Tuesday, September 27, 2016

leadership dot #1579: interviewing

The interviewing process is inherently flawed as it requires an organization, within a matter of a few hours or less, to make a hiring decision that has long term consequences. The same is true on the other side of the table; the candidate has limited information on which to base a life-changing choice.

The best the supervisor can hope for is to ask compelling questions that reveal nuances and truths about the candidate, and to learn insights beyond the superficial and standard answers. Toward that end, I have compiled a list of 70 interview questions that I have used throughout my career. These are general questions from which you can pick and choose, and of course pair with questions that are job-specific. They can also provide some interesting answers when used as ice breakers at staff meetings or in conversation with mentees.

The questions may also help those who are preparing for interviews. While there is no way to formulate answers to everything, as a candidate, it does help to review sample questions in advance and consider potential answers. Even if you aren't asked the exact question, the principle behind it will likely be raised.

These questions have been compiled over time, by making notes on good questions that others ask or that I have been asked. I'd encourage you to keep your own list and add to this one. The stakes are high in the hiring process, and it is always worth the extra effort to make the outcome the best it can be. 

What's your favorite interview question? I'd love for you to share it and I'll add it to my list!

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



Monday, September 26, 2016

leadership dot #1578: request

I recently had to request official transcripts before I could be hired for an adjunct teaching position. The process brought to light some interesting differences between the four schools from which I have degrees.

My (beloved) alma mater charged nothing. There was a simple form on the website; I printed it, mailed it and was finished. My first master's institution charged me $7.45 and required a multi-step process from an outside vendor. My doctoral institution uses the same outsourcing, but charged me $12. 

My second master's institution showed that the fee was $5, but then sent back my uncashed check with a note that "due to our new school policy, this fee has been dissolved." I always welcome $5, but it seems that it would have taken less cost and effort to change the website rather than to mail back checks.

I was also surprised that in 2016, schools still require a hand-signed form to release transcripts. No faxes or emails. No use of electronic signatures. Even with the external vendors, you do everything electronically, but still have to print and mail a form with the signature. I know transcripts are valuable, but it seems very archaic and cumbersome in this day and age, and I can only imagine what the current graduates think. Use a stamp!?

With the cost of education as high as it is, it would seem that more institutions could include processing of a few official transcripts as a perk for at least their graduates if not for everyone. 

Think about what you do for those who may need services from you after their primary business is complete. Do you charge clients for copies of previous records (eg: taxes, medical files, blueprints, etc.)?  Have you reviewed the process to make it as easy as possible? Could you factor the costs into present-day charges and eliminate those pesky after-the-fact fees?

While some may be required to maintain relationships with you over time, good will and loyalty can never be mandated. Treat the on-going records requests as an opportunity to shine not as a nuisance.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com





Sunday, September 25, 2016

leadership dot #1577: punt vs. bunt

While I was out shopping, I came across two displays full of party accessories with football themes. Among the dozens of items, you can buy a tray with 10-yard line markings, a football shaped chip dish, ketchup and mustard containers with footballs and cups with sayings like: "Hey Ref, check your phone; I think you missed a call." My favorite was personal penalty flags that you could presumably throw at the television. 

These displays got me thinking about the difference in the culture of football vs. baseball. I have never seen a display for baseball party items, nor have I ever heard of the need for them. Who throws a baseball party except maybe for the World Series? Why hasn't tailgating made its way into baseball? Why do friends gather to watch regular season football games, for both college and pro, when baseball doesn't warrant group use of the Man Cave or sports bar until the post-season?

My theory is that the availability of football is limited. Teams only play one game per week. They only play on a few select days. The regular season is short. You only have a handful of opportunities to see your team live vs. 62 chances to go in baseball. There are no double headers.

So with football, less is more. The scarcity leads to greater demand and importance when the sport is in season. 

Think about your organization and whether it more closely resembles football or baseball. Do you have a limited offering or do you provide multiple services? Does your model spread out your involvement with clients or try to concentrate it into a select period? Can you engage customers in multiple ways (eg: watch parties or tailgating) vs. requiring them to attend the live event?

Football and baseball both have their benefits, and there isn't one right way to structure your organization. Just don't punt away your opportunity to be intentional about your choice.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

 





Saturday, September 24, 2016

leadership dot #1576: relevant and prolific

One last observation from my travels: I was struck by the uneven nature of social media promotion by the sites we visited. 

We were at many of the primary tourist locations in the region, and their encouragement for us to promote them on social media ranged from no hashtags available to an entire "Connect Zone" with free charging cords and staff to assist in photo sharing.

I tweeted about Newport Aquarium in KY and got almost an instantaneous retweet and reply. My tweets about other locations went unnoticed by the sites.

It caused me to think of the many dimensions of social media use: what you publish yourself, how you encourage others to share on your behalf, and as I have written about before, how you listen and respond. 

My former "alpha pup" copywriter Rob Lombardi once said: "Your social media strategy should be relevant and prolific or don't bother. It's the wrong vehicle for your message." 

Add "how you engage others" to your strategic thinking and be relevant and prolific with this aspect of your social media plan as well.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


 

Friday, September 23, 2016

leadership dot #1575: elite

As the airport gate attendant called people to board a flight, he ran through the litany of people who could board first: Executive Platinum, One World Emerald, One World Sapphire, One World Ruby, Advantage Platinum, Advantage Gold, Priority Access, Priority Gold and Active Duty Military.

When the nine groups with premium boarding finished, about 25% of the plane was seated. Airlines shower perks on this group, often at the expense of the other 75% who fill their planes. And once you are on board, American is now introducing "premium economy" seats, adding one more way to make the non-premium flyer feel like one step above cargo.

I know that the elite classifications are designed to engender loyalty among the most frequent travelers, and in many cases it works. But the programs highlight the challenge of how to make a large group feel important without making the remaining group feel unimportant. 

In addition to thinking about the ways you can provide recognition to your best clients, frame that against how it makes your majority feel. Those not in the upper echelon may not have earned all the perks of the elite, but it will serve you well to provide an occasional acknowledgement to the ordinary folks whose influence and impact do matter.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com 


Thursday, September 22, 2016

leadership dots #1574: go retro

The Cincinnati Reds baseball team has spent much of the season in last place; as of this writing they are 31 games out of first with a 62-83 record. If you were the Reds marketing team and had an inkling that this wouldn't be a stellar season, how could you handle it?

It seems that the Reds came up with a brilliant solution: go retro and promote the storied past of the club. While the team has not been a contender in recent years, they do have such greats as Johnny Bench and Pete Rose as part of their legacy. They are also one of the oldest teams in the league, giving them plenty of history to tout.

If your past is more illustrious than your present, use it to gain transference of glory to the present day. It's still part of your story, and could inspire someone to add a new chapter of glory to your tale.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


Championship headlines from 1976 and 1990 -- the last times they won


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

leadership dot #1573: walls

Outside the National Underground Railway Freedom Center is a tribute to the end of another type of barrier that kept people from being free. The Berlin Wall memorial is an actual piece of the concrete that separated the East and West sides of Berlin for over 25 years. The memorial honors "those who have died seeking freedom without walls," including the 130 who perished trying to scale the wall itself.

I suspect that when the wall was erected, there were many who felt it was a necessary or at least logical thing to do. Yet, when the wall came down in 1989, there was a great celebration of freedom. "Liberty is the right to choose, freedom is the result of that choice," reads one of the engravings at the site.

May we learn lessons from slavery and from Berlin and work hard to reduce barriers rather than erecting them, and to allow people to have freedoms instead of oppression. Start today by dismantling the figurative walls you have built around your belief system, and be open to listening to the voice of others.

"The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom," reads a quote at the Memorial attributed to Lady Bird Johnson. Have a civil clash of freedom today.

-- beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com