Tag Archives: Interviews

How to Answer Bizarre Interview Questions – Such as: How would you count the hairs on a cat!

imagesA client was asked this question when he was interviewing for a project management role at an investment bank in the City and was given a pen and paper, and calculator! to work it out. He was thankful of this because it gave him time to gather his thoughts and while he didn’t calculate he did scribble down a few thoughts.

His answer was: “He’d weigh one hair, then shave the cat and weigh all the hair he shaved off, he’d then divide the overall hair weight by the individual hair weight to get the number of hairs on the cat. He got the job!

What the interviewers were looking for was a candidate who could demonstrate their ability to think on the spot, showing creativity and intuitiveness as well as logical and practical thinking, including how they would go about solving difficult and even unusual challenges that might arise, and also to have conviction in their answer and the confidence to communicate this. The interviewer is more interested in how you get to an answer, as opposed to what the answer might be.

Such challenging questions are becoming ever more commonplace in interviews it seems, as employers seek to get past the polish and hire the best candidate. With so many self-help websites, candidates can be quite polished on standard interview questions, making it difficult for people to stand out if they ask the routine questions, so doing things differently will help them get to the best candidate.

Evolving Careers Players can help you “Get past the polish to hire the best candidate”. We support our clients in their selection process by devising role-play for real-play workplace scenarios, including a few quirky situations!, allowing you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers. They’re having to react in the moment allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

We deliver corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios, career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre,www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your requirements: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Check out one of the role-play scenarios we set up for a client who wanted a candidate to demonstrate how she would manage a team member who is resistant to being managed by a younger manager. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz3_3b06Kuk

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Red Shoes, the Good Wife and a Pink Purse

????????????????????????????????????????My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house and that wasn’t for a night on the tiles but for everyday occasions like a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories.

A few years ago when my mum was in her early 80’s she asked me if I could pick her up a piece of costume jewellery, she wanted a necklace. I asked what colour she’d like and I suggested perhaps something in beige, because it would be quite versatile and go with everything, like a pair of beige shoes. My mum gave me a horrified look and said she’d never wore beige shoes in her life, it was such a boring and uninspiring colour and that she always wore red shoes because they were more fun and different. My mum was always full of surprises and on reflection her uniqueness always stood out but in a very subtle way, I admit red shoes might not sound that subtle, they do I think give an insight into the fun element my mum has always brought to life and allowed her personality to shine through.

I’m a fan of the TV series The Good Wife and at the end of the 1st series I watched the interview with Daniel Lawson the costume designer where he spoke about the importance of each actor’s wardrobe in helping them develop their character and their story, He strived to have the wardrobe underscore what each actor was doing to help tell the story. It was important that the wardrobe didn’t upstage or detract in any way.

Then as the characters and their stories developed, he began to make subtle changes: for Alisha Florrick as she settled back into work and became more comfortable with her work environment and the situation she’d been saddled with, he began by having her wear more jewellery, allowing a glimpse into her personality. For Diane Lockhart who does pay attention to her style he had her wearing vintage pins which portray her as the businesswoman she is, chic and elegant. For Kalinda Sharma it was all about the job and she wore very minimal jewellery and wearing the same necklace was her thing. He did the same for the male characters in developing their style to support the development of their character and story.

This is the same for professionals in their work today, they want to look the part and they want to be taken seriously for their work but they also want to allow their personality to shine through and whether that’s a subtle development similar to Alisha once they become comfortable in their role and environment, or more obvious as with Diane to portray their fashion sense and being comfortable with their position of power, or like Kalinda keeping it minimal and making it about being good at  the job.  The people I know do this in a way that allows their personality shine through.

Interestingly I was working with a client recently preparing for the interview stages of a significant progressive career change and when she was selecting the clothes she would wear for the various stages of the process she met with a personal dresser who said she has never failed in dressing a client for success at interviews. The interviews were representative of the very different work environments across the world where my client’s work would take her to, from a multi cultural and community relations perspective. She needed and wanted to be respectful of this, while retaining her own style.

For me its my signature perfume, colourful lipsticks and my wacky pink Ted Baker purse, that has started many a conversation and brings a smile to people’s faces, and I think we all need something that allows our uniqueness, personality and fun side to shine through.

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you make an impact in your work through your uniqueness, allowing your personality to shine through. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Hiring the Best Person for the Job

imagesIn a Harvard Business Review article Kevin Ryan founder and CEO of Gilt Groupe suggests  going beyond the referees supplied by a candidate and utilising your network to find mutual contacts who can provide candid feedback  and asking the following questions:

▪ Would you hire this person again? If so, why and in what capacity? Of if not, why not?
▪ How would you describe the candidate’s ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done, and influence others?
▪ What were some of the best things this person accomplished? What could he or she have done better?
▪ In what type of culture, environment and role can you see this person excelling? In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful?
▪ Would you describe the candidate as a leader, a strategist, an executor, a collaborator, a thinker, or something else? Can you give me some examples to support your description?
▪ Do people enjoy working with this candidate, and would former co-workers want to work with him or her again?
▪ In what areas does the candidate need to improve?

Perhaps Kevin’s thinking and approach is quite radical, however its congruent with his philosophy that businesses succeed not because of a unique idea and vision but because of the people and its execution that matters, and execution relies on human talent which demands building and maintaining a high calibre team and in order to do this a candidates true potential needs to be understood. The approach described above supports the right decision being made for important hires and of course all hires are important.

Evolving Careers Players can help you in your selection process. Through Corporate Drama role-play we enable real-play work based scenarios. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareerslayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

To Hire from Inside or Outside – That is the Question

imagesThe market during the downturn provided significant challenges for employers when hiring. Conservative decision-making became widespread, particularly in the form of narrow sector focus and an unwillingness to ‘risk’ transferable skills or experience, seeking the comfort of market expertise. Downsizing within organisations called for restructuring processes where employees had to compete with each other by interview for roles within the new business structure. How can these challenges be overcome in a recovering but ever changing market place.

Ultimately, we must respond to the changing dynamic of the market and look to exploit the opportunities that arise from it – just as hirers become less risk-averse, so do prospective candidates and this provides opportunity to attract candidates with real potential. Recognising potential is key for all companies striving to keep pace with this rapidly changing, increasingly complex world.

The argument for hiring from outside because people from different backgrounds can bring in new perspectives and opinions that will challenge the existing and sometimes stubborn organisations is strong, however promoting from within presents the argument that the inspiration it gives to other insiders helping to keep your talent pipeline strong and motivated.

When hiring from outside you’re forced to write a proper job-spec, consider a larger pool of candidates, grill them in well-structured interviews and conduct in-dept reference checks. This isn’t as easy with internal candidates who are already your colleagues and friends, who will naturally ask ‘aren’t my years of contribution and performance evidence of my qualification?” ‘don’t you know me well enough after this time?’ which in all probability is true but to make it a fair playing field everyone needs to go through the same rigorous process.

Start by defining the profile of the ideal person and consider a wide pool of both insiders and outsiders. To identify the best you need to recognise the people who have the right motives, qualities and potential to help you excel. You need to get past the polish to hire the best candidate. Using role-play for real-play workplace scenarios allows you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers because they’re having to react in the moment allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

There are many challenges when hiring, and anyone who strives to lead from good to great knows the importance of getting things right at the root which is the people. Focusing on hiring for insatiable curiosity and the insight to see connections, to achieve greatness in building and transforming companies that remain at the forefront of society is the key to success. Start from a fair playing field and consider the best people from both inside and outside, surround yourself with the best by seeking out potential because this is what will keep you at the forefront of this recovering but ever changing market place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you in your selection process. Through Corporate Drama role-play we enable real-play work based scenarios. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your requirements: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com