More than any other aspect of your job, your direct supervisor has the power to make or break you. Research has shown most people that leave their jobs, don’t leave the organization, they leave the person that they directly reported to. If this person is the biggest indicator of how successful you will be in your new work, shouldn’t you know as much as you can about him or her?
Talk to people within the company.
Ask detailed questions during the interview. (What type of person do you like to work with? Describe a time when you had to discipline one of your staff. If I talked to your staff, what would they tell me about you?)
“The traditional interview questions do not allow a candidate to demonstrate their uniqueness, personality, or dynamic skillsets,” explains Shara Senderoff of Intern Sushi, “I love to catch candidates off guard with the following:
What color is your personality? This gives me a look into how a candidate views themselves without having to ask them for a list of adjectives. When you ask in this manner, you can identify traits about the candidate based on social interpretations of colors that may not have been apparent in that first interview, even when you can’t get a candidate to go into depth with his or her answer. I’ve also found this to be a great lead in question because it relaxes the candidate and allow them to think outside-of-the-box.
Tell me three things you could do with a brick. This always lends itself to very original thinking and believe it or not, demonstrates experience and maturity or lack thereof. At this point I could create a list of over 100 unique responses and with each response I can understand how an individual thinks and what they’ve been through.”
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“In this way we get “brain hubs,” places that contribute an outsized portion of the GDP and generate an unreasonable number of patents. This capital-ization has pretty far-reaching effects: the more high-tech, high-powered folks you have in a place, the more similarly gifted people will be attracted to moving there—and all these jobs actually generate more jobs. Moretti says that a high-tech job actually creates something like 10 service sector gigs.”
“I figured Fast Companyreceived many standard resumes that they routinely read through. Then, they probably threw them out. I wanted to make something different, something exciting and colorful, something that showed them how much I admired them and who I really was. I put an infographic on the website mapping out why I was the perfect candidate—showing that I had something to add.
Two and half hours later, I received an email. I had a phone interview a week later. The rest is history. It turns out you can tweet your way to your dream job (or internship).”
“Focus on the cover letter. It is not uncommon for me to get 100 applications for one spot, so I’m constantly looking for reasons not to advance a candidate to the interview round. Writing a good cover letter is your best shot at getting noticed. If I hate a cover letter, I won’t even look at the résumé.”
“On Sunday night, or some other quiet time, glance at your calendar, and set goals for what you’d like to accomplish in your professional and personal life over the next 168 hours. Schedule these high-value activities in. Once Monday morning hits, you’re in a firefight. So figure out how you’ll advance your troops, rather than just hunkering down.”
What traits do today’s prominent female leaders share? Let’s take a look:
Effective role models: A recentCNN opinion pieceabout how to have more women likeSheryl Sandberg concludes that it is the prominence of such women that inspires others to be like them: “We can create more Sandbergs by surrounding ourselves with confident, outspoken women.” Sandberg herself actively works to encourage others by running a monthly salon with talks by inspirational women. The more role models we have across all industries, the more likely it is that the female leaders of the future will be inspired.
Mentoring—at all levels: If you can identify opportunities and encourage women early on then they will be able to fulfill their potential throughout their careers. Some of the most prominent women had great mentors—and they are often now working as mentors to the next generation themselves.
Confidence: Confidence can mean a world of difference between a woman who is able to live her dreams and one who is not—so often a talented woman is held back through lack of confidence. The former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher was famous for her confidence and iron will—and for her slogan“The lady’s not for turning.” Inan articlefor the MBA@UNC, media pioneer Arianna Huffington cites lack of confidence as “a killer to success for women. In order to advance their careers, women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.”