April 19, 2013
Ask EIG is your chance to seek answers to public sector management challenges and conundrums. Submit your questions here.
The purpose of “Ask EIG” is to respond to questions and host conversations about how to improve leadership thinking and, ultimately, capabilities. Such improvement is all for not if you don’t actually get the job so I especially appreciate today’s question.
It is not uncommon for senior leaders to use several approaches to winnow applicants down to a small pool. Phone interviews are one of many hurdles, all of which you have to successfully navigate if you want to end up in the final pool from which a selection will be made.
With phone interviews, and in particular with a committee on the line, what kinds of questions will be asked? What will the committee be looking for? How can you shine through a telephone line and demonstrate that you have the right stuff?
First and foremost please know that I have never been on such a hiring committee for SES candidates. But I have been on hiring committees, and even have run a few, at my university including ones for selecting a provost, a dean, and a variety of senior leaders. I believe much of what I have learned translates to government agencies.
How do hiring committees work? Typical committees ask the same questions of all candidates. With only 30 minutes, expect about five questions, give or take. At least some questions are likely to focus on the Office of Personnel Management’s Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). (Of course, carefully reading the job posting will give you important clues about what might be asked.)
The purpose of the questions often is threefold. First, the committee wants to assess your experience with leadership challenges. Second, they want to assess your (hopefully) great communication skills. Third, the committee will likely want to get a sense of your ability to aspire to deliver great value, inspire your future team to achieve success, and perspire, which is your willingness to set a good example by working hard.
While these general may be of some help, they don’t offer specific recommendations. Here are three specific recommendations that you can practice for your interview.
Practice may not “make perfect” but it does “make better”. Have a friend or significant other interview you with his or her own questions. Record the interview (a smart phone, computer, or other digital device can do this easily for you). Don’t stop or ask to start over if you stumble. Finish your response as if the interview is real. When done, do something else for at least 10 minutes before listening to the recording so that you can refresh your mind. Listen to your responses without making any comment. Once done, find three things you did well in your response. Once you appreciate what you did well then, and only then, identify three things you could have done better. Repeat the process.
While I can’t promise that you will get the job, practicing the three steps outlined above and then reflecting will help you advance your thinking and interviewing capability. I wish the best for you in the interview!
April 19, 2013