Posted tagged ‘Staff’

Establishing the Foundation for the Leadership Interview

June 22, 2010

A leadership interview is a little more delicate. In fact, I would categorize this discussion as more of a conversation than an interview. There are several reasons why this is so.

The candidate being interviewed is typically more mature. Usually, this person has managed departments or divisions, if not other companies. Therefore, this applicant is more comfortable with the proceedings.  For this level candidate, it truly is an opportunity to shine and demonstrate the depth and breadth of the knowledge and experience that has been acquired over an entire professional career.

These factors by themselves make this interview different.

It is as much about making sure that there is a stylistic and cultural match as it is about the skills that the candidate possesses. And the candidate also usually understands on some level that a poor match will not work for him or her.

To make this conversation more effective and easier, I typically explain that I am assisting n this process. My intention and goals is to find a fit so that the candidate can be happy and fulfilled for years to come and so can the company.

This allows for a conversational shift toward getting to know the person. The context and the most fundamental rule to apply is that we are here to “screen out” inappropriate candidates rather than “screening in” people.

The purpose of the questions that we outlined in the previous post is now clear. The se questions have been designed to facilitate the discussion and they are clearly in the best interests of the applicant as well as the company.

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Determining the Candidate’s Leadership Profile

June 17, 2010

One of the challenges in the interview process was the need to capture information in a meaningful way.  The plan was to interview five candidates in one day and the risk of blurring responses, characteristics and attributes was fairly high. Effective data capture was therefore important.

The tool that was built had a section for evaluating each of the core attributes highlighted in the prior post. It was to be completed after the interview and it simply asked if the candidate had the particular attribute and allowed for any additional comments or insights.

The rest of the document – and clearly the most important section – was devoted to a series of questions designed to create a conversation that would enable the candidate to share his or her views on leadership.

Here are some examples of these questions:

A. Getting to know you questions:

(1) I’m about to buy a brand named <candidate>. Describe what I just bought.

(2) What was the best job you ever had? Why?

B. Execution:

(1) How do you assure / implement accountability among your staff?

(2) What do you reward and how do you reward it?

(3) How do you convince people to change behaviors?

(4) How do you evaluate staff?

(5) Why should someone be fired?

C. Ability:

(1) What characteristics of your present job do you like?

(2) What are some of the things you don’t like?

(3) How would you change your job if you had the power to do so?

(4) Describe your perfect job?

(5) Describe your perfect boss?

(6) Give me 5 adjectives that generally describe the people who work for you.

D. Leadership:

(1) What are 3 core tenets of your management philosophy that you would never compromise?

(2) Fast forward a year —  how is our company, the one that just hired you, different?

(3) How do you hire people (i.e. what is the hiring process / what do you look for)?

(4) Talk to me about a great hiring success (what were the factors that made it successful)?

(5) Talk to me about a great hiring disaster. Why did it happen? What did you do about it? (this is a great question to learn about blindspots)

(6) How do you make important decisions?

(7) How do you go about learning new things?

(8) Describe the perfect company culture? How would you create this culture?

E. Ability to Grow and Learn:

(1) Most people have at east one tough integrity challenge in their professional lives – what was yours and how did you handle it?

(2) What is the greatest lesson that you learned in the past five years?

(3) What is the greatest professional challenge you’ve ever faced and why?

F. Vision:

(1) Tell me about three competitive trends for which we should be concerned.

(2) What is the single most important idea that you contributed to your present job?

The purpose of these questions is to learn what is important to the candidate and the thinking process that is utilized. What can be learned from these questions is the values of the candidate, how they are reinforced and the type of people with whom these leaders will surround themselves.

Getting these answers will your company know the type of leader it is engaging.

Building a Team

November 7, 2008

Now that the election is behind us, the hard work for our new president truly begins. President-Elect Obama’s first responsibility is to put together capable of leading our nation. Today, he began announcing his staff with the selection of Rahm Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff. This, therefore seems like a very appropriate time to discuss hiring and that is what the next few posts will address.

Executives spend more time managing people and making people-related decisions than anything else, and they should. No other decisions are as enduring in their consequences or as difficult. It is the people decisions that have the greatest impact on the cultural fabric and the performance of the entire organization.

Yet, according to Peter Drucker, the noted management guru, most executives bat no better than .333. At most, one third of these decisions turn out to be right, another third are minimally effective, and the remainders are outright failures.

Drucker goes on to say that this level of performance is unnecessary, and while we will never be perfect, there is no reason why we can’t bat closer to 1000 if the leadership and hiring executive adopt these basic principles.

  • If I put a person into a job and he or she does not perform, I have no business blaming the person, the Peter Principle, or complaining. Rather, I have made a mistake.
  • Employees have a right to competent leadership. It is the duty of management to make sure that the responsible people in their organizations perform.
  • Of all of the decisions that an executive makes, none is as important as decisions about people because they determine the performance capacity of the organization. Therefore, I’d better make these sorts of decisions well.
  • Don’t give new people mission critical assignments without very strong monitoring and guidance. Doing so compounds the risks we all face with a new employee. Giving this sort of assignment to someone whose behavior and habits you know and who has earned trust and credibility within your organization is always better. Putting a newcomer into an established position in which expectations are known and help is available is the ideal. Many small companies though don’t have this luxury. In those instances, you would be wise to monitor and guide.

Once these beliefs have been adopted, how does one become effective at making the right hiring decisions? Here are a few important steps that will enable you to select the right people for your company. The context and the most fundamental rule to apply is that we are here to “screen out” inappropriate candidates rather than “screening in” people.

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the way one should go about hiring the team.


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