The Interview Question That Can Seal The Deal

Interview best question

I’m in the middle of hiring someone to replace my irreplaceable executive assistant, a title that barely does justice (as any executive assistant will tell you) to the extraordinary intensity and intellect of such a job.

The job search has yielded several excellent candidates, meaning that I’ve once again had the opportunity to ask my favorite interview question:

What did you do to prepare for this interview?

Oh, the answers I’ve heard – the good, the bad and the ugly, and so powerfully revealing in each regard.

“I’ve been stalking you for three days,” was one. I loved it! Especially after she described what that stalking involved: Reading virtually everything she could find ever written about me, plus reading or scanning everything I’ve ever written online and in print, including two books. As a result, she came to the interview ready to talk not just about her fit for the requirements of the job – but my interests, values, and, perhaps most impressive, the intellectual content of my life’s work.

Another candidate had this impressive response: “I looked at all of your social media platforms and tried to back out of that what your communications strategy is, and how I would advise you to change or refine it. I also evaluated the marketing plans you appear to have in place for your new book launch, which led me to put together a list of questions.” She opened her folder to reveal just that — a full page of them.

Hello! You’ve walked in the door over-delivering. I like you very much.

Other answers have been rather less mind-blowing.

“Well, I drove here last night with my boyfriend to make sure I didn’t get lost today.”

Another candidate answered, “I read your Wikipedia.”

Both OK, but hardly enough to demonstrate the kind of passion and curiosity I’m looking for, or, most importantly, the resourcefulness. Look, there are plenty of great interview questions out there, and there’s no doubt about it, you need to ask a slew, as well as carefully check references. (I also give candidates a good, old-fashioned editing test.) But this single query has proven its worth to me time and again.

Half the battle in business is being prepared. Make sure the people you hire don’t have to learn that on the job. – Suzy Welch

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Books to Read to Boost Your Networking Skills

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“It isn’t what you know but who you know” is an old saying that still holds true today. In fact, good old-fashioned networking can be the best way to land a new job.

In a survey of nearly 60,000 clients by Right Management, part of Manpower Group, 41 percent responded that they got their current job through networking. When you combine online social networking with the traditional face-to -face approach, you can widen your success rate. One way to do this is by finding former classmates or associates through a site such as LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) and then requesting to meet them in person.

Books to help boost your networking skills

If that sounds easier said than done, maybe your networking skills need a little brushing up. Here are some books to help you do just that.

Books on networking skills – Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (2005)

The secret to networking is building relationships wherever you are and whatever you are doing. In this interesting read, Ferrazzi offers concrete ideas for expanding your network by reaching out to other people in everyday encounters, such as at the health club or at the local store or restaurant.

If you follow Ferrazzi’s plan, it can be life changing. Rather than suggesting you only network with those people who you think can help you get ahead, the author recommends developing a network of genuine relationships in all aspects of your life.

Favorite Quote: “I came to believe that in some very specific ways, life, like golf, is a game, and that the people who know the rules, and know them well, play it best and succeed. And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a members of the “club” whether he started out as a caddie or not.”

Books on networking skills – The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel(2010)

Using his trademark stick figures, Randel uses humor and directness to share his views on networking. This is a quick read, but it offers some clear and easy-to-follow advice on creating and maintaining a solid network.

The book features lessons the author shares with a fictional young couple, Beth and Billy. Along the way, you will gain some simple and effective tips that you can put into action right away.

Favorite Quote: “Networking is not just about business. Networking is about increasing your depth and breadth as a person. What starts out as a business relationship may well end up as a friendship.”

Books on networking skills – Winning with People by John Maxwell (2004)

Would you like to see yourself as others see you? If you could, what would you change? Maxwell takes us on a journey of self-inspection in this book, and his no-nonsense approach may just help you be a better at building relationships.

Maxwell uses examples from people from all walks of life and from his own personal experiences as a pastor to drive his 25 People Principles home. If you are a fan of Dale Carnegie, you will see the two writers have a similar style.

Favorite Quote: “I believe that attitude is the second most important decision anyone can make. (The most important is faith.) Your attitude will make or unmake you. It’s not the result of your birth, your circumstances, or your bank account. It’s all a choice.”

Books on networking skills –Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay (1997)

How many people could you count on if you called them at 2 a.m.? Harvey Mackay uses this question as way of asking his readers to consider the strength of their networks. In this practical book, Mackay shares his own career experience and gives tips on how you can develop our own reliable network. One of the most useful parts of the book deals with small talk and how you can improve this useful but often awkward skill.

Favorite Quote: “Before you meet new people, before you make that call, do your homework. Find that common ground. Determine where their needs and interests lie. Make that connection.”

Books on networking skills – Highly Effective Networking by Orville Pierson (2009)

Networking is simply “talking to people with a goal in mind,” according to Pierson, and he uses this simple definition to broaden the way we look at networking. Pierson encourages us with the idea that we already have a network. We just simply need to know how to use it to get ahead.

The concise book provides a three-part “project plan” for an effective job search, with using your established personal and professional network as a valuable part of that action plan.

Favorite Quote: “When the economy is good, networking is important. In tough time or tough job markets, networking is essential.”