Catch Your Unicorn, Silly Goose, and Take Flight!

OK, that’s by far the worst headline I’ve posted based on SEO rankings but it’s also by far the most fun!  Catch your unicorn, silly goose and take flight!  That’s just FUN to say.  AND it has a significant meaning. Bear with me for a minute while I explain!

 

Unicorns are magical.

I think (hope) we can all agree on that!

 

But there is also some pretty inspirational symbolism associated with unicorns.

 

Unicorn Symbolism

Some symbolism gurus say that unicorns are masters of transformation giving us the power to believe anything is possible.

Some say that the meaning of the unicorn is all about opening our minds to limitless opportunities and giving us the ability to ‘see’ those possibilities as real viable options.

It is also said that along with the ability to see potential possibilities, the unicorn instills in us the wisdom to grab the opportunities that present themselves to us.

There are resources that say that spiritually, the unicorn signifies success. Perhaps the sparkle dust that is often seen floating around unicorns contains magic that helps us be successful in anything we may pursue.

 

Wow. No wonder little children – and some big ones – love unicorns!

They really are magical!

 

Now, it is not my intention to try to talk you into believing in unicorns; not in the literal sense anyway.

I know that’s surprising given that I am a self-professed literal thinker. But for this post, allow me to be less literal and more metaphorical if you don’t mind.

 

Read the representations again:

  • Master of transformation
  • The power to believe anything is possible
  • Open to limitless opportunities
  • The ability to ‘see’ those possibilities as real viable options
  • The wisdom to grab the opportunities that present themselves to us
  • Success

 

Good grief!  I think we could all use some unicorns in our lives!!

What does your unicorn look like?

Your unicorn may be different.  Your unicorn could be your faith in a higher power. It could be the soul fire that gets lit when you are doing work that you love. Perhaps is it the feeling that surrounds you when you’re in your happy place. Your unicorn may be someone special in your life.

In other words, not everyone’s ‘unicorn’ is a unicorn. But everyone should have something that symbolizes what a unicorn does to some.

 

All of us should have some force in our life that pushes us to transform into a better version of ourselves, to believe that anything is possible. A power that pries open our minds so that we are open to the endless possibilities that come our way, and that helps us BELIEVE that those possibilities can become reality for us.  An influence that shoves the wisdom into our soul that moves us to grab the opportunities we might otherwise shy away from; that propels us to higher levels of success.

Find YOUR unicorn. Find it. You must. yourlifeenhanced.net

Find YOUR unicorn. Find it. You must.

 

For me, it’s my life vision that serves as my unicorn. It’s my deep desire to live a life fully aligned with why I’m here on earth –  my purpose.

And since finding my unicorn (my life purpose), I’ve achieved things I never thought was possible before. I’m living a better life, a more fulfilled life, and I’m a better version of myself that I was a few years ago. A MUCH better version.

 

So, silly goose, find YOUR unicorn. Catch it, harness its magic, and take flight!! There is no limit to where it can take you!

 

Do you have a unicorn?Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

Life. Enhanced. and its Parent Company, Enhancement Talent Development, LLC, may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.

3 Things You Need to Know About Literal Thinkers

3 Things You Need to Know About Literal Thinkers yourlifeenhanced.net

Literal thinkers are those of us who interpret what others say based on the actual meaning of the terms used. Literal thinkers focus on the exact meaning of words and often find it difficult to interpret a less factual or more metaphoric meaning. Being a literal thinker myself, I struggle with communicating with those who aren’t literal in their thinking. If you work or live with a literal thinker and aren’t one yourself, you have likely experienced frustration when communicating with them.  Perhaps this will help.  Here are 3 things you need to know about literal thinkers.

 

Before I start the list of 3 things, let me explain a bit more and share some examples of what literal thinking is.

Literal thinking is often associated with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Those who deal with those conditions are often very literal and have a very difficult time understanding figurative speech.

That’s NOT what this post is about.  This post is about ordinary people who simply think more literally than others.

Let’s say someone says something to you that you find unbelievable or incredulous. You respond by saying, ‘get out of here!’ as a way to demonstrate how you feel.  When the literal thinker hears that response, their life experience likely knows that it is just an expression, but their mind starts thinking about where to find the exit.

 

We  – the literal thinkers – know that there are hidden meanings in sayings like ‘you made your bed, now lie in it’ or ‘my eyes were bigger than my stomach’ or ‘whatever floats your boat.’

And we draw on our knowledge and experience when we hear those things and usually respond based on the figurative meaning of those sayings.

 

BUT…. Our mind can sometimes take a little longer to get to the figurative meaning because it has to sift through the literal meaning first.

I remember…

The first time someone told me to go fly a kite.  It was said by an older classmate because I was annoying her. I can remember just standing there for a minute thinking ‘we’re at school; I can’t fly a kite now!’

Most literal thinkers learn fairly early on how to layer the figurative meaning of what others say with the literal meaning but it can still be frustrating for all involved.

 

So here they are – 3 things you should know about literal thinkers to help communicate more effectively with them.

#1

Not everyone thinks the same way – not even you! Literal thinkers aren’t always aware of how they think – and it’s not like they are making a conscious effort to think literally. It just happens. Just like the way you think is just the way you think – not something you do on purpose.

#2

If you use a figure of speech, your message may become diluted when it’s interpreted by the literal thinker. Literal thinkers often miss gradations and subtleties in what they hear. Using euphemisms, unexplained metaphors, or sarcasm can delay the literal listener’s understanding of what you are trying to convey.

#3

When literal thinkers are aware of how they think – i.e. they KNOW they are literal thinkers – they may ask more questions to clarify your communication. Be prepared for that and be patient.  This doesn’t mean that the literal thinker isn’t intelligent. Many are extremely intelligent. And since they are aware of how they think, they are smart enough to know they may need clarification.

Life. Enhanced. and its Parent Company, Enhancement Talent Development, LLC, may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.


Are you a literal thinker? How do you manage your literal thinking?Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

STOP with the Generational Crap!

Seriously.  Why are we still talking about the different generations and how each one has its own idiosyncrasies?  It seems to be all some people want to talk about. If you google ‘dealing with different generations in the workplace,’ you’ll get 25 million results. TWENTY-FIVE MILLION. That’s insane! STOP with the generational crap.

I’m just as guilty as anyone.  I’ve had generational topics on my available session list for 4 years now.  But NOT ANYMORE.

Why?stop with the generational crap yourlifeenhanced.net

Because there are many more important things we need to talk about and time spent stereotyping people based on generational assumptions is not time well spent.

Think about it.

 

There are tons of articles, blog posts, and podcasts that talk about Baby Boomers being workaholics who are more committed to their job than their families. They are supposedly resistant to change, are highly competitive, and struggle to keep up with new technology.

That may be true for some, but certainly not all.  I’m a baby boomer and while I was once a workaholic, I’m not anymore. Family first. Always. I am a little competitive but not overly so.  And I LOVE change.

And I’m not alone. Many of my peers are Baby Boomers, too, and they don’t fit the ‘profile’ either.

 

Generation Xers are supposedly very adept at managing work-life balance but I know plenty of Gen X folks who are HUGE workaholics.  They are thought of as being resistant to organizational hierarchy and demanding of autonomy, but there are tons of Gen Xers that understand the need for chain-of-command protocol and need guidance and direction in their work environment.

 

And don’t even get me started on Millennials.  These poor people have gotten a terrible wrap.  People say millennials are extremely independent workers who aren’t interested in teamwork; they are impatient and entitled and resistant to feedback and coaching; they want to create their own processes versus following established SOPs.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Whatever.

I’m tired of hearing it and I’m betting most millennials are, too!

 

Some of them do act entitled, but so do some Gen Xers and some Baby Boomers.  There are millennials who’d prefer to work independently, but so would some people in other generations.  Some of them are impatient, but hey, so am I!

 

You see where I’m going here?

By constantly talking about the characteristics of each generation, I believe we simply giving the people permission to exhibit those characteristics.  And I’m not alone in that thinking.

Think about this.  If you are constantly told that you are a workaholic, you either work to change how you are perceived or you start owning the workaholic status.  And most people don’t want to do the work so they own it.  If we’re talking about millennials being impatient and entitled, it stands to reason that most of them will act that way.

So, let’s STOP with the generational crap!  Let’s focus on individuals instead.  Let’s see each person on other own with their own unique strengths and characteristics and stop putting people in buckets.

When we do that – put people in generational buckets – that’s stereotyping and profiling. And neither of those things are good.  We’re making assumptions based on when someone was born and what generation they belong to and that’s bullshit!  It feels so close to the discrimination challenges that we are so defensive about.

We aren’t doing anyone any favors and there are more important things to talk about.

What do you think? Do you fit the profile for your generation? Share! Please! Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

Perception is Reality: Personal Image and Brand

I’ve always known that image is important in all aspects of our world, especially in the business world. Perception is reality when it pertains to personal image and brand.

As I set out to start my own business a few years ago, I knew that my image would be critical to my success, or lack thereof and that I had to focus my energy on making sure I was presenting the image I wanted to present.  So I set out to investigate, observe, research, and interview leaders to ensure that I was projecting the right image to help make my company successful.  In this post, I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned with you!

 

What we mean by image:

 

Your professional image is what people see when you are around. And what they think about what they see.  It’s more than just what you’re wearing. It’s how you carry yourself, your facial expressions, your style.

 

Is that different from personal brand?

Image is the visual package. A brand is what you represent. Personal branding is how you convey the experience you provide, what you stand for, and how you communicate your beliefs. Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.

 

When it comes to your personal brand and your image — it’s not about how you view yourself. What matters is how the world sees you.

 

Listen to what the outside world is telling you because they’re probably right.

 

Garrett’s Story.

 

Meeting Garrett is like meeting wallpaper.  He seems to fade into the background. He was clearly very intelligent but couldn’t chit-chat to save his life.  Every conversation seemed to gravitate to some numerical concept or a financial topic.

 

A few years into working with Garrett, our leadership team went through a 360 Review process, where we got feedback from all sides: direct reports, peers, supervisors and external colleagues.

 

We all gathered for a workshop on how to interpret our results, and during that workshop, Garrett had what I call a ‘moment.’  He was reviewing his results and was clearly getting agitated.

 

Suddenly, he burst out ‘I AM a people person! I AM! I know I am!’

 

Unfortunately, the rest of us in the room couldn’t help but laugh.  Garrett was far from a people person.  He was a numbers guy.  He was the one who would spend hours talking about how to save two dollars on an appliance. Or why the budget numbers were off by fifteen cents.  He had a spreadsheet for everything and most of them were so complicated that even he couldn’t explain them.  That’s who Garrett was to us.  NOT a people person.  Definitely not a people person!

 

You see, Garrett’s problem was he wasn’t paying attention to what the outside world was telling him about himself and their perception of him.

if one person calls you a donkey yourlifeenhanced.net

 

We simply must be aware of how we are perceived. If one person calls you a donkey, get a second opinion. If two people call you a donkey, look in the mirror. And if three people call you a donkey, get a saddle.

 

How can we know how we are perceived?

You can never know exactly what all of your key constituents think about you, or how they would describe you when you aren’t in the room.

But here are a few things you can do to gain insight into how you are perceived:

Watch for indirect signals about your image.

Watch for indirect signals about your image, through job assignments or referrals and recommendations. Taken together, these direct and indirect signals can provide insight into how others perceive you.  Garrett, for example, was frequently sought out when someone had a financial issue.  He was never sought out to help with personnel issues or team challenges.  That was a big clue that Garrett missed.

 

Seek out patterns in your paper trail.

If you have access to copies of past performance reviews, recommendations letters that others have written for you, employee surveys, etc. you can scour the written record for patterns. Read them with a new set of eyes. Look for trends: which words or themes are repeated from year to year?  If you see multiple mentions of a particular skill set (“Lisa is a brilliant public speaker”) or shortcoming (“Martin has a hard time accepting feedback”), you should take heed.  But take heed of both positive areas and areas of opportunities.

 

Conduct your own “360 interviews.”

This is the first step most executive or life coaches would take — but most of us don’t have a coach.   But you can do it for yourself. Get feedback from a variety of people you trust who have different relationships with you – friends, family, colleagues, managers, employees, networking contacts, mentors, your coach, etc. Invite trusted colleagues, your boss, and your employees out for coffee, tell them you’re working to raise the bar professionally, and ask for their unfiltered feedback: What do like best about working with me? If you could change 1 thing about me, what would it be? What do I do that drives you crazy?  Their responses may be hard to hear but summon up the courage to listen, really listen, and accept that the feedback is true, whether you want to believe it or not.

Get feedback from a variety of people you trust who have different relationships with you – friends, family, colleagues, managers, employees, networking contacts, mentors, your coach, etc. Invite trusted colleagues, your boss, and your employees out for coffee, tell them you’re working to raise the bar professionally, and ask for their unfiltered feedback:

What do you like best about working with me? If you could change 1 thing about me, what would it be? What do I do that drives you crazy?

Their responses may be hard to hear but summon up the courage to listen, really listen, and accept that the feedback is true, whether you want to believe it or not.

 

You may prefer to conduct a do-it-yourself anonymous 360. There are many survey tools available to help you get you the feedback you need.

Survey Monkey, Kwiksurvey, Survey Planet are just a few.  Many have 30-day free trial periods.

 

Seeking feedback can also be validating.

When feedback reinforces what you know about your brand, about who you are, you can further deliver these strengths. When you see yourself as organized and analytical, and others confirm this, you truly own it.

 

Listen.

When people introduce you, what words do they use? Do various people use the same words to describe you? A client of mine found that people often introduce him as “the fixer.” People would say things like, “This is a guy who never met a problem he couldn’t solve,” or “When everybody else is running away from a big mess, he jumps in to clean it up.” Or if there are frequent ‘jokes’ about something that is not altogether positive, like “she might be the last one to get to work, but she’s there every day” or “watch out for this one; she’ll redline a sticky note.”

 

Watch out for Blind Spots.

Blind spots are those things you’re communicating without even realizing it. I had a client whose way of processing information was to lean back in his chair and disengage, ruminating for a period of time. What he didn’t know is that people thought he was disinterested and rude. They didn’t realize that this was his way of being connected to what was happening. When he learned of these external perceptions, he decided not to change the way he processes information, but to accompany it with clarifying communication. He would say something like, “That brings up a lot of different potential solutions. Let me collect my thoughts and send you an email with my recommendations.”

Blind spots can work in reverse too. Maybe others recognize something positive in you that you don’t see for yourself. For example, I recently worked with someone in a workshop whose feedback showed she was funny, humorous, and witty. And when she dug deeper, she learned that these perceptions were seen as one of her greatest strengths. Her ability to defuse tense situations and keep her team laughing lowered everyone’s stress level. She knew she was funny but didn’t realize that her humor was so valuable at work.

 

 

Image and Personal Branding Considerations:

 

First impressions are critical. That’s not a new concept.

 

But first impressions are especially important in situations like these:  entering the workforce, interviewing, starting a new position, selling to customers, business owners, when starting a new career or those working towards a promotion.

People form their first impressions in three seconds. In a flash, they are forming judgments about your competence, your personality, and your values – all based on what they see.

And it’s bigger than just the clothes you wear, your hairstyle, or your shoes.  It’s the message those choices make to someone who may not know you very well or may be assessing your professionalism.

 

 

Neatness:

Your appearance needs to be neat, but it’s not just that.  Your purse, your briefcase or laptop bag, your car, your office – it all matters.

Imagine going into your purse for a pen and having bills, receipts, and old tissues falling out. How can someone have confidence that we can stay organized while working on multiple projects if we can’t even keep our purse neat?

Your car should be clean and neat. Some hiring managers walk the candidate to the car just to see inside the car. They are looking for neatness and cleanliness.  If we don’t take good care of an investment like a vehicle, how can they have confidence that we will take good care of the responsibilities of the job we are pursuing?

Your notes and devices matter, too.  Scribbles, sticky notes falling out, torn pages – that speaks to those who see it.  If you have so many apps on your device that you can’t find anything, clean it up and sort them by categories.  If you use your device to show others photos, etc. make sure the device is clean and free of fingerprints.

 

What you carry matters.

Do you carry a purse, a tote bag, AND a laptop bag?  Consolidate! We make ourselves look cluttered when we carry too much stuff around with us.  It can intimidate others who carry much less, and it is not good for your shoulders and back to carry too much stuff.  It takes you longer to get ready to go to the next destination, etc.

That’s not to say don’t be prepared.  Bring with you what you know you’ll need, and leave the ‘might need’ items in the car.

 

 

Device Connectivity

How you are connected to your devices has an impact on your image.  Devices are everywhere and practically everyone has them. But how you use yours – or rather won’t stop using yours – has a profound impact on your image.

 

If you are one of those people that have a hard time making eye contact with folks, or can’t turn away from your computer when someone is in your office, that has an impact on your image.  If people don’t feel like they come first sometimes if they feel as if you are bored in their presence, if they don’t think you’re listening to them, that has an impact on your image.

 

 

Social Media

People will make assumptions about what you post on social media just like they do when they see you in person.  Social media can expose inconsistencies in character.  Consider this:

I was working with a client a while back; I was coaching her to help her get to the next level in her career, and during the discovery process, it became clear that there were some challenges regarding her integrity.  It wasn’t that she was lying, or untruthful in her words but her team didn’t really trust her.  I was at first perplexed because she seemed to be very positive and supportive.  It wasn’t until I checked out her social media presence that I figured out the problem.  In her personal interactions with people, she was very agreeable, positive, and upbeat.

But her social media presence showed a different side.  Most of her posts were those ‘poor pitiful me’ type posts; negative tones, and even some not-so-positive comments about her job and co-workers.  Nothing specific; she didn’t mention names.  But she would make comments like ‘can’t wait for the weekend; working with crazy people is exhausting’ and ‘I swear if I hear that same stupid question one more time, I’m going to go postal.’

Not only did the co-workers who saw these posts wonder if she was talking about them, the tone contradicted the positive tone she tried to present in person.  It made people feel as if she was being fake with her positivity, and fakeness doesn’t breed trustworthiness.

 

My story:

Prior to starting my company, I wore very conservative attire. I typically wore a suit with a jacket; always black or gray. I wasn’t unlikeable, but the first impression that I made (compounded by my VP title), was a little off-putting to some, I know.

 

When I started Enhancement Talent Development, I wanted to make sure that I was perceived as fresh and engaging, not stuffy or uptight.

And I needed to be seen immediately as approachable.  My team knew I was approachable – and complimented me on it frequently, but I needed to be seen as such by strangers in a first impression.

I know it’s critical that your image aligns with your brand.

So, to ensure my image matched my brand, I ditched those suits and jackets and opted for feminine dresses and sweaters.

That may sound like a small change but it was monumental in how I was perceived.  I still look professional but not unapproachable.

 

How do you know how you are perceived? How do you enhance your image and personal brand?Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

 

Finding the RIGHT Talent – a 9 Part Series Part 5 – Developing the Interview Question List

Finding the RIGHT Talent

Interviewing Skills to Make Evidence Based Hiring Decisions

Part 5 – Developing the Interview Question List

Introduction:

How efficient are you at finding the RIGHT talent? How successful are you at conducting interviews? Are you able to select the right candidate for your open positions?  What do we mean when we talk about someone being a ‘fit’ for a particular role? How important is “fit” when it comes to selecting new employees? How do we balance our gut feelings versus evidence? Have you ever hired a new employee that you thought was going to be great but turned out to be not-so-great?

 

This series will cover all those questions and more!

 

 

Part 5 – Developing the Interview Question List

 

In Part 1, we covered Advertising the Position – HOW and WHERE; Part 2 discussed Cover Letters and Resumes, Part 3 is The Phone Interview, and Part 4 detailed Preparing for the In-Person Interview.  Before we are ready for the initial interviews, we need to focus on developing our interview question list. So let’s get started!

ASK Finding the right talent part 5 yourlifeenhanced.ne

What are the questions you typically ask interviewees?

I often hear of people asking questions like:

What appeals to you about this position?

Why do you believe you’d be a good fit for this position?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What are your career goals?

 

Those questions are fine, and the answers may provide a small level of insight into the candidate but the more ‘typical’ the question, the more likely the candidate has a rehearsed answer. And that’s not what we’re looking for.

 

Question Types

 

The most productive interviews contain a blend of culture-based and evidence-based questions.

And most questions should be open-ended questions.  Questions that prompt yes or no, or one-word answers don’t provide the quality of information we need to gather during the interview.

Instead of:

“Do you think you’d be a good fit for this position?”

Ask:

“in what way would you be a good fit for this position?”

Don’t ask:

“Do you have the skills needed to be successful in this role?”

Ask:

“What skills do you possess that will add value to this role?”

See what we’re talking about there?

 

The Professional Interviewee

There are a lot of candidates out there that have become very good at interviewing.  I call them ‘professional interviewees’ because they make such a good impression during the interview and then when they get hired, their true colors come out.  You’ve probably experienced that at some point; and if you haven’t, your turn is coming. (Sorry – but it’s true!)

Giving Them the Answers

Watch out for questions that we’ve given them the answers to.  For instance, if the ad you placed says something like ‘must be organized, good with people, and have solid computer skills’ don’t ask ‘why do you think you’d be good at this position?’ The candidate will say they are organized, like people, and are good with computers.  So, we gave them the answer.

That answer really only tells us that they read the ad.  They aren’t going to say they stink at computers if that’s one of the required traits mentioned in the ad, right? So, let’s ask questions that give us evidence.

 

Evidence-based Questions

Here are some examples:

  • As the ad mentioned, this job requires solid computer skills. Tell me about the software or systems that you have worked with in the past and describe what challenges you experienced with those systems.

The answer you get here will not only tell us what software they’ve used and if it correlates to the software this position uses, it will also tell us about possible weaknesses in their understanding of the complexity of software they’ve used. This one is great for determining if the candidate is being truthful and accurate with the details of their skills.

  • This position is responsible for the organization of the resident and vendor files. Describe how you organize your personal files and records.

Knowing how they interpret ‘organize’ and how they organize their own world gives us insight into their true level of organization.

  • Describe a time where you handled a sticky situation with a co-worker (or customer) and it didn’t turn out the way you planned.

The answer to this one shines a light on the candidates comfort level with mistakes, their willingness and ability to see a situation objectively and demonstrates their leadership ability.

Don’t prompt the candidate to tell you what they learned from the incident or ask what they’d do differently.  Candidates that voluntarily share what they learned from the situation they are describing are exhibiting leadership ability. If they don’t, they may not fully believe they had any responsibility for the outcome of the situation.  Either way, you’ve gathered some valuable evidence.

More Evidence-based questions

  • If a coworker takes credit for your hard work in a meeting in front of all your teammates, what would you do?

If you want to understand the level of arrogance of a candidate, this is a great question!  It can also help you understand if the candidate is willing to stand up for themselves in a diplomatic way.  The answer to this one also helps us understand the candidate’s motives and approach to team management.

  • If you are hired for this position and are happy with the salary, the job, and the company, what type of offer from another company would you consider?

I love this one!  It helps you identify the candidate’s focus, what motivates them, and what they are looking for that you may not offer.

  • Pete has been with the company for 5 years and is extremely knowledgeable and skilled at his job. He is pretty arrogant and most of his co-workers don’t particularly like working with him.  Thomas has been here for 1 year. He does a good job in his role but doesn’t seem to be very familiar with the responsibilities of the other roles on the team. Thomas is likable and easy to work with.  If you have to choose one of these co-workers to help you with a big project, who will you choose and why?

Another one that I love!  This helps you understand how ambitious and/or sensitive the candidate is when dealing with team members and high-profile projects.  It can display the candidate’s willingness to work in an uncomfortable environment when needed, and give insight into how important the big picture is to them.

I could keep going, but you get the concept.

I suggest developing 5-7 of these types of questions based on the role you are hiring for to use in the initial interview.

 

Culture-based Questions

 

Our culture needs to come through loud and clear during the interviewing process. Not ensuring the candidates fully understand the company culture can lead to hiring candidates that don’t fit. And that can result in higher turnover because it can mean we hire the wrong people repeatedly.

 

Take Zappos.com, for instance.   There’s lots of hub-bub about their culture and how they maintain it.  They’ve done a fantastic job of honing a well-oiled culture of exceptional customer service, embracing change, adventure and creativity.  How do they make sure they hire people that can fit that culture?  Their interviews consist of questions like:

  • What is your theme song?
  • If you could be a super hero, what would you be and why?
  • What is something weird that makes you happy?
  • If you were an animal, which one would you be?
  • What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t? Why haven’t you done it?
  • If your life were a movie, what would the trailer be like?
  • Which one of our ‘core values’ would be most difficult for you to uphold?
  • Share a time where you had to break the rules to get the job done.

Read more about Zappos.com’s interview questions here.

 

Why do they ask questions like these?

To learn more about the candidate than just their work experience and technical knowledge.  These questions provide insight into the candidate’s values, humor, honesty, ethics, creativity, and visionary ability. For Zappos.com, these questions help them determine if an applicant can thrive in their out-of-the-ordinary, Tutu-Tuesday, work-hard-play-harder culture.

 

While your culture may be different from Zappos.com, perhaps some versions of those question would be helpful. Some other options to consider:

 

  • If you had a company of your own, what would your mission and values be?
  • At the end of your career, when you look back at your work life, what type of company will you be most proud of having worked with?

These questions give insight into the candidate’s entrepreneurial spirit and help identify what types of values are important to them.

more culture-based questions to consider:

  • Describe your ideal work environment where you would be most productive and happy.
  • Describe the characteristics exhibited by the best boss you have ever had?
  • Tell me the single most important factor that must be present in your work environment for you to be successfully and happily employed?
  • Tell me the single most important factor that must NOT be present in your work environment for you to be successfully and happily employed?
  • How would your coworkers describe your work style and contributions in your previous (or current) job?

 

You’ll want to have 5-7 culture-based questions to use in the initial interview.

 

You can add a few technical or more traditional questions to your interview list if you want.  But consistency is important so you will want to have your question list nailed down before the first interview.

Did you miss previous sections of this series?

Advertising the Position – HOW and WHERE – Part 1

Cover Letters and Resumes – Part 2

The Phone Interview – Part 3

Preparing for the In-Person Interview – Part 4

 

Stay tuned for Part 6 coming soon!

Share your thoughts!  What are your favorite interview questions? How do you identify the right candidate? Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

Big Screen Lessons: Crimson Tide

Big Screen Lessons: Crimson Tide

A Training Lesson

Preface:

Lessons. I’m always on the lookout for lessons. For years now, I’ve been making notes when I watch movies.  Sometimes those notes are phrases I want to remember, often the notes are about feelings the movie evoked, and quite frequently, I write about lessons learned from watching a flick.

 

I was talking about that process with a good friend the other day and she suggested I share those lessons, and I really like that idea!  So, this is the first in a series of blog posts about lessons we can learn from the Big Screen.  I hope you enjoy reading them!

Big Screen Lessons: Crimson Tide

Have you seen Crimson Tide?  It’s more than 20 years old but a great movie.  I’ve seen it several times, most recently two weeks ago.

 

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the film:

(Source)

<Crimson Tide is a 1995 American submarine film directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It takes place during a period of political turmoil in the Russian Federation, in which ultranationalists threaten to launch nuclear missiles at the United States and Japan. It focuses on a clash of wills between the new executive officer (Denzel Washington) of a U.S. nuclear missile submarine and its seasoned commanding officer (Gene Hackman), arising from conflicting interpretations of an order to launch their missiles.>

Aside from the action and intrigue common in these types of movies, the interactions between Denzel Washington’s character and Gene Hackman’s is very entertaining. It’s one of those interactions that I noted while watching the movie the first time. Initially, I was on Denzel’s side, but after hearing the Captain’s explanation, I switched sides.  You’ll see why in a minute.

I encourage you to watch the section I’m referencing either now, or after reading this post.  The link starts just before an interaction between Washington and Hackman (at 22:33).  You can watch the rest of the movie if you want but watch at least until 28:34.

Crimson Tide

Here’s the story.

A call comes over the speaker system:

Fire in the Galley! Fire in the Galley!

XO Hunter (played by Washington) jumps into action.  He puts out the fire but not before there some pretty major damage done and a few injuries.

 

Upon hearing that the fire is under control, the Captain (Gene Hackman’s character) gives the directive to initiate a weapons system readiness test. When the test is announced, XO Hunter questions the timing. “Why is he running a missions test now?”

No kidding!

Doesn’t the Captain realize that the men involved in the fire are tense and stressed and that there is a possibility the fire could blaze up again? What is he thinking?  Seems like he’s just being mean, or trying to make Denzel and the men look bad.

The test is terminated before completion due to a medical emergency; one of the men involved in the kitchen fire is in crisis.

 

After the crisis is over (sadly because the injured soldier didn’t make it), the Captain and XO Hunter have a conversation about the timing of the test.  When XO Hunter says that he would have ensured that the kitchen fire situation was completely resolved before running the test, the Captain replies:

‘Confusion on the ship is nothing to fear. It should be taken advantage of. …. We are a ship of war designed for battle. You don’t just fight battles when everything is hunky-dory.’

big screen lessons yourlifeenhanced.net

The captain ran the drill when he did because he was giving his men the opportunity to practice dealing with chaos. Because that’s how things go in war. It wasn’t a convenient time to run the drill.  But not much is convenient during a war.

 

That makes me think. How can the Captain’s decision apply to how businesses are run?  Do business leaders do enough to prepare their troops for ‘battle’? Are we drilling our teams when it’s convenient? Or are we training them how to deal with real situations?

Organizational Training

Organizational training is typically multi-fold: classroom, online, hands-on. And hands-on training is critical, no doubt. But is the hands-on training we’re doing adequate?  Are setting the stage for hands-on training, conducting it during a scheduled time that works for the trainer? Using made up situations or exercises that we can control? Or are we running a drill during chaos so that our team members are truly prepared for the craziness that they will deal with during their day?

It took real courage for the Captain in Crimson Tide to call for the weapons drill while the crew was still reeling over the galley fire. But it just might be that kind of courage that will keep his men safe during a real battle. And running drills during chaos just might make the difference between failure and success for the entire crew.

 

Thoughts?  What do you think of the Captain’s decision?Mindy McCorkle Blog Signature

Finding the RIGHT Talent – a 9 Part Series Part 4 – Preparing for the In-Person Interview

Finding the RIGHT Talent

Interviewing Skills to Make Evidence Based Hiring Decisions

Part 4 – Preparing for the In-Person Interview

Introduction:

How efficient are you at finding the RIGHT talent? How successful are you at conducting interviews? Are you able to select the right candidate for your open positions?  What do we mean when we talk about someone being a ‘fit’ for a particular role? How important is “fit” when it comes to selecting new employees? How do we balance our gut feelings versus evidence? Have you ever hired a new employee that you thought was going to be great but turned out to be not-so-great?

 

This series will cover all those questions and more!

  

Part 4 – Preparing for the In-Person Interview

 

In Part 5, we’ll dig culture and evidence based questioning. But before we start talking about what to do during the interview, we should adequately prepare for the interview.

Let’s start with some Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts

 

Here’s the Don’t List:

Don’t schedule multiple interviews back to back. You need time to digest the information learned in each interview, and you’ll need a few minutes to make notes from the discussion.  You may also need a potty break!

Leaving at least 30 minutes between scheduled interviews also helps prevent the uncomfortableness of having interviewees pass in the doorway. And allows some flex time in case an interview runs long.

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Don’t do more than 2 or 3 interviews in one day.  Interviewing is draining. It’s mentally exhausting. If you’ve ever done one of those marathon interview days where you interviewed 6-8 people in a row, remember how you felt at the end of that day. By the 4th or 5th interview, you were probably starting to get irritated with the redundancy, and you were likely jumping to quicker judgements than you did with the first few interviews.    That’s what happens when we get mentally exhausted.

Do yourself a favor and spread the interviews out a bit. You’ll be able to better analyze the interactions you have with the candidates. And you’ll make a better candidate selection decision!

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Don’t schedule interviews during times of the day that aren’t your best.  If your peak performance time is first thing in the morning, try to schedule the interviews then. If you are at the top of your game right after lunch, that’s when you should schedule your interviews.

Of course, you’ll need to be a bit flexible with the candidates’ schedules but serious candidates will flex as well. And if you conduct an interview at your lowest peak of the day, you may not make a good impression on the interviewee and that’s a critical part of the interview process!

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A few more Don’ts!

Don’t add to the question list between interviews.  We’re going to talk extensively about how to develop your question list in Part 5 but this is a big DON’T so I wanted to mention it now.
Sometimes, a candidate will provide some information in the interview that makes you wish you knew the same information about a candidate you’ve already interviewed.  And that might make it tempting to add a new question to future interviews.
Don’t do it!  You can add it to the question list for the NEXT time you have to fill that same position, but not this time.

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Don’t have a large file of resumes in front of you during the interview.  In fact, all you really need is your question list, note paper, and the candidate’s resume.

Having a big ol’ stack of resumes on the table when meeting with a potential candidate can do a number of things – none of which are productive.  It can seem as if you’re trying to intimidate the candidate. It can make you look unprepared or unorganized. And it could create the possibility of accidental disclosure of another candidate’s information.

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Don’t take your cell phone into the room with you.  And put any land-line phones on do-not-disturb. If you cannot be without phone access for the 45-60 minutes that it takes to conduct the interview, schedule it for when you can.

You don’t want to be distracted by ringing or buzzing. It might cause you to miss a vital clue. And the candidate deserves your undivided attention.

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Don’t commit to anything at this point. It’s tempting to tell a candidate that you really liked that they are on the short list or they made the cut. But don’t. Not yet.

As I said earlier, you need time to digest each interaction. And part of the process of interviewing multiple candidates is to compare their skills and competencies. Just because you like Susan at the time of her interview doesn’t mean that once you’ve interviewed several more that Susan will still be in the top 3.

 

And here’s the Do list:

Do be prepared.  Review the resume, Resume Review Thermometer, and job description right before the interview.

Have your question list nailed down and ensure each candidate is asked the same questions.  Having a predefined list not only helps prevent us from asking questions we shouldn’t, it helps keep us on track during the interview.

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Do set the stage.  When possible, meet with candidates in a comfortable setting with no table or desk between you and the candidate.  If you must use a conference room or office, move the chairs so that you are seated near/beside the candidate but without a table between you.  This allows you to absorb body language better and can help put the candid at ease. It can also allow you to see any evidence of nervousness, or fidgety behavior.

Try to position both chairs so that activity outside windows and doors won’t distract either of you.

Make sure the area is clean and presentable, free from junk/clutter, and presents the organization in a positive light.

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Do keep an eye on the time.  If you’ve asked the candidate to set aside an hour for the interview, stick to an hour.  Remember that they may be on their lunch break and/or must get back to their current job.  Don’t be the cause of them jeopardizing their current employment.

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Keep the conversation pleasant but focused.  Don’t allow the conversation to stray into potentially dangerous areas; keep it relative to the position.

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Introduce candidates to other team members when possible.  This is a great way to gauge a person’s professionalism, communication skills, approachability, etc.  Ask those team members for their first impression of the candidates they meet.

 

In part 5, we’ll develop your interview question list so stay tuned!

 

Read PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3!