In light of the responses I shared on a post I recently commented about on LinkedIn published by Hashtag BlackLinkedIn, I have been seriously reflecting on some of the responses I received. As I flip the script and sit thinking of the things I’d want to hear a candidate ask me about in their interview, trivial things did not come to mind.
Trivial things, you know! Those questions like “What are the expectations of the role?” or “What’s the salary?” or “What are the benefits?” or “When will a decision be made?”
A good leader will have answered all those questions as the job narrative is being discussed or Human Resources will share the details around salary, benefits, etc. at the time the offer letter is sent.
However, the more I pondered – yes, I did – the following five things came up and I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you.
1. What is the company culture like today?
If it isn’t a great company culture, I will be as honest as possible without trying to scare my candidate! Every company and organization is different and they all have their culture challenges. However, but it is unfair for me to paint a perfect utopian picture for them. Lying or sugar-coating things will only create a feeling of disenchantment and deception. The chances of that candidate staying engaged and committed long term will be very low. In all fairness, I feel that if I am as honest as possible, they will know what to expect and most likely, will want to be part of improving the culture.
2. How do you, as my supervisor, create a psychological safe space?
I always have had an open-door policy where staff members can come in and share their joys as well as their concerns. As a leader, I like to connect at a personal level within boundaries. It does not mean we are friends. I don’t believe in having work-husbands or work-wives because boundaries are crossed. I do believe in making my presence a safe space to problem solve together. It’s easier than finding out that someone has left of is leaving because they could not voice their opinion.
The second part of that relationship is NOT sharing what’s being share with me – unless a) I am asked to do something to resolve it or b) it is creating conflict that affects the employees’ performance, delivery and work.
3. How does the company/organization create a culture of inclusion and belonging?
I find it strange that I have been “identified” as an introvert in my most recent Meyers-Briggs Assessment – well, hello fellow INFPers!! Having said that, I like to create opportunities for my staff and colleagues to do things together outside the norm. This makes sure everyone is “seen” as a person, regardless of who they are and what role they have in the company/organization.
One example I can share is that one day I decided to pull out some rope and invited everyone to go jump rope with about a dozen teenage girls outside of our office building. We only did it for about 20 minutes and it was really competitive and fun. This level the field without anyone feeling “labeled” as in “only X people can come, be invited, participate.”
The visual of some of the HR staff facing 16-year old girls to jump rope is still too precious not to think about! So, everyone gets invited and welcome to join with me.
4. How does the company support professional development and growth to create a talent pipeline?
This is big for me because others have invested so much in my upward mobility. So I find every opportunity (free and paid) to ensure that staff have what they need to do their job in terms of training.
My POV is this: if I invest in my staff (if the company/org invests), the chance for the employees to do their job well is higher, the chance for them to staying longer is higher and the chance that they will eventually lead with what they learn is higher. Yes!! There is always the opportunity that they will leave. However, when and if they leave, I feel okay knowing that they’re better prepared to move on.
We must be realistic in knowing that long gone are the days when people stayed at the same job for 30 years. We live in a new era.
5. What is the team dynamic like in this department?
Same as the first question, this is my opportunity to share who will be working with this candidate. From what the tempers are like on an average day – everyone has a challenge at one point or another, to what my expectations are, to what projects we are working on, to who my trusted people are, etc. This is not to highlight any favoritism, but to highlight who does what and to share my own work style.
I believe that the team dynamic is set by the team leader. Zero favoritism, clear expectations, and advanced rewards. It all makes a dream team!
I am curious to read if anything resonated with you or if there is anything you disagree on. What would you add or remove?