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“The key mistake I learned through experience is not to hire someone because you ‘like’ them in the interview process. Liking the candidate does not necessarily mean they are equipped for your role. My stability questions can eliminate a candidate if ‘red flag’ answers come out. My curiosity questions center around work ethic. Is the candidate a problem-solver? Will they look at things differently? Are they self-motivated, or do they need a lot of direction? Can they think analytically? These questions do not eliminate a candidate, but it lets me know if they are right for the particular role we need to fill. Capacity really means ‘can they do the job.’ I always want to probe their past experience. I also find these questions can tell me about my first two categories when candidates elaborate about previous jobs. One of my other keys is to ask the questions randomly to make sure the candidate doesn’t contradict previous answers. I will also re-ask a question if a candidate ‘missed’ the answer. It is a telltale sign to see if the candidate can take direction and feedback.”
“I will also look at how developed and polished their interpersonal skills are, and what kinds of things they like to do when they aren’t working. Particularly as it relates to senior executives, we are looking for people that are not only highly qualified, but people that are going to appreciate and fit into a culture that values collaboration, mutual respect, team-building, and really values being part of a highly functioning team. It is critically important that for everyone’s sake we hire a person that we are all going to enjoy spending our time with, while they are, of course, kicking ass in their functional area.”
“Second, a drive to succeed. I listen for examples of success — and failure — in the context of trying to create or build something. When have they put themselves ‘out there’ to get something done, even if it didn’t work out? Here you can also get a sense of their ability to think strategically. And then I look for humor and empathy. There are good days and not so good days in everyone’s lives and in every business environment. Humor and empathy are two of the best characteristics that help us all traverse difficult times. We want people who can laugh, have fun, and who genuinely care about others across every group. In the end, it’s these qualities in people across your team that really create a culture that is genuine and sustainable regardless of the environment that swirls around the business.”
“Avoid the typical questions: I don’t advocate asking the typical interview questions. Most candidates are prepared for them and you don’t get a real feel for what this person might be like to partner with in the workplace. I prefer to walk them into a small group setting and let them participate in some way. This format gives you an opportunity to see how they interact. Do they have a collaborative style? How do they express their point of view? How do other staffers react to them? My favorite question to ask is: If you could change something about your current company, what would it be? The answer in many cases gives you some real insight into the type of perspective they have. Is it a legitimate concern? Does it focus on their personal success or the company’s success? Also, be thorough. Don’t shortchange the background work.
“Finally, for me, there are a few specific qualities that are very important in any hire — loyalty, competency and work ethic immediately come to mind. The one that stands out for me is work ethic. You can develop an employee’s skills in a number of areas, but in my experience work ethic is not one of them. It is also happens to be the most difficult attribute to ascertain from an interview. Complacency is a culture killer in any company.”
“Also, specificity is key — specific examples of what they have done and how they might handle certain situations goes a long way to determining how they would think and act in the role. I’ll ask about current events connected with the position, the sport, our company, or the industry, to demonstrate if they have done their homework. I put a lot of stock in the type of questions they ask me — it shows their ability to comprehend information in real time and how well they listen.”
Some of his nontraditional questions? “What is the most recent thing you learned that globally helps you do your job better?” Why that? “I like to see how far they will reach beyond their own playground. Do they have examples of learning from business leaders, areas of business other than their own — the arts, for example. I really am just looking for something that demonstrates a balanced life, more than just sports.” He also asks, “If offered the position, who are the first five people that you would call to tell them you got the job?” What is he looking for there? “I am looking for a diverse population of people that would be reasonable to provide mentorship, counsel and advice.” He also likes to surprise and ask, “Are you qualified to do this job?” Why that one? “I just like to see how people react to this one. Are they arrogant? Confident? Passive or apologetic? How do they react with the shock question?”
Strong ideas and suggestions, and I want to thank each of them for sharing. I’ll share more thoughts as I receive them about this challenging topic.
Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at email@example.com.
In the best of circumstances, these tools facilitate the dissemination of information, generate enthusiasm and dialogue, and, as recent events have necessitated, serve as an instrument in reinforcing force protection/security policies. In uncertain times, when events are confronted with unexpected challenges or unplanned influences, these assets offer a streamlined channel of communication to the end user, enabling events to educate, inform, assist or empathize.
At the Marine Corps Marathon, the social media mission is to maintain meaningful dialogue and sustain the excitement and motivation individuals have during the annual planning, training and celebrating cycle. This was never more evident than on March 27, when record-breaking registration experienced significant technology failures.
Runners posted that they were memorizing credit card numbers, employing multiple technology devices, and taking a day off work to be at their computers and gain every possible advantage to secure
As the days leading to registration approached, MCM Facebook posts began escalating, with thousands of likes, hundreds of shares, and comments expressing a dual emotion of excitement and nervous anticipation. Runners shared that getting into the event might actually be more challenging than running it — and this proved to be prophetic, as the masses converged on the website when registration opened. The registration platform put up a good fight for about 90 seconds before system failures began to erupt.
A lava-hot flow of frustration, anger and confusion descended on the MCM Facebook page, our fickle friend. As organizers, we were in communication with the platform administrators who offered various explanations but couldn’t solve problems fast enough. Therefore, it becomes necessary, when in the face of great public outcry, to employ the full power of social media and simply communicate by following these basic precepts:
■ Be present
It is impossible to hide from Facebook as consumers fill the space with messages seeking help and understanding or simply to vent. They know the organizers are monitoring. As soon as a problem is identified and builds in credibility and scope, a message must be delivered. As MCM staff and the registration company collaborated to understand and diagnose the technical shortcomings, the social media coordinator thoughtfully responded to individual tweets with encouragement and as much relevant guidance as available at a given time. On Facebook, would-be runners read several short, carefully drafted posts intended to establish the event’s awareness of the circumstances. Additionally, many runners received individual responses to posts that were determined to be beneficial to the ongoing conversation. The MCM’s consistent messaging was lauded in online registration-related news coverage and applauded by runners. One story went so far as to timestamp each of the event’s tweets in the retelling of the episode.
■ Be honest
Incomplete isn’t bad. The registration situation was dynamic, and rather than delay responding in hopes of arriving at concrete answers, we accepted the approach that our messages would evolve. This type of communication established the true connection that we, organizers and participants, were in this together.
■ Be transparent
No organization wants its customers to experience anything less than a successful interaction with the brand. The registration frustration was considerable for runners but truly disappointing for organizers, who supervised a month of thorough testing intended to avoid such a meltdown. Acknowledging the emotions expressed through social media, sharing the organization’s feelings, and explaining everything that can be explained goes a long way in diffusing a volatile situation.
In the end, the MCM registration still broke the record by 14 minutes, selling out in just two hours and 27 minutes. While this was not a victory the organization felt like celebrating, ultimately we did win the day by turning the online sentiment from, “You know, if you are going to build excitement with countdowns and constant updates, you really ought to be ready for the resulting traffic,” to “Your responses to yesterday’s difficulties registering actually make me want to run the race more now than I did before. I’m very impressed.”
Marc Goldman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sponsorship and marketing manager for the Marine Corps Marathon.