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May 09, 2006

Job Interview: 3 Questions for Your Prospective Boss

In your job search you are prepared to answer many questions.

But there are questions you should be prepared to ask. Questions for your possible new boss. And not just the trite and true, "Tell Me How You Came To XYZ Corp." My questions are to (dis)qualify him. You may not want to work for him. And if you really, really need the job, you at least won't be blind-sided.

1) Love. Does he love me? I was humbled to have Jesse Brown, the former Veteran's Administration Secretary for Bill Clinton, as a business partner.

"Does he love me?" was Jesse's one rule for taking on a new client or a new job. "If the love's there, all else will fall in." Look for; get the feel for the love. Yes, yes, I know it's an emotion. But so is misery. Look for the love.

jesse_brown.gif


The Honorable
Jesse Brown
Jesse was an honorary campaign manager for the Al Gore presidential race. Which meant he was a $100K contributor. And could have any job he wanted. So I asked him why he gave the money, he wasn't going to take a position in a new administration. "I wanted to help my friends get jobs." He didn't need anything for himself; he sincerely wanted to help others. Including me. And no, I was not about to take any Gore job. Please. But he could have made it happen.

2) Strategy. What would you do if you hit the lottery? Or the IPO is successful, the rich uncle dies. What would your potential boss do if he had a sudden windfall of piles of cash? I asked that in a job interview and was surprised. The hiring manager leaned back, and with a far away look in his eye talked about opening up a marina. His big dream. His big dream was not in that building and I wasn't a part of it. I didn't feel the love.

jj_abrams_tom_cruise_stephen_vaughan.jpg


JJ Abrams with Tom Cruise
Credit: Stephen Vaughan
The right answer is seen in JJ Abrams, the director of Mission Impossible III with Tom Cruise. He was recently asked what he did with all his money and about his work,

Next up for Abrams is a "Star Trek" movie, now in pre-production, which will unleash his inner geek as never before. He'll also be working on "Lost," trying to ensure the show doesn't splinter into so many directions that it chokes on itself or stops moving.

There's not a lot of talk from him about downtime.

Asked if he has any plans for his money, he seems confused.

"What money?"

You know, the money you get paid for all this incredibly lucrative work.

He thinks for a moment, then tilts his head and points to his locks.

"Hair care," he says.

The reporter's question was met with a joke. JJ Abrams really didn't think about the money, didn't think about the stuff it could buy. Or taking long vacations. He was consumed with his passion of making movies. The Love.

If you had the wealth of Solomon you should be doing exactly what you are doing now. The right answer from your potential manager is, "If I struck oil in my front yard, I'd still be doing what I'm doing now." And he is really saying, "I love it here and so will you."

3) Tactics. What classes are you taking now? Continuous learning is, well, continuous. Life-long-learning is the hallmark of leaders.

benjamin_franklin.jpg


Benjamin Franklin
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest," said Benjamin Franklin. An outstanding prospective boss is reading a compelling book, just finished a seminar on international business etiquette, or studied parallels on initiative between business units and military units for a board presentation.

Education and continuous improvement is the one thing every boss should care about.

I was surprised to learn this.

Your Business Blogger once acted as the COO of a Fortune 350 size organization. In my first meeting with the human resource directors, I asked them what was the one thing our employees wanted.

I thought it would be more money. More time off. Vacations days. Sick leave. The typical union demands.

Nope. The nine HR professionals, who happened to all be women said, unanimously, education. More budget and time for improving knowlege, skills and abilities. More opportunities for studies and credentials. (Then they'd clamor for increased pay based on increased efficiency. Clever buggers.)

So we opened attendance for adult education programs at local universities and community colleges. And squeezed out budgets for fancy business consultants to teach advanced management skills. Everyone was happy. Our employee retention rate improved.

If your new manager doesn't care about adult education for himself, he won't care about it for you.

So you are now armed with three qualifying questions to test your next boss. Or try them on your current boss if you are looking for an excuse to leave. But get a new job first.

And let me know how it goes.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

Jesse Brown passed away almost 4 years ago. I still miss him. My inaugural post was dedicated to him.

Basil's Blog has a Picnic.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

Posted by Jack at May 9, 2006 09:49 AM

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Comments

Wise words again.

Posted by: Terry at May 11, 2006 07:32 AM

Thanks for submiting this article to the Festival of Job Hunting. It has been published at:
http://findnewjob.blogspot.com/2006/05/festival-of-job-hunting-2.html

A link back would be appreciated. Also, please click on such link to submit articles for next's week Festival.

Posted by: Jose at May 22, 2006 07:40 AM

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