A quick before and after video on how to improve your video interview or conference.
Interviewing and Job Tips
A number of clients and other companies are beginning to inquire about two characteristics in their STAR questions in the interview process: Grit and Adaptability. As the pace of business becomes faster and the availability of data is easier to attain the ability to adapt quickly is becoming a characteristic in increasing demand.
I’ve asked a special guest to go into detail about grit and adaptability as he has had to exhibit those in his career. Jeff Boss graduated from THE Ohio State University and immediately joined the Navy to become a SEAL. He went through BUD/S a few times due to injuries, successfully completed BUD/S and SEAL training to earn his Trident. After a few deployments he set his sights on joining the most elite SEAL unit: DEVGRU ( SEAL Team 6). During his time at DEVGRU he continued on despite multiple parachute malfunctions and getting shot twice.
After retiring from the Navy he decided to launch his own coaching practice and now provides leadership training to corporations. Jeff leveraged his experience in the SEAL teams and is teaching those leadership lessons to managers to develop elite teams. In addition he is a published author, hosts a podcast and is a distinguished speaker.
You can learn more about Jeff and find his social media accounts at www.shutupandshowup.com
There are several websites, such as Reddit, which have features that allow the website visitors to submit questions to “celebrities” and have the answers posted online for all too read. President Obama, Bill Gates, Bono and others have participated in the “Ask Me Anything” forums. I thought it would be interesting to take the same approach with a person responsible for providing coverage policy recommendations with a large payer and submit those questions anonymously and post the answers.
No question is off-limits and I believe it may provide some valuable insights to the current payer environment. The anonymous approach will hopefully promote those questions you’ve always wondered about but were afraid to ask. The person on the other side answering the questions is with a large payer with millions of covered lives and responsible for providing coverage recommendations.
I will collect and submit the questions and follow up with a post with the answers.
Email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love this saying: The only difference between warm water and boiling water is one degree.
Most of the conversations I have as a recruiter from an entry level employee to the C-level revolves around finding opportunities to take them to the next level. At times, the mistaken belief is the only way to find a promotion is to interview for it. The other option would be to re-evaluate your current work habits and performance, good and bad, to find the one degree to get from tepid performance to red hot and become promotable with your current employer or more marketable to other potential new employers.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. If you’re strong in one area, it can create a weakness in another. The art of being self-aware and really knowing your own weaknesses is an extremely difficult exercise but the high performing executives I’ve talked to have been able to look at themselves and actively focus on their weaknesses and eliminate them. They’re really good at taking an honest personal inventory and really pressing those around them to provide honest feedback on areas they can improve upon. They take to heart performance reviews and never let the same issue twice come up. They’ve learned to do this themselves but sometimes some of us have to get help from someone to achieve this.
Very few managers really take to heart the bullet point in their job description to manage and improve their team. Wait, the sentence sounded really bad, please hear me out. Their focus is on improving performance of their team by providing feedback, tools and guidance to their team but there are times when a manager doesn’t have the time nor the aptitude to improve “soft-skills” such as public speaking, gaining credibility in a meeting, proper work habits and gaining a growth mind set. Here’s an idea for those who want to improve: work with a coach to gain those skills to improve those weaknesses and have your current employer ask you to move to the next level.
There are coaches and instructors for driving, golf, baseball, home organization, cooking, skydiving, dog behavior, painting, etc. What I think is hilariously missing are some of the most important and most challenging activities where we need help such as parenting or a professional business and performance coach.
There are times, if you have the self-awareness to know you need to work on something but you don’t want to turn to your manager for help, where it makes sense to work with a coach on job performance or the skills needed to perform at a high level in a business setting.
I had to take my own advice recently. I started my own recruiting firm and I was too focused in the start up stages to be scared. Being scared came a few months after it was up and running. All of my insecurities of “doing my own thing” came focused on one activity crucial for growth: business development. For years and years, I performed this activity with little to no fear but all the sudden it became incapacitating for me to make a call and try to gain new business. Instead of looking forward to the potential of a new project to recruit on my mind was focused on fear and worrying the name and logo I chose were stupid or if I the website I designed would make a good impression.
Even if I had a manager I could turn to it’s doubtful I would go to them and say I was afraid to make a business development call. Imagine a medical device sales guy talking about being afraid to his sales manager, it’d be a short conversation and the salesman would likely be on the job market. I had to fix it and I wasn’t able to do it by myself.
Over the last year I’d been reading a blog by an executive coach named Jeff Boss. His focus on coaching was taken from years of experience and lessons learned from his time in the Navy Seal all-star team called DEVGRU (Seal Team 6). If that credential isn’t impressive enough he contributes to Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur and just released his first book. I called and arranged a time to talk and I was more than a little hesitant to begin talking about my fear of making a phone call with a guy who jumped out of planes (at night, over hostile territory, loaded with gear, wearing night vision googles and an oxygen mask) but he was super humble and really focused on working with me to re-frame that activity to something which was more of a growth minded mindset versus something which created fear. Imagine having a resource where the first question of the call is: “By the end of the call what do you want to achieve or solve?”.
Sometimes we need to get out of our ecosystem of advice givers or managers and move to a professional to help us improve ourselves to the point where we approach our work differently and more effectively. I imagine a point in the future where I’ll look outside to provide input on hiring top performers, more effective leadership and provide the opportunity for my team to work with a coach to improve themselves if they so desire. It’s an investment which will provide a return. For someone new to management it’s a great opportunity to get input and avoid rookie mistakes.
I’ve paid for coaches for my kids to learn tennis and improve their swing in baseball. The idea of hiring a coach for me to become better in my professional life has been a bit of a game changer. It’s a cost which provides a financial return and I view it as an investment. Spending a little money to improve my work productivity or increase my income is a dividend which will pay for itself year over year.
Sometimes you have to look for help from someone outside of the organization you’re with to find the one degree to get you to the boiling point.
If you’re interested speaking with Jeff, he offers a free consult. His contact info is below:
The variety of topics he can coach on ranges from personal development, organizational leadership, team leadership and adapting to changing business conditions.
What’s the best way to answer one of the most diabolical interview question: “Tell me a little bit about yourself”?
Answer in two minutes and tell a story. Here’s mine:
I was born in Ohio but I can’t tell you where I grew up.
I ran track and cross country in high-school while I worked delivering pizzas or bussing tables. I was bored of green grass so I moved to the high desert of Colorado after I graduated. I studied business in college and married the girl I went to my high school prom with.
I fell in love with cycling and raced a bit. My longest was 100 miles and my shortest was about 200 feet when I was caught up in a big wreck.
After school I really took to sales and I moved from entry level positions to business development for an airport engineering consulting firm. I was away from home too much and I had a few white knuckle moments in their small plane while meeting with clients. I was gone quite a bit and I missed some things my kids did for the first time so I wanted to be there more for my two kids; a son and daughter. So I looked for a position that I could earn what I put in and enjoy spending time with them.
I moved to recruiting about 10 years ago and did well enough to win several awards, see exotic places from trips I’ve won and had the chance to move back to Ohio.
I’ve coached baseball since my son could throw and have completed a few sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. I’d love to coach my daughter but she is into children’s theater and I can’t help out much with that.
There ya go. I’ve spent less than two minutes but I’ve made myself three dimensional to the interviewer. Hopefully the interviewer is a cyclist, runner or really wants to be home more. The more opportunities we get to “click” with the interviewer the higher our chances are to move on to the next step.
Disclaimer: So I completed my first podcast and I was awful. My guest was great, he was articulate, had great points and he passed along some great lessons that will benefit the listener. The awfulness certainly did not come from him but rather his interviewer, me. I talk with talented people everyday but I’ve never conducted a podcast so I was nervous and when someone is under pressure or stress they tend to resort to bad habits. Read my post before you listen to it. The link to the podcast is at the bottom.
Prior to listening to the first podcast I conducted I had grandiose visions of my little podcasts going viral and having NPR and the BBC reaching out to me so I could interview industrial captains, entertainment moguls and an occasional local politician who was caught accepting bribes. It might happen but it’s going to be a while because I have significant room to improve. I knew it was awful because I took my guest’s advice of conducting an After Action Report.
My first interview was with Jeff Boss. Jeff was a Navy SEAL and made it to DEVGRU, which is the All Star Team of the SEALs, and typically responsible for missions movies are made of. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor 4 times along with two Purple Hearts. He is smart, focused and a super high achiever. The road to making it to DEVGRU is both physically and mentally challenging and a very small number make it there. It is a very impressive achievement and after retiring from the Navy he joined The McChrystal Group where they help organizations bring Special Operations organizational effectiveness, leadership and management lessons to businesses.
The one piece of advice Jeff had in our conversation was to get in the habit of conducting an After Action Report. An After Action Report (AAR) is the process in which his SEAL team would meet after a major training exercise or mission to have an open forum of what they did right, what they did wrong and what could have been improved upon. I‘d encourage you to read an article he wrote about it on his blog: http://www.jeff-boss.com/the-organizational-f-bomb-part-iii/ and http://www.jeff-boss.com/performance-tools/
I took his advice and conducted an AAR on my podcast and it was painful. It was painful because my vision of my performance did not match the reality. The vision I had of myself was one of speaking eloquence and a natural curiosity which led to interesting questions. The eloquence needs significant improvement and the only way I would have known about it was the painful process of listening to it and critiquing my performance.
My bad habits and areas of improvement:
Bad habit: I think as I talk which leads to “Uh’s”, “Um’s” and “So’s” and it comes across sounding non-professional, not preparing and definitely not eloquent. We gain habits in our mannerisms of speech and body language and bad habits can creep into those if we don’t see or hear ourselves as we do it. Most of the time our habits occur without us ever realizing we’re doing them.
Solution: Think then speak. Our brains like and perform at its peak doing one thing at a time. A pause before speaking is much better than “Uhhh” or “Ummmm” in the middle of a sentence as you try to let your thoughts catch up to your speech. PRACTICE this!! Bad habits don’t fix themselves and they need a focused plan to correct them. I now have a piece of paper on my desk I look at when speaking and I make an X if I hear myself falling back into bad habits. I’m on my second page of X marks but I am now aware and focused on correcting them.
Bad habit: Assuming you can perform “On the Fly” or “Make it up as you go along”. I felt I was prepared for the interview. I did my research on Jeff, well what little research could be accomplished during his time as a SEAL, his current position and the articles he has written. The majority of his career was literally Top Secret and I certainly did not want to question him about things he couldn’t and wouldn’t talk about. I also felt I could come up with questions as we began talking. I was able to do that in some cases but there were times when I couldn’t think of the next question and I’d panic then resort to the coping mechanism of “Uhhh” or “Umm” to allow myself some time to think.
Solution: I need to determine the overall objective and a plan to fall back on when I wasn’t able to come up with the next step in the process, which in this case was the next question. I will write down the objective and the questions needed to gain my stated objective so I can evaluate it afterwards. Most importantly nothing ever goes according to plan so having a go to list or contingency plan is a good idea.
Bad habit: I did not test the technology but assumed it would work the first time. I decided to conduct a video interview with Jeff. It was the first time I’ve tried recording a video interview and I didn’t have time to properly test the setup and most importantly review the results of how the software recorded the video. The audio did not match the video but I was able to strip out the audio and convert it to a podcast.
Solution: Test technology before it is utilized in a real world situation.
I could continue writing additional points in my own AAR but I hope you get the picture. The key take away is to record your performance, whatever it is, conduct an AAR, then focus on improving on those areas which need it. It’s painful but necessary for getting better in whatever you do. My future podcasts may not be perfect but with an AAR at least I now have a process to improve them.
My ego told me to toss this podcast out the window but Jeff invested his own time to participate in it and he had some really great points and lessons that most of us can benefit from. I certainly did.
You can listen to the podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-lewis-77/jeff-boss-interview
Some exciting things happening. I’m kicking off a video interview series. Sign up on my blog to be notified when positions and interviews are posted at www.jason-lewis.me
Scheduled interviews are:
Jeff Boss, Crossleader at the McCrystal Group. We will be talking about how a SEAL would interview candidates in the corporate world, performance improvement and effective management skills.
Will Rutan, CEO of Mederi Therapeutics, who will be providing some insights on market access and reimbursement from a CEO’s perspective.
If you have any questions you’d like me to ask, please let me know by emailing them to email@example.com or in the comments section.
I was helping my 14 year old with his math homework. It was pretty challenging as it was “new” math and also because the questions are being asked as a question instead of an equation. I was trying to give him additional questions to work on and I came up with the following question:
John is a Director with a mid-sized biotech company. He has managed a team of 10 in his current role for 8 years and also managed a team of 12 people for 10 years before his current role. His team members average 4 years on his team and in subsequent positions. How many times does John get called on to do a reference check per year?
Answer: Extra credit for the person who actually figures this out, but you have to use “New Math” to do it. The quick answer is: A LOT. The manager in the above example is a typical biotech manager and the difference between getting an offer and not can come down to how well your old manager remembers you.
The goal of a reference check from your potential employer’s perspective is to make sure their impression of you is correct from what they saw in the interview process. They also want to see if they may have missed something and really want some assurance they’re making the right decision. So there are a few tips that I would like to pass along which a candidate can do to insure the reference check “seals the deal” for their new manager.
The most effective way for you to help your references and increase the odds you’ll get the new job is to send them an email with a cheat sheet containing the information they need to help you on the reference check call.
Here are a few tips to make sure your references make the same positive impression you did:
- Make sure your reference check knows a potential employer will be calling to conduct a reference check for a job you’re really interested in. I suggest emailing your past manager a few things such as: The company, the position, what the hiring manager’s challenges are and send them a shortened version of the job description.
- Include in the email your resume and be sure to highlight your dates of employment, your achievements, the reason you left the company and any of your accomplishments in your past job that would be of particular interest to your new employer.
Reference check calls are usually conducted towards the tail end of the interview process and at times the new hiring manager could be on the fence about the candidate. The best reference check calls are the ones when I hang up the phone I’m truly excited about the person I presented and all of my impressions were correct.
I’ve included a template of the email all of your references should get when you know they will be called.
Hi [Insert name], thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with a potential manager I’m interviewing for. I am sending you this email to refresh your memory of me to help you on the call. I’ve also included a copy of the resume the new manager has on file.
I am interviewing for a [Insert position] position with [Company name]. [Insert caller’s name] will be calling you to conduct a reference check call.
I worked at [Company name] from [Insert Dates]. I left the company because [Insert reason]. The position I am interviewing for requires:
Insert 3 bullet points of the main requirements for the new position
My past experience at [Company name] is a good fit because I was able to achieve:
Insert a few bullet points reminding the manager of the successes you had while you reported into them.
Again, thank you for taking the time out to speak with [Caller’s name]. I hope I am able to call you back and let you know I got the job.
Taking a few moments to refresh your past manager’s memories could be the difference between no offer and a great offer.
As an executive recruiter I’ve debriefed scores of hiring managers after the interview and I see a number of questions that are typically asked. Where you can really stand out from your competition is by answering them honestly so they’re specific to you.
You see a lot of articles giving advice on how to specifically answer questions often asked in a job interview. If you follow that advice the law of averages will catch up with you and you’ll give the exact same answer your competition gave.
To do this you’ll need to prepare for the interview more extensively and put some thought into it and most importantly be honest with the answers. Most hiring managers have interviewed enough people to see when someone isn’t being honest. Stand out by being yourself and answering honestly.
The most common questions where you can be a hero or zero are usually asked at the beginning of the interview to break the ice. The interviewer is trying to see you in three dimensions. Most candidates will assume they can answer these questions on the spot however its usually not the case.
Here are the common questions:
Tell me a little about yourself: This is a great opportunity to make yourself three dimensional with the interviewer. I encourage my candidates to mix both professional and personal aspects to this question. It’s a home run if you mention you’re a triathlete and the hiring manager is one as well. Your goal with this question is to find something in common with the interviewer so the two of you “click”. The best way to answer this is to prepare a 2 minute story about your life and how you got to be where you’re at currently in your personal and professional career. The most effective way to create this story about yourself is bullet point the highlights of what you’ve done. Read articles on how to tell a good story and then bullet point out the most interesting aspects of yourself and your accomplishments.
Why do you want this job?: Have 3-5 points why you’re passionate about this opportunity. Incorporate the research you’ve completed about the company and add this in to your answers. Dig deep and find information that most other people wouldn’t know about. Recent press releases and quarterly investor relation reports are great sources of information.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?: This is the most challenging of the typical interview questions. You know your own qualities so be honest when answering this question. Describing your strengths is easy for most people. The weakness portion though can be challenging. The interviewer is not looking for someone who is perfect, they know no one is, what they’re looking for is your knowledge of your weakness and do you let it get the best of you. Answer with an honest weakness and tell them your strategy of not letting it get the best of you. Please, please do not answer this with you are challenged with working too much or work/life balance. Every person who has interviewed someone has heard that answer.
Why are you looking to leave your current position?: This question is best answered if you view the job interview as a first date. Be as honest as you can with your answer without being TOO honest. You want to give the impression you’re running to their position versus running away from a job you don’t enjoy. It may take several drafts to craft the answer.
The best way to make a positive impression in an interview is to “click” with the interviewer, being prepared, come across as thoughtful, honest and most importantly knowing thyself.