviewing you.
But I have always been more impressed by candidates who ask ME questions. The process should never be one sided – you need to take control. The best way of doing this is to ask as many questions as the interviewer does.
There are at least three questions you should definitely have ready to ask for every job interview you go for. Remember the aim is to sell yourself as a bright, motivated and ambitious individual but it is important not to be too obvious. The people who are interviewing you will have heard it all before and they will be looking for someone who has that little bit extra quality or personality which sets them apart from the rest of the crowd.
Here are three questions that you should always try and ask:
What qualities are you looking for in the person you are hoping to appoint?
This may sound like a very obvious starting point but it is vital for both parties to grasp exactly what it is needed from candidate in terms of skills and experience. Remember the whole point of the interview is to prove you are the person that they want and are looking for. There is a much better chance of being able to do that if you actually ask the interviewers straight from the start what their ideal candidate would be.
What scope is there for personal development at your company?
It is important to show any prospective employee that you are the type of person who is ambitious and is looking to move their career forward. No one wants to take on an individual who is going to be content to coast and you need to show that you are not coming along just for an easy ride. Any ambitious and forward thinking company will be looking for like minded individuals. Ask a question which will give you give the chance to show just how driven you are.
Is there anything you have seen in the other people on the shortlist that you have not seen in me?
This is a great question to throw into the mix as the interview is drawing to a natural close. I remember a candidate asking me this once and I had to smile because it left me with nowhere to go. As well as turning the tables on the panel it is also a great way of gauging just how well or how badly you have performed throughout the course of the selection process. You should always be looking to improve and getting feedback from an interviewer is a crucial part of this. It is a risky strategy to take because you might get an answer you are not happy with. But if you are prepared to take a risk, then this final question is a gamble that just might pay off.
The Most Important Interview Question of All Time – Part 1:
Over the past 30+ years as a recruiter, I can confirm that at least two-thirds of my hiring manager clients weren’t very good at interviewing. Yet, over 90% thought they were. To overcome this situation, it was critical that I became a better interviewer than them, to prove with evidence that the candidate was competent and motivated to do the work required. This led me on a quest for the single best interview question that would allow me to overcome any incorrect assessment with actual evidence.
It took about 10 years of trial and error. Then I finally hit upon one question that did it all.
Here’s it is:
What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?
To see why this simple question is so powerful, imagine you’re the candidate and I’ve just asked you this question. What accomplishment would you select? Then imagine over the course of the next 15-20 minutes I dug deeper and asked you about the following. How would you respond?
- Can you give me a detailed overview of the accomplishment?
- Tell me about the company, your title, your position, your role, and the team involved.
- What were the actual results achieved?
- When did it take place and how long did the project take.
- Why you were chosen?
- What were the 3-4 biggest challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
- Where did you go the extra mile or take the initiative?
- Walk me through the plan, how you managed to it, and if it was successful.
- Describe the environment and resources.
- Describe your manager’s style and whether you liked it or not.
- Describe the technical skills needed to accomplish the objective and how they were used.
- Some of the biggest mistakes you made.
- Aspects of the project you truly enjoyed.
- Aspects you didn’t especially care about and how you handled them.
- How you managed and influenced others, with lots of examples.
- How you were managed, coached, and influenced by others, with lots of examples.
- How you changed and grew as a person.
- What you would do differently if you could do it again.
- What type of formal recognition did you receive?
If the accomplishment was comparable to a real job requirement, and if the answer was detailed enough to take 15-20 minutes to complete, consider how much an interviewer would know about your ability to handle the job. The insight gained from this type of question would be remarkable. But the real issue is not the question, this is just a setup. The details underlying the accomplishment are what’s most important. This is what real interviewing is about – getting into the details and comparing what the candidate has accomplished in comparison to what needs to be accomplished. Don’t waste time asking a lot of clever questions during the interview, or box checking their skills and experiences: spend time learning to get the answer to just this one question.
As you’ll discover you’ll then have all of the information to prove to other interviewers that their assessments were biased, superficial, emotional, too technical, intuitive or based on whether they liked the candidate or not. Getting the answer to this one question is all it takes.
The Number One Job Skill in 2020:
What’s the crucial career strength that employers everywhere are seeking — even though hardly anyone is talking about it? A great way to find out is by studying this list of fast-growing occupations, as compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sports coaches and fitness trainers. Massage therapists, registered nurses and physical therapists. School psychologists, music tutors, preschool teachers and speech-language pathologists. Personal financial planners, chauffeurs and private detectives. These are among the fields expected to employ at least 20% more people in the U.S. by 2020.
Did you notice the common thread? Every one of these jobs is all about empathy.
In our fast-paced digital world, there’s lots of hand-wringing about the ways that automation and computer technology are taking away the kinds of jobs that kept our parents and grandparents employed. Walk through a modern factory, and you’ll be stunned by how few humans are needed to tend the machines. Similarly, travel agents, video editors and many other white-collar employees have been pushed to the sidelines by the digital revolution’s faster and cheaper methods.
But there’s no substitute for the magic of a face-to-face interaction with someone else who cares. Even the most ingenious machine-based attempts to mimic human conversation (hello, Siri) can’t match the emotional richness of a real conversation with a real person.
Visit a health club, and you’ll see the best personal trainers don’t just march their clients through a preset run of exercises. They chat about the stresses and rewards of getting back in shape. They tease, they flatter — maybe they even flirt a little. They connect with their clients in a way that builds people’s motivation. Before long, clients keep coming back to the gym because they want to spend time with a friend, and to do something extra to win his or her respect.
It’s the same story in health care or education. Technology can monitor an adult’s glucose levels or a young child’s counting skills quite precisely. Data by itself, though, is just a tool. The real magic happens when a borderline diabetic or a shy preschooler develops enough faith and trust in another person to embark on a new path. What the BLS data tells us is that even in a rapidly automating world, we can’t automate empathy.
Last week, when the BLS reported that the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May, analysts noted that one of the labor market’s bright spots involved restaurants and bars. Waiters, cooks and bartenders accounted for a full 16% of the month’s job growth. As the Washington Post’s Neil Irwin put it, “A robot may be able to assemble a car, but a cook still grills burgers.”
Actually, it’s the people in the front of the restaurant — and behind the bar — that should command our attention. The more time we spend in the efficient but somewhat soulless world of digital connectivity, the more we will cherish a little banter with wait-staff and bartenders who know us by name. We will pay extra to mingle with other people who can keep the timeless art of conversation alive
On GPAs and Brainteasers: New Insights From Google On Recruiting and Hiring:
“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”
That was just one of the many fascinating revelations that Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations, shared with me in an interview that was part of the New York Times’ special section on Big Data published Thursday.
Bock’s insights are particularly valuable because Google focuses its data-centric approach internally, not just on the outside world. It collects and analyzes a tremendous amount of information from employees (people generally participate anonymously or confidentially), and often tackles big questions such as, “What are the qualities of an effective manager?” That was question at the core of its Project Oxygen, which I wrote about for the Times in 2011.
I asked Bock in our recent conversation about other revelations about leadership and management that had emerged from its research.
The full interview is definitely worth your time, but here are some of the highlights:
The ability to hire well is random. “Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring,” Bock said. “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess, except for one guy who was highly predictive because he only interviewed people for a very specialized area, where he happened to be the world’s leading expert.”
Forget brain-teasers. Focus on behavioral questions in interviews, rather than hypotheticals. Bock said it’s better to use questions like, “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.” He added: “The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information. One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”
Consistency matters for leaders. “It’s important that people know you are consistent and fair in how you think about making decisions and that there’s an element of predictability. If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom, because then they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want. If your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive.
GPAs don’t predict anything about who is going to be a successful employee. “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything. What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”
That was a pretty remarkable insight, and I asked Bock to elaborate.
“After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different,” he said. “You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently. Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.”