5 of My Favorite Interview Questions

It is a very difficult time to find good employees these days. The unemployment rate is extremely low, business is booming, and everyone is fighting for the same talent. Still, you need to make sure that whoever you hire is a good fit.

Here are 5 of my favorite interview questions to try and dig a little deeper:

  • What is your single best trait or Super Power in one word?
  • If I asked somebody else, “He is a very good guy, but…”… what would they say?
  • What stresses you out?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time? This one is particularly good if it is related to the job they are applying for…do they love it so much they even do it in their spare time?
  • Why do you want to work here? And a follow up…based on your knowledge of the current opportunity in the market, if you were our CEO, what one thing would you focus on?

Give ’em a whirl. You can’t always vet perfectly, so some will slip through the cracks that shouldn’t have, but hopefully some of these questions help a bit. Any others that you really like, please share.

Creating Separation from the Competition Step by Step

Football season has officially kicked off and you’ll be hearing a lot about wide receivers needing to create separation from opposing defenses to get themselves open. Same applies in business…you have to put a little distance between you and your competitors so you can get out in front of them and make your breakaway.

So, how do you go about creating this separation from your competitors. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the one thing that you do amazingly well? What makes you unique in the way that you do it? Are these 2 things stuck in the past or the way of the future?
  2. Who, specifically, is your target audience? Do they know you for the things you describe in your answers to the questions above?
  3. Who is your competition?
    1. What is your position on the ladder in this space?
    1. Does your competition know you exist?
    1. What are your competitors doing successfully/unsuccessfully?

Once you answer these questions, pick the one thing that makes you unique to your customers and separates you from your competitors, carve out this niche with your target audience…and then run a giant truck through it! It really isn’t much harder than that.

The Power of ONE

What is “The Power of ONE”? This is how you create separation from your competition…not by focusing on a thousand things or measuring a thousand different KPIs. Pick ONE thing to focus on…What is your ONE Superpower, Pick ONE Word that describes what you do and hammer it home to your target customers, then measure how you are doing by the ONE metric that gives you that multiplier effect and creates a snowball that can’t be stopped.

Then focus on your 1,000 True Fans ONE-by-ONE (this is the only place I recommend you focus on more than ONE…having just ONE customer is great when it’s great and the kiss of death when it stumbles), get ONE small win then another and then another, strive to get ONE 1% better every day, and soon you will be hitting it out of the park and creating miles of separation between you and your competitors.

That’s “The Power of ONE”!

 

Be Relevant (Right Message to the Right Audience)

You really have to make your customers feel like you are listening to their cares and desires.

There is no quicker way to turn someone off than to blast them with content in which  they have zero interest. If you want them to take an interest in you, you have to be relevant. Personally, I enjoy simple email content that points me easily to something I have intense interest in, but there is no quicker way for me to hit that “Unsubscribe”, “Mute”, “Cancel”, or “Unfollow” button than to spam me with trash that I could care less about or even worse waste my time on the phone or in person.

In many cases you are selling more than one product and in to more than one market. Make sure that your newsletters, emailers, etc. all give your customers an option as to what content they want and what they don’t and make sure you comply with that request. That doesn’t mean you can’t make suggestions or add links here and there to something that you think they might also like (associative sell), but keep it rational if you want to keep them as a customer.

Just because someone was kind enough to share their email address with you, follow your social media feed, pick up the phone, or give you an in person meeting doesn’t mean they are giving you the right to waste their time or bombard them with irrelevant junk. Your customers put their trust in you, so before you ever hit that send button, ask yourself “Am I being relevant to those I am about to blast?” If you aren’t 100% sure, think twice.

 

 

Is The Long Tail Approach Right For You

Back in 2004, the Long Tail Theory was first published. It basically says that the internet has put an interesting twist on the Pareto Principle by making it much easier to service the 80% of the products that are not the top revenue earners for a company and that many companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. have made a wonderful business out of them.

Having the hard to get stuff is what separated them from their brick and mortar cousins and helped grow their subscription rates…and most importantly, if the products are digital, the inventory is virtually free (just another song or movie taking up space on a hard drive somewhere, but not physically collecting dust). This last point is the most important…the Long tail is interesting, but it is also very challenging for physical products as holding inventory poses all kinds of challenges, but in the digital arena, it barely moves the needle in terms of cost to service.

In a long tail business it is more costly to bother evaluating whether something is a hit or not, so instead the best plan is just releasing all of it and letting the consumers sort them out, even letting the consumers vote them up or down to give them some say so in winners and losers. The long tail is really long due to unlimited selection, so there is a lot to be made all along that last part of the tail. Worth noting, trying to provide a niche service and just servicing the hot items or just the dogs has mostly been a recipe for disaster, but those that have serviced it all (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, etc.) have done amazingly well…pick a niche but cover everything in that niche (although not sure Amazon is a niche business any more).

One big thing that has changed is the idea of a big ‘launch’, with press releases, and a big unveiling. It’s not as important anymore. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. The fact is, the curve of money spent (big hump, then it tails off) is precisely backwards to what you actually want anyway…so roll with it, launch, build, build, build, success.

Is your business made for servicing the long tail? How can you take advantage? Or, maybe you still live in the physical world…Pareto still holds pretty true here…just know where you sit and plan accordingly.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

How many times have you been over-promised and under-delivered…it happens daily, so if you really want to create separation, be the exception!

Getting that first order is hard, you want to make sure that you give them a reason to come back for that second order as well. Even if your business sells big one and done items like a pool or a house, you still need those referrals. Maybe a follow up with a 10% discount as a thank you? Maybe a discount for a referral? Maybe give them a coupon to hand out to friends who need your services (winner for both of them!).

Make it impossible not to refer you because you more than did what you promised!

How To Create Separation…Build Your People Up

This was a really well written article from Carrier Management I found from the insurance industry on the need for creating separation from competition and how to go about it…the focus should be on building your people up!

I love the point he makes about not just telling an individual what procedures to perform, but to help them understand their role and their value to the company. His explanation of the CSR’s position and role in the company (in the last section titled…”Oh, I’m just a…”) as the customer’s first line of contact is fantastic…”Oh, so you’re about the most important person in the agency.”…well said!