Think back, when was the last time you were interviewed?
The book, What Color is Your Parachute? has been a best-seller for decades. It focuses on preparing people for a career change and the dreaded job interview. The book is indispensable for working on the nuts-and-bolts of professional connections and responding to job interview questions.
The risk of relying on a guide when preparing for an interview is that it can inhibit your ability to respond with agility in the moment. As a result, dampening the energy you might bring to the interview.
Yogi Bhajan is credited with the quote, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it,” although I’m not sure I subscribe to all of it in that order. As a result, I have learned a thing or two about interviews over the past year and people’s abilities to teach and share their knowledge.
My Make Your Move podcast is approaching the one-year anniversary of its launch. The podcast stems from my book of the same name and has become a repository of stories of military transitions drawn from all quarters of military service. I have interviewed soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen, a veteran and now-member of Congress, officers, and enlisted. Overall, it has been incredibly rewarding to engage and learn from others in a straightforward interview format.
What questions do I ask my podcast guests?
Those who listen recognize that I use roughly the same questions with every guest.
In order, I ask:
– Tell us what you did on active duty in a few sentences. This can take some just a few sentences, while others will offer an expansive response of more than five minutes.
– Tell us what you did in preparation and what things looked like to you “on the outside” as you first stepped out.
– Were there any surprise upsides about the post-military experience?
– Were there specific lessons learned you’d share with others?
– What does balance mean to you? Is it achievable or more of a transitory state?
With that backbone of a script, it is fascinating to hear the many different ways that those questions can be, and are, answered on the podcast.
Interviews that allow candid responses
Now, lets flash forward to earlier this month. I had an opportunity to spend two days in Miami Beach with about a dozen expert global consultants. There were representatives from four continents that came to listen to six thought leaders who were to be interviewed about their consulting businesses and their lives. Some knew each other personally and well; others knew each other only by reputation. To say participating in the experience was profound is an understatement.
With no prior awareness of what the questions would be, the interviewer probed the subjects about their own career self-assessments, decisions they’ve made, and what they think makes them successful. Insightful questions can quickly move deeply into the layers of each person’s story, allowing it to be told uniquely and with authenticity. The lack of a script, an environment of trust, and a genuine desire on the parts of the interview subjects to share in hopes of helping others learn created great alchemy. None of the interview subjects pontificated. Each responded in the moment and tailored the question to suit their best answer and teaching points. After about 25 minutes the forum was opened such that the audience members could each ask their own questions. Again, the spontaneity of the situation assured candid responses. There was simply no way to prepare for the questions.
After each round of interviews, the interview subjects were asked what they learned. As a result, each learned more about themselves than they thought possible, particularly in that somewhat public setting. In conclusion, allowing for an environment of ambiguity and a degree of vulnerability, they could reveal their truest points of learning for the benefit of others.
What I am doing with what I learned
So, fascinated was I by this learning dynamic that I will replicate it within my own network in February 2023. I have pulled together three highly successful clients who have agreed to sit for an interview in an event I am calling, “Meet the Ringmasters.” These are leaders of large, medium, and small companies who have truly mastered their personal and company growth and excel in the business of selling to the federal government. In a short-notice test of the market with an invitational marketing email from me, seats to participate in this event went quickly. I look forward to reporting on its success upon completion.
If you think you’d like to learn from three Ringmasters of federal sales in this venue, we will meet in the Tampa area on February 20th to 22nd, 2023. The maximum capacity is 12; there are just a couple of seats remaining. So, email me directly with the subject line “Meet the Ringmasters” to learn more from me.
Need help engaging with the federal government for policy or access to funding for your product? If you need help with this, schedule a call with Gene.