How do you measure
[related questions How do you measure talent in an organisation (or
company or team)? or How do you grow/develop talent in an organisation (or
company or team)?]
"That's a very significant
question. Its implications affect the future health of all organisations -
probably now more than ever.."
"The reason why this is such a
difficult question for modern organisations to address and resolve, is that
while some organisations and leaders know how crucial 'talent' is for their
survival and competitive effectiveness, you can't actually measure and grow
anything until you can define exactly what it is, which is the real
challenge. I believe that you can only begin to measure and develop anything
when you can define exactly what it is. Talent is prime example. The concept of
'talent' alone is completely intangible. It means all sorts of different things
to different people and organisations. Therefore the key to measuring and
growing 'talent' is first to define exactly what 'talent' is - to understand and
describe what it means, what it looks like, how it behaves and what it can
achieve. And these definitions will be different depending on the organisation.
Talent in a bank will have a quite different meaning to talent in an advertising
agency, or in a hospital. So that's the first answer to the question: First you
need to define it and agree the definition, which is likely to be quite and
involved and detailed task, because it's such a deep and serious concept..."
"Aside from defining what talent
is, the organisation needs to acknowledge the importance of talent, (according
to the agreed organisational definitions). This requires a commitment from the
very top, which must be transparent and visible to all. Then people will begin
to value talent more fittingly and preciously. A similar thing happened with the
'total quality' concept, when leaders woke up and realised its significance. But
they first had to define it and break it down into measurable manageable
elements before they could begin to improve it. Talent is the same."
How do/would you optimise performance and lift standards in a team?
[related questions - Explain
your approach to maintaining high standards and improving poor performance in a
"The role of every good leader
is to develop a successor, alongside which is the aim to develop team maturity
so that it can self-manage. This approach fosters high standards and great
performance because the team is being empowered. Open clear positive two-way
communications help to establish team understanding and agreement of aims and
direction (and standards). Involve and consult and enable and coach, rather than
decide and direct and control. People perform and achieve best when pursuing
their own goals and aims, not the ones imposed from outside. The trick therefore
is aligning people with work, so it's meaningful and important".
you ever dealt with a customer making an unrealistic demand?
[related questions - Can you
give me an example where you've had to deal with a customer who has made an
unrealistic or unreasonable demand? or How do you deal with difficult
"Central to this process is
being able to fully understand the customer's position and feelings, without
necessarily agreeing with them. Explaining this difference between understanding
and agreeing at the interview helps the interviewee to demonstrate capability to
deal with these types of difficult situations. Good sympathetic questioning
skills, and a good understanding of the options available to the supplier
organisation in solving problems, are also vital for being able to adapt and
develop mutually agreeable solutions".
How would you respond if
you were offered the job?
Think before the interview and
during the interview: How would you actually respond to this question? If
you'd accept the job and you are really happy and free to do so, then say so.
You have little to gain from being evasive. If you have other options or
commitments that need proper and fair consideration before accepting the job
offer then say so (it does not put you in a very good light if you demonstrate
that you are prepared to treat an existing employer or another potential
employer badly). If you need more information (about package, expectations,
responsibilities, etc) then say so. If the interviewer is being aggressive or
provocative (as can happen in certain sales interviews particularly) you could
say that actually the only way to find out for sure is to make the offer, ie.,
"...make me the offer and I'll tell you..." (the interviewer will not normally
fall for that one of course but at least he/she will see that you can stand up
for yourself, which most tough-nuts will respect).
What would you do if you had to deal with an angry
"Empathise, understand, and as
quickly as possible obtain the customer's trust in your promise to try to
resolve the matter. And then set about finding the facts and resolving it,
working within whatever policies and processes are in place for the particular
problem. The important thing is to remember the difference between understanding
and agreeing - you need to understand without necessarily agreeing or
pre-judging the outcome (unless of course you can actually resolve it an agree
it there and then). And you need to apologise without pre-judging whatever
investigation you need to do or arrange. Finally, take responsibility for seeing
the issue through to the finish, when at the end of it hopefully the customer is
more delighted than they have ever been, (which is often what happens when you
do things properly)."
will you bring to the job/company if we employ you?
"I can see clearly that quick
results are a priority - and that's something I'm good at generating, because I
have good abilities and experience to interpret situations, and then a strong
focus on activities which will achieve change and results in the necessary
"I'm diplomatic with people too, which means I can generally bring people along
with me; if needs be though I can be firm and determined enough to convince
people who need a bit of extra encouragement."
about the culture at your last company/employer.
"The culture encouraged people
to develop, grow, take responsibility. People were coached and mentored towards
quality and productive effort. All of this helped me a great deal because I
identify with these values, and respond to these opportunities."
about your life at College or University (or even your time in your previous
In your answer, emphasise the
positive behaviour, experience and achievements (ideally backed up with examples
and evidence) which will impress the interviewer because of its relevance to the
It's a trap for interviewees who
look regretfully or negatively on past experiences, criticise or attribute
blame, or display 'someone else's fault' attitudes.
College and University are environments which provide lots of opportunity. Good
applicants will be able to demonstrate that they have used the opportunity to
learn and develop, whether their experiences were all positive and successful or
you want to be doing in 2/5/10 years time? Or: Where do you want to be in 2/5/10
"Making a more significant
contribution to whatever organisation I'm working for. To have developed new
skills, abilities, maturity - perhaps a little wisdom even. To have become
better qualified in whatever way suits the situation and opportunities I have.
To be better regarded by my peers, and respected by my superiors as someone who
can continue to increase the value and scale of what I do for the organisation."
"I'd like more responsibility, because that's a result of personal growth and
progression, and it's important for my personal satisfaction."
"I have no set aspirations about money and reward - if I contribute and add
value to the organisation then generally increased reward follows - you get out
what you put in."
"Long term I want to make the most of my abilities - if possible to build a
serious career, but in this day and age nothing is certain or guaranteed; things
can change. I'll do my best and believe that opportunities will arise which will
enable me to keep contributing, increasing my worth, and developing my ability
in a way that benefits the organisation and me."
your ideal job?
'A manager or executive with
this organisation in (function relative to experience and skill set) where I
have the responsibility and accountability for using my skills and efforts to
achieve great results, work alongside great people, and get a fair reward.' 'I'd
like to become an expert in my field (state function if relevant), where I'm
able to use my skills and abilities to make a real difference to the company's
did you achieve in your last job?
Prepare a number of relevant
examples and explain one (two or three if they're punchy and going down well).
Make sure you feature as the instigator, or the factor that made the difference.
Examples must lead to significant organisational benefits; making money, saving
money/time, improving quality, anticipating or creatively solving problems,
winning/keeping customers, improving efficiency.
are your strengths?
Prepare three that are relevant
to the requirements of the role. Be able to analyse why and how you are strong
in those areas. Mix in some behaviours, knowledge and experience and well as
skills, and show that you understand the difference. Style should be quite
confidence rather than arrogant or over-confident.
are your weaknesses?
Start by saying that you don't
believe you are actually 'weak' in any area. Acknowledge certain areas that you
believe you can improve, (and then pick some relatively unimportant or
irrelevant areas). If you must state a weakness these are the clever ones that
are actually strengths: not suffering fools gladly; sometimes being impatient
with other people's sloppy work; being too demanding; refusing to give in when
you believe strongly about something; trying to do too much, etc, etc.
about something recently that really annoyed you.
Don't get trapped into admitting
to a temper or loss of control. Say you tend to get more annoyed with yourself
than with other people or other situations. Annoyance isn't very productive, so
you tend to try to understand and concentrate on finding a way around a problem
or putting things straight.
an example of when you've produced some poor work and how you've dealt with it.
Don't admit to having produced
poor work ever. Say you've probably made one or two mistakes - everyone does -
but that you always do everything you can to put them straight, learn from them
and made sure you'll not make the same mistake again.
you plan and organise your work?
"Planning and writing a plan is
very important. I think how best to do things before I do them, if it's unknown
territory I'd take advice, learn from previous examples - why re-invent the
wheel? I always prioritise, I manage my time, and I understand the difference
between urgent and important. For very complex projects I'd produce quite a
detailed schedule and plan review stages. I even plan time-slots for activities
that aren't in themselves organised, like thinking time, and being creative,
solving problems, etc."
many hours a week do you work/prefer to work?
"It varies according to the
situation. I plan and organise well, so unless there's a crisis or unusual
demand I try to finish at a sensible time so as to have some time for my
family/social life/outside interests. It's important to keep a good balance. I
start earlier than most people - you can get a lot done before the phones start
ringing. When the pressure's on though I'm happy to work as long as it takes to
get the job done. It's not about the number of hours - it's the quality of the
work that you do; how productive you are".
Do you make mistakes?
Be honest. "Yes of course on occasions, but I obviously try not to, and I
always try to correct them and learn from them".
What do you know about our
If you can relate your knowledge to the area
that you would be involved in, it would show that already you have an active
interest in the organization. For example, if you were interested in marketing,
"I understand that you are one of the top 10 companies in sales to Europe but
are currently interested in expanding your market into Asia. Competition is
keen in that area but you have an advantage in that you product offers features
that others do not, such as....."
It is not only showing that you have done the
research but also that you like/know what you have learned about the company and
have applied it to how you can add value in the position.
Why do you want to
leave this job after only four months?
Well, why did you? What is the closest to the
1. Job was not as it was described to me
2. Organization changed its focus/goals
3. Organization could not effectively use my talents/skills
4. Change in management...wanted to bring in own staff
5. Downsizing, reorganization
All of these will probably prompt a follow-up
question. Do not fabricate...but most interviewers have heard these stories
before and really are not interested in all the gory details. (Note that this
job need not be included on your resume since it was of such a short duration
but may have to be included in a application form if it looks to account for all
Circumstances also come to play...did you leave
your other job to take this 4 month job? or did you 'try' it while already
unemployed...hoping for the best? If you were recruited to change jobs, there
is a lot of room for exaggeration in a sales pitch, and many employees have been
If you have held other jobs for substantial
periods and you took the other job in good faith, stress your past performance.
You are not a capricious person---job hopping. You have skills to offer and
want to put them into good use.
What do you wish to
gain from our company?
Excellent question! Research is the answer
(know everyone is tired of hearing this but we feel this is one great way for
applicants to make a difference in their candidacy). Determine some of the key
elements in the corporate structure, product base, employees/management team or
recent history. What appeals to you about working at this company? Go with
what you know.
"In the past, I have had opportunities to work
on new products being launched. I am very excited about your plans to start an
entire new line of products. With my prior experience I know I can provide
insights and make contributions immediately and I will also learn so much from
the excellent team you have in place. Having done single products, I would love
to be in on the give-and-take meetings planning the new line...there is much I
can offer but also much for me to learn."
Finding something specific...the opportunity to
use a new technology, a new skill, to work with 'experts on their team"...are
ways for you to find job satisfaction, which is another way of asking this
What do you think the
employee's responsibilities are to the company?
As an employee you have several
responsibilities to your employer. They are as follows:
- to perform a good day's work
- to be loyal
- to act as part of the team
- to value the relationship
- to earn the employer's trust
- to grow with a passion for the
Why do you want to
When asked on an application, "If
presently employed, why do you wish to change positions", what do you put down.
The reason I am changing positions because the company I am applying at is known
nationwide I want to work for a company with their background and one that I can
This same question is sometimes asked on
interviews as well so it is important to have a good answer. Additionally, if
you decide to leave your current employer, it is also wise to have consensus as
to the reasons that you are leaving.
It already sounds like you have positive
reasons for wanting to work for the national company---go with that. Use your
research to put forth several points about the company that you feel will be a
great match (for the company) and suit your particular skills and experiences.
Emphasize the fact that this opportunity to work for them is 'just what you have
been looking for' because....and then go into several ways you can add value to
Remember, when asked why you left, do not
downgrade in any way your prior/current employer...leave the interviewer with
the feeling that you have only been associated with winners! Do not go into the
'I can retire from this job' aspect; it can have negative connotations. Present
yourself as a vital, enthusiastic employee that can offer experience to their
organization...for many years to come. Note: If appropriate, point out that
you are not just 'looking around' but are sincerely interested in working for
this particular company and that you are not a 'job-hopper' but are interested
in a long-term career move
(Keep watching this space we are
compiling more questions and answers asked in airline interviews and will be
placing here for our student community)