14 Revealing Interview Questions

March 5, 2013

14 Revealing Interview Questions
Smart entrepreneurs from a variety of industries share the interview questions that tell them everything they need to know about a candidate.

Interview Questions: Everyone has them.

And everyone wishes they had better ones.

So I asked smart people from a variety of fields for their favorite interview question and, more importantly, why it’s their favorite and what it tells them about the candidate.

1. If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?

“For me, the most important thing about interviews is that the interviewee interviews us. I need to know they’ve done their homework, truly understand our company and the role… and really want it.

“The candidate should have enough strategic vision to not only talk about how good the year has been but to answer with an eye towards that bigger-picture understanding of the company–and why they want to be here.”

Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO

2. When have you been most satisfied in your life?

“Except with entry-level candidates, I presume reasonable job skill and intellect. Plus I believe smart people with relevant experience adapt quickly and excel in new environments where the culture fits and inspires them.

“So, I concentrate on character and how well theirs matches that of my organization.

“This question opens the door for a different kind of conversation where I push to see the match between life in my company and what this person needs to be their best and better in my company than he or she could be anywhere else.”

Dick Cross, Cross Partnership founder and CEO

3. If you got hired, loved everything about this job, and are paid the salary you asked for, what kind of offer from another company would you consider?

“I like to find out how much the candidate is driven by money versus working at a place they love.

“Can they be bought?

“You’d be surprised by some of the answers.”

Ilya Pozin, Ciplex founder

4. Who is your role model, and why?

“The question can reveal how introspective the candidate is about their own personal and professional development, which is a quality I have found to be highly correlated with success and ambition.

“Plus it can show what attributes and behaviors the candidate aspires to.”

Clara Shih, Hearsay Social co-founder and CEO

5. What things do you not like to do?

“We tend to assume people who have held a role enjoy all aspects of that role, but I’ve found that is seldom the case.

“Getting an honest answer to the question requires persistence, though. I usually have to ask it a few times in different ways, but the answers are always worth the effort. For instance, I interviewed a sales candidate who said she didn’t enjoy meeting new people.

“My favorite was the finance candidate who told me he hated dealing with mundane details and checking his work. Next!”

Art Papas, Bullhorn founder and CEO

6. Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

“I find that this question opens the door to further questions and enables someone to highlight themselves in a specific, non-generic way.

“Plus additional questions can easily follow: What position did you hold when you achieved this accomplishment? How did it impact your growth at the company? Who else was involved and how did the accomplishment impact your team?

“Discussing a single accomplishment is an easy way to open doors to additional information and insight about the person, their work habits, and how they work with others.”

Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation owner and CEO

7. Tell me how…

“I don’t have one favorite question because I believe a great interview takes on a life of its own, becoming more of a conversation than a formal process.

“Ultimately we’re looking for people who are motivated, disciplined, good spirited, possessing skills and passion, so I ask indirect questions about the creative process, about articulating and demystifying the process of creating great food and great service.

“Then I trust my instincts. Reading the eyes of the candidate is a final test I’ve come to rely on–because the eyes never lie.”

Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin chef and co-owner

8. What’s your superpower, or what’s your spirit animal?

“During her interview I asked my current executive assistant what was her favorite animal. She told me it was a duck, because ducks are calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface.

“I think this was an amazing response and a perfect description for the role of an EA. For the record, she’s been working with us for over a year now and is amazing at her job.”

Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO

9. Why have you had x amount of jobs in y years?

“This question helps me get a full picture of the candidate’s work history. What keeps them motivated? Why, if they have, did they jump from job to job? And what is the key factor when they leave?

“The answer shows me their loyalty and their reasoning process. Do they believe someone always keeps them down (managers, bosses, etc.)? Do they get bored easily?

“There is nothing inherently wrong with moving from job to job–the reasons why are what matters.”

Shama Kabani, The Marketing Zen Group founder and CEO

10. We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more–with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.

“Good candidates will have lots of answers to this question. Great candidates will get excited as they share their answers.

“In 13 years we’ve only passed along one price increase to our customers. That’s not because our costs have decreased–quite the contrary. We’ve been able to maintain our prices because we’ve gotten better at what we do. Our team, at every level, has their ears to the ground looking for problems to solve.

“Every new employee needs to do that, too.”

Edward Wimmer, RoadID co-founder and co-owner

11. Discuss a specific accomplishment you’ve achieved in a previous position that indicates you will thrive in this position.

“Past performance is usually the best indicator of future success.

“If the candidate can’t point to a prior accomplishment, they are unlikely to be able to accomplish much at our organization–or yours.”

Dave Lavinsky, Growthink co-founder and president

12. So, (insert name), what’s your story?

“This inane question immediately puts an interviewee on the defensive because there is no right answer or wrong answer. But there is an answer.

“It’s a question that asks for a creative response. It’s an invitation to the candidate to play the game and see where it goes without worrying about the right answer. By playing along, it tells me a lot about the character, imagination, and inventiveness of the person.

“The question, as obtuse as it might sound to the interviewee, is the beginning of a story and in today’s world of selling oneself, or one’s company, it’s the ability to tell a story and create a feeling that sells the brand–whether it’s a product or a person.

“The way they look at me when the question is asked also tells me something about their likeability. If they act defensive, look uncomfortable, and pause longer than a few seconds, it tells me they probably take things too literally and are not broad thinkers. In our business we need broad thinkers.”

Richard Funess, Finn Partners managing partner

13. What questions do you have for me?

“I love asking this question really early in the interview–it shows me whether the candidate can think quickly on their feet, and also reveals their level of preparation and strategic thinking.

“I often find you can learn more about a person based on the questions they ask versus the answers they give.”

Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget co-founder and CEO

14. Tell us about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted– like a promotion you wanted and didn’t get, or a project that didn’t turn out how you had hoped.

“It’s a simple question that says so much. Candidates may say they understand the importance of working as a team but that doesn’t mean they actually know how to work as a team. We need self-starters that will view their position as a partnership.

“Answers tend to fall into three basic categories: 1) blame 2) self-deprecation, or 3) opportunity for growth.

“Our company requires focused employees willing to wear many hats and sometimes go above and beyond the job description, so I want team players with the right attitude and approach. If the candidate points fingers, blames, goes negative on former employers, communicates with a sense of entitlement, or speaks in terms of their role as an individual as opposed to their position as a partnership, he or she won’t do well here.

“But if they take responsibility and are eager to put what they have learned to work, they will thrive in our meritocracy.”

Tony Knopp, Spotlight Ticket Management co-founder and CEO

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Harden and was first published on www.inc.com

4 Steps to Actually Feeling Happier

February 25, 2013

4 Steps to Actually Feeling Happier

There are a lot of myths surrounding the state of mind known as “happiness.” Here’s how you can break them down and start on your own path.

Two months ago a new client entered my office for her first counseling session. “All I want is to feel happy,” she said. “I’m miserable and I focus on that misery all day long.”

It seemed like a fairly simple request, so we went to work.

Week after week I witnessed the smile on my client’s face becoming more consistent, more authentic. Soon she began talking about the laughter and pleasant activities that now fill her days. So I asked whether she thought that we had achieved her happiness goal. I was surprised when she said “no.”

What I learned is that this vibrant woman believed that in order to characterize herself as happy she could never feel sad. To her, sadness and other unpleasant feelings are not allowed in the life of someone who defines themselves as a happy person. But that is not what the human experience is actually about.

Remember, life doles out the knocks. And if we don’t allow a natural progression of the resulting unpleasant feelings we will never fully experience and embrace the joy in life. That’s right; where there is black, there is white, it’s just how nature works. There are two complementary forces that make up all aspects of life and we must allow and accept their balance.

This is the understanding that my client was missing.

And it begs the question: Happiness–what is it, really?

In simplest form, happiness is a state of being. Sure, our circumstances influence the level of happiness we can access, but happiness is within us, not around us. We all have it, but we each define it differently and have varying expectations of ourselves and our own abilities to be happy. And that is what causes the confusion.

It’s perfectly OK to have moments or days of feeling bad, rather than good. Heck, it’s necessary. When we resist the feelings that we categorize as unpleasant, it simply causes more resistance, leading to greater unhappiness. Let’s debunk the happiness myth. These steps might just help you develop a healthy–and, dare I say, happy–life balance.

1. Build a solid foundation.

Martin Seligman is one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness. Seligman describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life.

Revisit your relationships. Are they satisfactory? Do you have a good support network in place? If not, work on building it up. When you hit a bump in the road having supportive people around you will make a world of difference.

Also, review how you contribute to a larger purpose. Focusing on something bigger than you are helps to keep things in perspective.

2. Set realistic expectations.

You are human. Forcing or faking happiness leads to misery and conflict. Even if you create your happiness foundation and achieve a state of general well-being, you will have your ups and downs. It’s how you deal with those fluctuations that matters. Condemnation and negativity will jeopardize your state of balance. Get real. Eliminate the pressure and you will bounce back more quickly.

3. Allow your feelings, rather than resisting them.

There are days when you will wake up feeling unhappy. Whether you fully understand it or not, it’s important to accept that this happens. Be patient with yourself. Don’t complain, but do indulge in a little time to examine your feelings without criticism. Rather than, “I hate when I feel like this,” try “It’s interesting that I have these feelings.” Be OK with it and examine the feelings for a little while if they merit your attention. If not, simply turn your focus to your larger purpose to prevent yourself from dwelling on something that isn’t dwell-worthy.

4. Be ready for change.

Ups and downs are normal, but if you find yourself in what feels like a constant state of unhappiness it’s important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you. Life has a funny way of tapping us on the shoulder when we need to create change. If you don’t pay attention to the gentle tapping, you may be surprised by a less gentle reminder–or series of them. Either way, your subconscious mind will get your attention to suggest, or force, change. So make it easy on yourself and pay attention to the gentle tap. What is the cause of your unhappiness? Find someone who can help you sort through it, and embrace the change that lies ahead. You are on your way.

Editor’s Note:
This article was written by Marla Tabaka and was first published on www.inc.com.

How To Be Better At Your Job in 2013

February 4, 2013

When in comes to the new year, many people have an “out with the old and in with the new” mentality—and work is usually a big part of that. If you want to be better at your job in 2013, here’s what you should do.

Anticipate your department’s needs

“Being a reliable source for your department leader and seeing opportunities for your department to improve are great ways to be better at your job,” says Shawnice Meador, Director of Career Management MBA@UNC. “Take on tasks that your department leader may not need to oversee directly and present a finished product to him or her.” Seeing this initiative from you often helps them understand that you can handle tasks proactively and things will not be falling solely on their shoulders.

Get to know your boss better

Your boss controls your destiny so it’s in your best interest to get to know them better both personally and professionally, says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time. “It doesn’t mean you need to be friends with them or hang out with them, but you do need to learn what makes them tick. The more you communicate with your boss, the better it is for you.” While you’re at it, get to know your boss’s boss as well, he suggests.

Assume success

“Your positive attitude can be seen in your facial expression, posture, tone and speed of your voice,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant. “Be confident in your work. You’re uniquely qualified to do exactly what you do.” Imagine that everything you contribute helps the bottom line, she says. “Even when things are dicey, you can challenge yourself in 2013 to use setbacks as opportunities.”

Study your industry

Your industry is constantly changing and you need to keep up with what’s happening now, Teach says. “Most industries have trade magazines or websites that have the latest news in that industry. It’s important to read these so that you are well informed and can discuss recent industry events and changes with your co-workers, supervisors, and management. Information is power.”

Always come to the table with a solution

Offering a solution or idea is only half of the equation and many managers feel that an idea without an action plan will only create more work for them, Meador says. “Share ideas with context and a clear path for implementation for the leader to evaluate.” The more you present any issues with recommended solutions and then implement those solutions in a timely and effective manner, the more the leadership team will rely on you and think about you for future projects and new responsibilities, she says.

Find a mentor

Everyone needs someone to teach them the ropes; to guide them through their career, Teach says. “Find someone at your company whom you respect and want to learn from. You don’t need to directly ask them to be your mentor, just keep the communication lines open and take them out to lunch once in a while.” You can talk to them about non-work interests as well–but when you need work advice, they’ll be there for you.

Improve your communication skills

One of the most common mistakes made by both managers and employees today, is that too often, both are afraid to come to the table and talk about underlying issues, Taylor says. “Fear of confrontation is so overwhelming, but if you communicate boldly, more frequently, and honestly in 2013, and you’re not afraid to work through conflict, you’ll likely reduce your stress and be a better worker.” Too much time is spent dwelling on misunderstood employee communications, which, if left unaddressed, eventually leads to conflict. “And an ever-tempting, over-reliance on technology with its benefits of brevity and immediacy can exacerbate that.”

Work harder and smarter

Some employees set limits and boundaries for themselves as far as the number of hours worked or how much work they’re willing to do on a project. “It’s important to go outside these boundaries and go with the flow,” Teach says. “Having said this, working harder is not enough. The key is to be able to work smarter so that you’re maximizing your abilities and making the most out of your time.”

Volunteer to get involved with special projects, particularly those across business units

The more you can help across all business units, the better, Meador says. “Lending expertise, time and effort to other teams will help you get to know other aspects of the business as well as help you connect with people across the company,” she says. “However, remember that your current position and duties are the most important, so be sure not to bite off more than you can chew.”

See the big picture

There are many employees who only focus on what they’re doing, which prevents them from seeing the big picture. “You’re just one piece of the puzzle and the puzzle isn’t complete until all of the pieces are in place,” Teach says. Find out what your co-workers are doing and what your supervisor is doing. By getting a better understanding of the big picture, it will become clearer to you why you’ve been asked to complete certain projects. “Additionally, it’s a great learning experience which can help prepare you for a higher level position since managers and supervisors need to see the big picture in order to become successful,” he adds.

Invest in continuous learning to stay on top of your game

Many companies encourage employees to go back to school and pick up courses that can help them do their job better, Meador says. “If you are pursuing an MBA, try to immediately translate your newly gained business knowledge into tangible action at work, as this can grab the attention of company decision makers and show them what you can do for the company.”

Ask the right questions

Aside from observing people at work, there is probably no better way of learning than by asking questions, especially the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think about what you want to know before you ask about it and don’t ask so many questions that people will think that you’re taking up too much of their time. Of course, when you get answers to your questions, it could raise more questions but if you truly want to learn and better yourself, ask away.

Follow through on all tasks and commitments

“One of the most important things you can do as an employee is to follow through on work commitments,” Meador says. “Do what you say you are going to do in a quality manner, on time and on budget.” Your co-workers and management will see a pattern of reliability from you, which should increase their trust and confidence in your work, she adds. “Over time, this should translate into key leadership taking notice of the value you bring to the organization, and may lead to challenging, promotional opportunities down the road.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on www.forbes.com and written by Jacquelyn Smith.

How to Take Action Even When You Don’t Want To

December 3, 2012

How to Take Action Even When You Don’t Want To

Sometimes we get lucky and things happen on their own; but most of the time, taking any idea from imagination to reality requires action.

Ugh, we hate to hear that! We equate ‘action’ with the dreaded “W word”… ‘work’ – even when it comes to important personal goals. But unless you prefer that your dream live forever in your imagination… or unless you want your boss yelling at you for not completing a task on time… you’re going to have to overcome the oh-so-tempting urge to not do anything. Here is how you can make the process easier and more fun:

1. Chunk it and take small steps. Break down a big task into small intense bursts of activity of no more than 15-30 minutes each. It’s much easier to stay motivated and focused when you know you do not have 8 hours of this task ahead of you. Even if you DO have a full day’s work ahead, breaking up the day into chunks helps prevent overwhelm paralysis. Focus on what you’re doing for a short time, and then let it go. Walk away from it. Give your mind a break and think about something else… and return to it later if needed. Chunking creates steady progressive momentum instead of sporadic leaps.

2. Problem-solve with visualization and a Glass of Water. Use the incredible power of your mind to come up with solutions or find ways to make the task more efficient or easier. The Silva Method centers on using the mind to visualize a desired outcome; and the Glass of Water technique is a command to keep your mind thinking about the problem while you sleep. Solutions tend to inspire action. Self-motivate by visualizing success.

3. Just do it. Quit thinking so much and getting stuck on “what if.” Dive in and start working, whether you feel ready or not. Don’t let “what if” or self-doubt keep you paralyzed into inaction. Learn as you go. NOW is the perfect time to start. Taking action feels good, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing or you don’t know if you’re headed in the right direction. Even if you’re moving in the wrong direction you’ll soon catch yourself and the mis-direct becomes a valuable learning experience. Besides, worrying is a complete waste of mental energy. Put your mind to work more constructively!

4. Talk about it. The more people you tell about a goal, the more likely you are to work it. Holding yourself accountable to others also opens you up to support from people; just be careful not to talk to people who are negative, who worry, who don’t believe in you or who have an agenda that conflicts with your goals. If you can, or if it’s appropriate to the situation, work toward your goals with other people (fitness is one example where groups are great); motivate and support each other, and hold each other accountable. But if you have to do it solo…

5. Hold yourself accountable. Create milestones and honor them. It’s easy to slip into procrastination, laziness or avoidance – but that creates a huge energetic burden to carry around with you. Every time you think about an undone task, you are giving that task energy instead of anything else you could be doing. So… refer back to #3. Just do it and get it out of your hair!

6. Automate it. Make taking action on your important goals a habit, just like any habit you’ve ever created. Using the self-programming techniques in the Silva Method, program yourself to think and act a certain way (for example, whenever a bill comes in the mail, program yourself to pay it immediately; or program yourself to spend 15 minutes a day working on your goals, no matter what). Then, reinforce that new programming with daily repetition for a month or two. It will be weird at first, but soon you’ll get in the groove, become more efficient at it (a sure sign that the habit is being formed) and sooner than you think, taking action on important goals will be a normal part of your everyday routine.

7. Be present. Give your full attention to what you are doing. It’s easy to stay focused for shorter chunks of time and maintain intensity and dedication. You can accomplish an awful lot in a very short period of time. If possible, avoid ALL distractions while you are focused on your task. And give everything you do 100% effort.

8. Instead of a to-do list, make a hit list. Narrow your focus to just a few essential, high-priority tasks that you can manage in a given time. Then focus on them, get them done and move on. IF you have time for the other stuff, great. If not, at least the important things got done.

9. Own it. This goes beyond taking personal responsibility for doing your best work. It also means, whatever you are doing, being present and in control. Instead of having a “I should do this” cloud hanging over you, change your perception of the task and shift your mindset to “I am choosing to do this” (or use your own words to create a feeling of wanting to do what you need to do, and choosing to do it instead of feeling forced to do it). Use the Silva visualization exercises to see yourself having FUN doing whatever you’re doing. Yes, this takes practice but even the most boring or difficult tasks can be made into something fun, if you decide that they are fun.

10. Motivate yourself with a ritual. Take exactly five minutes to clean your workspace, get your coffee or water ready, put the right music on, and get yourself psyched up into “action mode.” Then, refer back to #1, and dedicate an intense 15-30 minutes at a time to what you have to do. Of course if the spirit moves you and you want to spend the entire day immersed in something, go for it! Some days and some activities lend themselves to immersion. For most things, though, less is more.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on http://www.silvamethodlife.com. We do not own the article.

Top tips to make the most of your journey to work

October 28, 2012

Top tips to make the most of your journey to work

How to have a creative commute

Travelling takes up a large proportion of most of our days, with more and more of us prepared to commute long distances to our place of work. But this need not be wasted time — you just need to look at your journey from another perspective.

See your journey as an inspiring time — this will allow you to get the most out of your trip and ensure you start your working day on the right footing.

Still need convincing? We have come up with a few tips to get you started.

Make the most of your journey tip 1: Set yourself a target

When you’re on your way to work, why not think of something that you want to achieve en route, whether it be work-related or something purely for yourself. This may be the one way of not stressing-out if your journey is held up. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you have been able to achieve at least something in that time.Try cycling to work for a healthier, stress-free commute

Make the most of your journey tip 2: Prepare mentally for work

Spend a little time focusing on the day ahead and this will help you adjust yourself to the work place. Get things straight about what you need to tackle that day, and in what order you are going to approach them. A little bit of thought to help you slide into this work mode is time well spent, rather than leaving it to the moment you walk through the door — forcing you to head straight for the coffee machine!

Make the most of your journey tip 3: Recharge your batteries

Although you may not feel fully recharged and ready to tackle the day, there is a lot to be said about thinking positively and putting yourself in the right frame of mind. If your work position requires you to be bold and positive — then think bold and positive, get yourself into that work persona — this will act to both energise you and channel your confidence. If you travel by bus or train, don’t be tempted to have a snooze on the way in, morning naps have little benefit and have habit of making you feel groggy — not the best way to start the day!

Make the most of your journey tip 4: Stimulate your brain

Once you have dealt with the work matters in your mind, the remainder of your time is free for you. It is really time to let your mind wander and stimulate parts of the brain that you may not normally use. If your job requires you to do lots of number crunching, then you could consider doing something more creative, such as jotting down thoughts, drawings or even attempting that novel you have always said you were going to write. Draw inspiration from your surroundings — passing colours and shapes can stimulate parts of the brain that are normally neglected during you working routine. If however, your job requires you to be creative, then do the opposite — try a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.

Make the most of your journey tip 5: Stimulate the body

If you can, walk or cycle to work — this will act as the perfect wake-up as well as getting you to your destination. However, if you are confined to a car, bus or train, how about getting the blood moving by listening to some upbeat music? If you drive, having a good sing can be uplifting and dissolves any inhibitions — it is great to know that nobody can hear you! You could also consider doing some neck and facial exercises or just squeezing a stress ball as you go. Even if you are stuck in traffic — there is always an opportunity to do a bit of stretching.

Make the most of your journey tip 6: Get some fresh air

If you’ve been stuck in traffic, on a stuffy train or bus for some time, then make sure you get some fresh air — don’t just head straight for work. If possible, consider getting off a stop or two earlier, or even parking your car just that little bit further away. Of course, you will need to leave home just that bit earlier, but it will be worth it. You will feel more energised, stimulated, and you will have the opportunity to see things each day that you ordinarily wouldn’t have — all at no extra cost.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on http://www.realbuzz.com.

Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most

October 8, 2012

Personality Fit!

Personality Fit!

Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most
By Meghan Casserly

I don’t care about your degree. Are you the right guy for the job?

I know you: You’ve made looking for your next job, well… your job. You’ve scoured your resume of clichéd buzzwords, brushed up on body language and even gotten a handle on the dreaded video interview.

But all that might be for naught if you just don’t have the personality your dream employer is looking for. New research shows that the vast majority of employers (88%) are looking for a “cultural fit” over skills in their next hire as more and more companies focus on attrition rates. Lucky for you, we’ve drilled down into data from 1,200 of the world’s leading employers (think General Electric, P&G and Accenture) to find precisely the personalities big business is looking for.

Universum, the Stockholm-based employer branding firm that annually surveys over 400,000 students and professionals worldwide on jobs-related issues, has culled their data to the top five personality traits employers are looking for in job candidates in 2012. How’s that for a leg up on the competition?

“We surveyed employers to get a handle on the challenges that face them in hiring,” says Joao Araujo of Universum. “What are they looking for in employees and what are they not finding?” By identifying both traits, he says, aspiring job applicants can both identify the most sought after traits—and brush up resumes and interview tactics to best position themselves.

Professionalism (86%), high-energy (78%) and confidence (61%) are the top three traits employers say they are looking for in new hires. Kathy Harris, managing director of Manhattan-based executive search firm Harris Allied says these first-impression traits are the most critical for employers to prepare for as they all can be evaluated by a recruiter or hiring manager within the first 30 seconds of meeting a candidate.

“A manager can read you the moment you walk in the door,” she says; from the clothes you wear to the way you stand to the grip of your first hand-shake, presenting yourself as a confident, energetic professional is about as basic as career advice gets. But don’t be off-put by this commonplace advice. Harris, who specialized in high-level executive placement says even the most seasoned of CEOs can get tripped up by the basics. Universum clients agree: confidence ranks highest on the list of skills companies think employees are missing most.

“We remind every candidate of the most granular advice,” she says. The most successful applicant is the one who walks into every interview with her hand outstretched for a handshake, has done her homework on the interviewer and company and is dressed to fit effortlessly into the culture of the workplace.

The remaining personality traits that Universum clients say are critical in the hiring process aren’t ones that can be read on-sight but instead call for both resume and interview preparation. To present yourself as a self-monitoring (58%) personality type, Harris says to adjust resume language to call attention to work experience where you’ve worked independently or excelled without the guidance of direct leadership. “In interviews, chose anecdotes that show how you’ve saved, made or achieved in previous positions… and how self-motivation was critical to that success.”

Intellectual curiosity (57%) is, fittingly, a curious trait for Harris, who says she generally advises clients to tightly edit the “hobbies and interests” sections of their resumes. “I’d imagine that in looking for intellectual curiosity employers are looking for two things,” she says. “The ability to problem solve and the ongoing dedication to learning new technologies or solutions that will continue to advance in the changing workplace.” Employers are asking themselves whether new hires will be with the company for the long term, she says. An employee who will grudgingly adopt a new database is not as attractive as one who is truly passionate about learning new things.

Do it the DICE way

October 5, 2012

In Franz Kafka’s seminal work Metamorphosis, the protagonist — a salesman named Gregor Samsa — wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a huge cockroach.

Samsa goes through various stages of coping with his dilemma and once he comes to terms with the fact that he is unable to go back to his old form, he begins to figure out how he can make the best of a bad situation.

Similarly, we may face tough economic times or personal difficulties that disrupt our very existence. For instance, you fear you may not meet your sales targets in the anticipated downturn, or you worry as a small business owner that your keenest competitor will win over your customers.

Whatever the circumstances, you want to survive and thrive; maybe even be an inspiration to people who find themselves in a similar situation.

An effective recipe for navigating life’s obstacle courses is summarised in the acronym DICE. Each letter of the word stands for a quality you need to embrace to ride the waves of uncertainty and end up safely on the shore.

The four ingredients are: Discipline, Integrity, Consistency and Enthusiasm.


Discipline is the ability to govern conduct or activity to achieve a prescribed pattern of behaviour. As American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn says: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

It is discipline that motivates you to carry out dreary but necessary tasks or meet your study goals when you would much rather be with friends at the pub.

As personal effectiveness guru Stephen Covey puts it: “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”

In the corporate world, you will better survive the tough times if you exercise discipline in every aspect of your work. Work hard on building your network of allies, be clear about the goals you are expected to meet, keep your productivity high and contribute in as many ways as you can.

It takes discipline to carry out these activities consistently, but they will contribute to your peak performance — and survival — in the organisation.


Running a business without integrity is like driving a car without brakes. Integrity is the “brake” that allows you to check and measure your performance, and it ensures you do what is right.

Integrity is the foundation of right ethical behaviour. It enables people and businesses to perform effectively without negative consequences resulting from poor ethical choices.


The by-product of integrity is consistency. When you display a high level of integrity, you show you operate from consistent principles and are not easily swayed by the opinions of others.

A consistency of purpose propels you to continuously check and question your actions. When you act with consistency and from principle, people trust and respect you. In an area like sales, much depends on the relationship you build with your clients. If they trust and like you, they will continue to buy from you.


Says Mary Kay Ash, a successful businesswoman and the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics in the United States: “A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.”

In tough economic times, the one thing that will keep you going is enthusiasm. With a positive attitude, your mind will be open to many possibilities and you will find alternative ways to resolve situations that are far from ideal. This will set you apart from others who have simply given up.

As American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed: “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”

(Editor’s Note: Article by Daniel Theyagu, who has conducted training for more than 200,000 people from various walks of life. He runs his own training firm, Lateral Solutions Consultancy. For more information, visit www.thinklaterally.com or e-mail daniel.lateralsolutions@gmail.com.)

10 Tips to be a Good Team Player!

October 3, 2012

Article Written by Rajashree B Mustafi.

A team player is someone who will unite others for a cause by sharing information and ideas and empower them and repose trust in them. So it is essentially shared responsibility, with each team player owning up for what they do.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford

A team player unites others for a cause by sharing information/ideas; empowers them and reposes trust in them. So it is essentially shared responsibility, with each team player owning up for what they do. As in Margaret Carty’s words: “The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side.”

To be a good team player you should possess all these traits or some. You should be:

Adaptable: You have to adapt and mould yourself to fit into the team. Be willing to help others and learn and have the power to think outside the box. You must re-evaluate your role in the team from time to time.

Collaborative: Collaboration is the key to success. You have to meet the challenges head-on as a team. There should be perfect co-ordination among the members and each one of you has to deliver, working together ungrudgingly. For perfect collaboration, you should be focused and result oriented. Your perceptions must be clear, transparent and tangible to the entire team.

Committed: You should be ready to give more than your 100%. Nothing can be achieved half-heartedly. Do not shy away from risks.

Competent: Being competent does not mean possessing the required skills, but that you can execute the job well.

Dependable and Reliable: You should be responsible and possess good judgmental skills. Also, leave scope for someone to hold you accountable. Be consistent while delivering.

Disciplined: Discipline is doing what you really don’t want to do, so that you can do what you really want to do. Be disciplined in your thinking, emotions and actions.

Communicative: Your communication with the team members has to be clear. Put it down in writing, so that everyone is aware of what you are doing lest there is confusion. Be confident and never be jittery about saying what you feel. Also, believe in others before they believe in you.

Enthusiastic: You have to infuse enthusiasm among the team members even during the drabbest exercise. Remember, enthusiasm is contagious.

Goal-centric: You ought to know the goal of the team; the bigger picture has to be loud and clear. Always be prepared to pitch in whenever there is an exigency.

Problem Solver: When your team has to deal with changing conditions, don’t fret or get stressed out because something new is being tried out. Consider different view points and compromise when need be. Don’t be rigid, give your suggestions as well as be open to others’ and see that the outcome is flawless. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer. Remember, don’t get into the allegation mode when things go wrong, be quick on identifying the mistake and rectify it.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Avoid internal politics and be loyal to the team. Value interdependence as it is the most certain way of being a good team player and remember not to give up under dire circumstances but just to refocus on your thinking. Get along with others and support them; recognize and accept their strengths and weaknesses and you can then wear the mantle of a good team player.

This article was first published on http://info.shine.com/Career-Advice-Articles/Leadership-Teamwork/10-tips-to-be-a-good-team-player/1092/cid31.aspx

Keeping Confident to Ward Off the Workplace Vampire

April 4, 2012


“Workers are drawn to those with an upbeat attitude, especially when challenges emerge, and it can start with you. It’s contagious.”
– Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant   

When you think of a person who is effective and successful at work, likely one of the prominent characteristics that individual possesses is confidence.

Confidence suggests a sense of self empowerment and self-love that is steady despite life’s ups and downs.  Of course, this inner core of self-efficacy in the workplace does not start and end there. Rather, confidence is something a person carries within and is a key ingredient not only in work but in life.

When people are confident in themselves, they contribute to making the workplace a positive environment.  People who are confident bring infectious energy to the workplace, as opposed to workplace vampires – those who suck the energy out of the workplace by negativity and drama and can make the workplace tedious.  Workplace vampires tend to blame others for making them feel the way they do instead of taking responsibility. They have little self-reflection towards their poor attitude, and focus on what is wrong rather than what is going well ( as they tend to find fault in everything).  Workplace Vampires tend to be judgmental while lacking insight into themselves. Despite the insensitivity such people display to to others, they are exquisitely sensitive to injustices done to them.

But the paradox does not end there.  Rather, the confident and righteous persona is underscored with emotional fragility and confusion.  To add insult to injury, the individual is so well defended that they have no clue they are that way.  And if they do have a shred of insight into their problems, they are masterful at shifting responsibility and blame their problems on others anyway!

It is important to note that workplace vampires are not bad people – they are unhealthy and no one really means to be unhealthy.  Such individuals lack insight into themselves and spend more time judging others rather than understanding themselves. Ironically, despite their insensitivity, they are often indignant that they do not feel supported at work and their lack of emotional sensitivity and insight puts them on the defensive.

Obviously, the humanly tragic plight of a workplace vampire  does not start and stop in the workplace.  Rather, such behavior is an extension of a greater emotional crippling in the fabric of their personalities, and their real victims are themselves.

So even though the general reaction to the workplace vampire is one of avoidance and anger, remember that no one means to be a workplace vampire. No matter how old they are chronologically, emotionally they are young and stuck in a more emotionally primitive state.  Their own immaturity prevents them from being more positive and “spreading the love.” Keep in mind that workplace vampires are really human – and unhappy humans at that. People who are filled with judgmental and negative thoughts are not happy campers. They are caught in a spiral where problems beget more problems!

Confident people, on the other hand, are more solution-focused instead of being problem-focused.  They remain positive even in face of adversity, and take responsibility of what they can change rather than focus on what they can’t change. Rather than tending to blame others when things go wrong, they size up a situation and focus on what they can do to make things better. In essence, confident people are more resilient and bounce back better from setbacks at work and in life.  All too often people think that being positive means you follow the mantra “Don’t Worry – Be Happy!”  That is far from the truth.  You can still be positive even if you are expressing dissatisfaction, with the goal to find a solution in hopes that things can get better.  Expressing concerns (and even feelings of upset and anger) with the hope that things can improve is positive – not negative.

Thus, keep in mind that expressing negative feelings is not vampire-like if the goal is to be an agent of change to make things better. But keep in mind that you must direct change not through complaining. With this type of attitude, you will not only be an agent of change and a role model for resilience to others, you will also increase your own confidence and sense of empowerment no matter what comes your way.

Improving your own confidence and self awareness will make you more resilient to the workplace vampire and will ensure that you will not get bitten with those fangs and become one yourself!

Article is by Judy Belmont

Now, Do You Have Any Questions?

March 28, 2012


“Who is that hot babe in the picture?” isn’t the type of reply an interviewer expects to hear when he or she invites you to ask questions near the end of an interview. In fact, the way you approach the Q&A session will have a direct impact on the interviewer’s perception of you. Based on the questions you ask, a judgment will be made in regard to how interested you seem to be in working for the company.

For this reason, when you are forming questions ask yourself, What do I need to know about the company in order to determine if this is the workplace for me? How you answer this question depends on the career values that are important to you, and therefore, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. That said, make sure that you do not ask the “What’s-in-it-for me?” type question. Though questions regarding salary, benefits, and vacation time are valid, the place to broach those topics is when an offer is on the table, not before.


Are there any plans for a corporate merger or outsourcing initiatives?

When a merger or outsourcing happens, layoffs follow. Before you accept a position, you should inquire about the direction the company is taking. Many candidates are under the misconception that only failing companies downsize. In truth, no matter how stable they are, companies are always looking to cut costs.

How closely do my qualifications match the requirements for the open position?

Two things can happen when you ask this question. (1) The interviewer can affirm that your experience, skills and abilities are a perfect fit. Needless to say, if that is the interviewer’s response, you have a good shot at landing a job offer. (2) The interviewer may divulge that the company is looking to hire someone with more experience in XYZ. Believe it or not, if this occurs it can work out to your advantage because you have another opportunity to sell yourself.

How long has this position been open?

If the interviewer reveals that the position has been open for three months, you can ask a follow-up question such as, “It is obvious that the company is taking its time in finding the right candidate, and there must have been qualified candidates that have interviewed. What would you say they were lacking that an offer wasn’t extended?” In asking this follow-up question, you will find out exactly what the interviewer is looking for and you can adapt your responses to meet the company’s specific needs.

Are promotions based on seniority or accomplishments?

Some companies still hold on to the old-school mentality where old-timers, no matter their accomplishments or lack thereof, are offered an opportunity to move up the ladder before a new hire gets the same opportunity. You deserve to know that if you put 110% in your work, you will be rewarded accordingly.

If you could change one thing about how this company functions, what would it be?

Just as you are not perfect, neither is a company. Interviewers are aware of this fact and therefore, during the interview process they do their best to sell the organization as a great place to go to every day. It is part of your job to uncover everything about the hiring organization – the good, the bad, and everything in between.


Well-thought-out, clear, and intelligent questions are the ones that leave a positive impression with the listener. Take the time to evaluate what is important to you and form questions around those issues.

Article by Linda Matias

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