“This recent storm resulted in a loss of power at the shop so I closed early. I need to know whether or not I have to pay employees for the full day when it wasn’t my fault they couldn’t work.”
“This recent storm resulted in a loss of power at the shop so I closed early. I need to know whether or not I have to pay employees for the full day when it wasn’t my fault they couldn’t work.”
Repost from http://www.businessinsider.com/questions-to-ask-in-every-job-interview-2016-10
It’s important to remember that every interview is a two-way street.
You should be assessing the employer just as much as they’re assessing you because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
So when the tables are turned and the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this opportunity. It’s the best way to determine if you’d be happy working for this employer, and whether your goals are aligned with theirs.
“The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager’s perception of you,” says Teri Hockett, a former CEO and career strategist. “Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled.”
Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, says there’s another reason you should always prepare questions. “It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.” You should have at least four questions prepared, though, in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.
But, Hoover says, don’t just ask questions for the sake of it. To actually benefit from them, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to ask.
“Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview,” she explains. “If they’re not thoughtful, or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative.”
Luckily, there are plenty of smart ones to pick from.
Here are 29 questions you should always ask in a job interview — if they weren’t already answered — to help you get a better sense of the role and the company, and to leave the interview with a positive, lasting impression:
Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there’s anything they’d like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like, “Yes, I do have a few questions for you — but before I get into those, I am wondering if I’ve sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?”
Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you’re doing, says Bill York, an executive recruiter with over 30 years experience and founder of executive search firm Tudor Lewis.
If they say, “No, actually you answered all of my questions very well!” then this may tell you you’re in good shape. If they respond with, “Actually, could you tell me more about X?” or “Would you be able to clarify what you meant when you said Y?” then this is your chance for a re-do.
Hoover recommends this question because it’s a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she says.
It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book, “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.”
If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” she says, or if you’re going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.
Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping-stone.
Hoover says this question gives you a broad view on the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritizes employee happiness.
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, says Peter Harrison, CEO ofSnagajob.
Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and its management values, Hoover says, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.
While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.
Hoover says this question is important because it lets you “create a sense of camaraderie” with the interviewer because “interviewers — like anyone — usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well.” Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider’s view on the best parts about working for this particular company, she says.
Knowing how managers use their employees is important so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed.
“Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you,” Hoover advises.
Asking about an “offer” rather than a “decision” will give you a better sense of the timeline because “decision” is a broad term, while an “offer” refers to the point when they’re ready to hand over the contract.
Harrison says this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should definitely be aware of before joining a company. As a bonus, he says it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings of the company before joining it.
If the interviewer says, “There aren’t any,” you should proceed with caution.
The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.
Obviously this shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison says, but it also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. “A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in,” he advises.
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position, Oliver writes. “Once the interviewer tells you what she’s looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind’s eye,” she says. “She or he should look a lot like you.”
Hoover says knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well, she says.
Harrison says this question shows that you’re willing to work hard to ensure that you grow along with your company. This is particularly important for hourly workers, he says, because they typically have a higher turnover rate, and are thus always looking for people who are thinking long-term.
Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture about the company’s culture, Harrison says. But more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company’s growth and success.
Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process, Hoover says. If they don’t give that chance, “proceed with caution,” she advises.
Knowing how a company measures its employees’ success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there — and can help you decide if the employer’s values align with your own.
Asking about problems within a company gets the “conversation ball” rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion, Oliver writes. Further, she says their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and will likely lead to other questions.
This one tells them you’re interested in the role and eager to hear their decision.
“Knowing a company’s timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company’s culture,” Hoover says. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before “moving on.”
This might be uncomfortable to ask, but Harrison says it’s not uncommon to ask and that it shows you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role previously.
If you found out they left the role because they were promoted, that’s also useful information.
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big picture, that you’re wanting to stay with the company long-term, and that you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up in, says Harrison.
Oliver says questions like this simply show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders.
While this question may seem forward, Harrison says it’s a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. “It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here,” he says.
This simple question is polite to ask and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve covered all your bases, Hoover says. “It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish.”
Hoover says this is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. In addition, she says you may get “answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask but are important.”
Author: Jacquelyn Smith
Jacquelyn joined Business Insider as the careers editor in 2014. She previously worked as a leadership reporter for Forbes. She is the coauthor of “Find and Keep Your Dream Job: The Definitive Careers Guide From Forbes.“
Jacquelyn holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Arizona and a master’s degree from Hofstra University. She lives in New York City and can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
Vivian Giang and Natalie Walters contributed to previous versions of this article.
Reprint from the above….
Wells Fargo and the Slippery Slope of Sales Incentives
Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, Sally E. Lorimer
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
In early September Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $185 million fine and return $5 million in fees wrongly charged to customers. The settlement stems from the bank’s employees allegedly opening more than 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customers’ permission. The CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, apologized in front of a congressional panel Tuesday, saying in a statement, “I accept full responsibility for all unethical sales practices.”
That speaks to why they did this in the first place: To meet sales quotas and earn incentives.
This is certainly not the first time that a high-profile sales scandal like this has hit the press. In the early 1990s Sears sought to restore its reputation with $46 million in coupons because some employees of its automotive repair division (who were paid a commission on sales of parts and services) had allegedly enticed customers into authorizing and paying for needless repairs. In 2005 the world’s largest insurance broker, Marsh Inc., paid $850 million in fines in the aftermath of accusations that it had received kickbacks from insurance companies for steering business their way — a scheme at odds with Marsh’s commitment to finding the best deal for customers.
Beyond the fines, Wells Fargo has fired at least 5,300 employees for “inappropriate sales conduct,” and the bank is making changes to its quota system. Stumpf said in an earlier statement: “We are eliminating product sales goals because we want to make certain our customers have full confidence that our retail bankers are always focused on the best interests of customers.” Politicians, predictably, have railed against the leadership at Wells Fargo and have called for Stumpf’s resignation. One of the intriguing facts to come to light is that the fraudulent account openings continued even after the bank was aware of it and had fired employees for it starting in 2011.
That suggests that firing employees was not enough to curb the actions. Will eliminating sales goals do it? Before answering this question, it is useful to understand why and how such sales practices begin and spread within an organization.
In these and many other similar (but often less high-profile) cases, much of the blame gets placed on the sales goals and incentives. Salespeople are offered a large monetary reward linked to the achievement of sales goals — goals that employees perceive as excessively high. Sales managers, too, are rewarded for goal achievement, so they put pressure on salespeople to deliver. Salespeople are enticed by the promise of the large reward, or perhaps they are fearful of losing their jobs. Either way, they do whatever it takes to make sales goals.
But large rewards tied to challenging sales goals do not have to be a deadly combination. Many companies have great success using incentives and stretch goals to motivate the sales force and drive revenue. The culture in such sales forces may be sales-oriented and even competitive, yet salespeople still behave ethically and remain focused on meeting customers’ needs.
What differentiates sales teams that play by the rules from those that break them?
Large-scale unethical sales practices often begin with minor ethical compromises. Things escalate and spread from there. Consider the following sequence:
A bank account manager, under pressure to make a sales goal, pushes a customer to add a credit card, even though the account manager knows it’s not in the customer’s interest
Still short of the goal, the account manager asks his friends and family to open accounts. (The accounts are to be closed shortly thereafter.)
With the goal still not achieved, the account manager opens accounts without asking customers and transfers a small amount of money. (The accounts are closed shortly thereafter and the money is transferred back.)
As soon as the account manager gets away with the first unethical act, it’s not a big step to the fraudulent ones. The justification moves from “it’s legal” to “no one is harmed” to “no one will notice.” When such practices are tolerated, they escalate in severity and spread throughout the organization.
To prevent that, the sales culture has to stop the first level of compromise, because the slippery slope begins there. As Wells Fargo has discovered in the last five years, even a strong compliance function — one that began firing people in 2011 — can’t counteract a compromised culture. When things escalate to such a scale, the problems won’t stop with salespeople. Managers and leaders may be looking the other way, or aiding and abetting the behaviors.
What’s most insidious is that managers and leaders may be engaging in similar behaviors in their spheres and domains — in how they deal with other people inside the company, with partners, and with suppliers. Often, bringing about change requires going right to the top of the sales organization and bringing in a new leader who isn’t connected to the history of what’s happened. This individual can build a new culture based on appropriate values and the right workstyle.
Though not a question for customers and regulators, companies such as Wells Fargo have to ask how they can succeed in a sales world without heavy reliance on goals and incentives.
In 2011, about the same time that Wells Fargo began firing employees for questionable sales practices, we wrote a piece for HBR.org addressing that very issue. We called it “Is Your Sales Force Addicted to Incentives?” As we wrote back then, the key to success will be a new culture built around a more balanced approach to managing sales. This new approach will require using tools other than incentives — for example, interesting work, enhanced processes for selecting salespeople and managers, training and coaching, information sharing, empowerment, teamwork, manager assistance and supervision, and improved performance management systems — to motivate salespeople and guide and control sales behaviors.
If the bank is successful in transforming to this balanced sales culture, then perhaps the money it once used for employee incentives can instead go to customer incentives — for example, a no-fee credit card or a better interest rate for opening a new high-balance account. Other companies would be wise to take the time to examine their own sales culture and ask whether incentives might be clouding otherwise good judgment.
Andris A. Zoltners is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a cofounder of ZS Associates, a global business consulting firm headquartered in Evanston, and a coauthor of The Power of Sales Analytics.
PK Sinha is a founder and cochairman of ZS Associates, a global business consulting firm, and a coauthor of The Power of Sales Analytics.
Sally E. Lorimer is a marketing and sales consultant and a business writer based in Northville, Michigan. She is a coauthor of three books on sales force management.
How do we reflect and encourage a commitment to “do the right thing” despite daily pressures make regaining or sustaining profitability our top priority?
A leader can start by admitting mistakes and encouraging other to do the same. Hiding findings or blaming others very often comes from a very natural need to protect ourselves from harm. The best companies understand this and work hard to foster open communication and avoid the tendency to make issues more complex than they are. Very often all it takes is a “gut check.” Put more simply: doing good, feels good.
Sometimes a commitment to values comes at a high short-term cost (admitting mistakes and fixing them is almost never without cost to the client or stakeholders.) But living by a set of values that focus on doing good by employees and customers creates a stronger company over the long haul.
Developing–and living with–a set of principles that guide decision making throughout an organization is no simple task. It involves the kind of soul-searching that not all people are prepared to engage in, especially in difficult economic times.
The value of doing good
I feel fortunate to be in a business where we can do well by doing good. As a staffing firm, the work we do impacts the lives of the people we touch in a powerful way. We must be ever vigilant and mindful of this impact. What impact do you have on the lives of others? I suspect it’s more than you realize. If you are a manager, do your employees understand your values and commitment to doing the right thing? As an employee, do you feel empowered to do what’s right, and admit mistakes along the way? Or is your first thought about how to mitigate the cost before understanding the impact on the lives of others?
Balancing work and life
“Quality of life” issues, such as balancing one’s work and personal lives, are still thorny issues at many firms. Thirty years ago, if you’d talked about these issues, management would question your commitment, or even your sanity. But most people are trying to balance their business lives with their personal lives, their professional needs with their health, social, and spiritual needs.
In these difficult times, there is a lot of pressure to work harder and longer, for the very real fear of losing ones job. Good business leaders know, however, that squeezing as much out of workers as possible, may increase productivity for the short-term, but is not sustainable for the long-term. Long-term profitability is sustained when employees are motivated and committed out of a sense of loyalty.
Managing for the short term as well as the long
As much as leaders understand that we must manage for the long term and keep employees happy, we must be realists and manage for the short term, as well–and that’s tough in the current economic environment. Just as people must manage their personal and work responsibilities, so, too, must companies balance their priorities –all companies must manage for the short term to some degree. We all need to understand the tradeoffs.
Of course, we would all love to work for a company that only manages for the long term, but that is not a reality today. Cash reserves have dwindled, and funding sources have tightened or disappeared altogether. Many of us are simply trying to keep the wolves at bay, and must ask more of ourselves, our colleagues and our employees. But we must not let our fears cause us to lose sight of our values and our commitments to do the right thing!
Shannon Erdell is the President of TLC Staffing and author of “Temporary Sanity: Managing Today’s Flexible Workforce”, SOCAA Publishing 1995. Headquartered in San Diego, with offices in Southern California and North Carolina, TLC Staffing is a 24 year old, multi-disciplined temporary and permanent placement firm. Their specialty divisions include: Business Services, Accounting and Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Engineering and IT. www.tlcstaffing.com 858-569-6260
Stress in the workplace, whether triggered by significant workloads or pressing deadlines, can sidetrack employees and prevent them from doing their best. The following simple steps for managers and employees can help reduce the pressure and increase team performance and productivity:
• Avoid Setting Unrealistic Goals. Setting achievable goals with reasonable timelines helps your sense of accomplishment grow while your stress level declines.
• Step-Out Complicated Projects. Dividing a complex project into phases provides specific direction, helps maintain a calm environment, and motivates the team. Daily or weekly to-do lists can also help prioritize tasks.
• Make Time for Meetings and Completing Tasks. Blocking out the time necessary to complete a task on your calendar is just as important as scheduling time for meetings.
• Communicate Regularly. Recognizing employee achievements can increase confidence, as well as reduce stress related to workloads. Employees may also be able to help identify new ways that they can contribute.
• Schedule Time for Exercise. A regular exercise routine can help lower stress and recharge your batteries for the challenges ahead.
Remember that laughter can be one of the best stress relievers of all–when things start to get too intense, it could be time for a little humor to lighten the load.
Speaking with colleagues and clients, it seems that many of us are still fire-fighting and have lost our edge as it regards to strategic and critical thinking. Although a bit simplistic, I found this artical interesting and a good starting point for getting back to leading versus reaction. Some of the reader comments are very thought-provoking as well.
What kind of “what if” thinking have you practiced lately?
During your interview you are telling a story about yourself. Michael Kinsman offers some valid thoughts as to show and tell why you would be the right person for the job.
Many of you may have seen this already – but in case not, I thought I’d post the attached recommended standard for your review.
I’m still pondering a question in my mind related to a piece that seems missing when evaluating recruitment costs. The question relates to if, and how, this national standard for cost-per-hire should be related to retention. How does one account for very low cost-per-hire but very high attrition rates, or vice versa?
All the best,
Shannon Erdell, President