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5 Questions To Ask During An Interview

5 Questions To Ask During An Interview

As the 21st-century workforce continues to evolve, there will be significant changes to employee demographics, work types, work arrangements, expectations, measurements, benefits and much more, however, one must not forget that at the core of any career, business engagement or opportunity are people and relationships.

So, the ability to deal effectively and appropriately with people will remain in high demand. One of the critical attributes of these people includes their ability to have an engaging conversation, be empathetic, and ask appropriate questions. It is thereby interesting to note that those that ask questions attract more insight and stand a better chance during job interviews.

Job Interviews

Asking the right questions during a job interview is one way to show capability and aptitude. There is evidence that an engaging and prepared candidate leaves a great impression and stands a greater chance of a second interview or getting the job outright. The truth is that asking question extends the interview conversations and provides the recruiter or interviewer the opportunity to know your capabilities and context.

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While there are no ideal questions, there are certain questions that reveal one’s degree of preparedness and the truth about asking question is that it extends the interview process and provides the recruiter or interviewer the opportunity to know you as a candidate in a broader context. Listed below are 5 questions to ask during a job interview.

1. Most valuable resource

Start by asking, “What do you call your employees?”

This question goes to the core of identity within the organization, as it seeks to clarify the premium placed on employees. In some organizations, employees are referred to as associates, or co-owners, or servant leaders or volunteers or simply employees. Whatever employees are called isn’t necessarily the bigger issue, it is truly about understanding how leadership or management think about their most valuable resources – people.

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2. Organizational reward

During your interview, your focus should be on recognition rather than compensation. Be aware that until an offer has been made and you’ve accepted, everything you say and do is under evaluation. It is very crucial that you do not send the wrong vibe or leave a negative impression with your interviewer(s).

So to ensure there are no surprises, here’s a secret. Inquire about the organization’s outlook on great work. You need to eliminate the ambiguity, so ask what it means to have done an amazing work. Follow up with these clarifying questions:

What does great work look like? What happens to those who have done great work in the past? Then ask why the organization rewards good work. Before long you are discussing rewards, money and compensation. Now isn’t that what you wanted to find out? Exactly!

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3. Failure and learning opportunities

Failure is natural and a critical part of the learning process. The “fail forward” philosophy is only as valid as the opportunities available to fail and learn. In many instances, organizations simply pay lip service to failure and often avoid these uncomfortable discussions.

But the truly great organizations and leaders do not hide from failures. They actually internalize and appropriately extract learnings from failures. They inevitably fail forward.

So ask how and why people fail, follow it up with what does the organization do with failures? The answers provide insights into an organization’s risk appetite and approach. These are the amazing clues, that must not be ignored.

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4. Decision making and management

In some organizations, decisions are made promptly, in others haphazardly. It is important to understand the core from which decisions are made. Are organizational decisions made by a few, how and when are those decisions communicated to the others? The answers to this question reveal the dynamics of management as well as the salient attributes of leadership.

5. Leadership matters

There is a lot riding on and attributed to leaders. In particular, there is a direct correlation between leadership and individual success in organizations or corporations. So it is absolutely important to know the leadership style of your immediate boss as good as possible. The insights gleaned from this question are critical clues that must not be ignored.

Featured photo credit: Rajiv Patel via flickr.com

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Dr. Flo

Executive Director, Hybrid Leadership Institute

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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