Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Spilling, and Other Great Interview Techniques

Every leader possesses their own style of conducting an interview. I have coached many professionals on improving the results of their interviews via behavioral-based interviewing, and by using an interview guide. Today, however, I share an interview technique that is unique.


Not long ago a CEO was looking to fill a high-level position. He surprisingly delegated most of the interviewing to his team leads. They, in turn, presented him with two final candidates. He always conducts final interviews over dinner. In his mind, there are several “intangible” qualities that can be observed over dinner – manners, the ability to table talk, sociability, etc. A dinner interview also gives him the opportunity to spill things on the candidate. Let me explain. One of the qualities that is of critical importance to this CEO is empathy. Now, empathy is a tough quality to unveil during a traditional interview. So what he does is contact the restaurant ahead of time, talk with his favorite waiter, and request that the waiter purposely trip and spill a glass of water on the CEO’s dining partner (i.e., the job candidate). The results are always genuine and telling. Immediately after the spill, many of the candidates display the response that the CEO is looking for: sincere concern for the waiter who has tripped and spilled something. A fair amount of the candidates, however, yell at the server or display more concern about their wet suit than the condition of the fallen waiter. It is at this moment that they cease to become candidates.


You may think the CEO’s interview technique is devious. It is also brilliant, creative, and predicatively accurate. So what kind of brilliant and creative things are you doing for your business these days?

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-07-30 at 06:39 AM
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Interviewing? Think Behavioral

Whether you are looking to hire people or looking to be hired, if an interview is on the horizon you should be thinking “behavioral.” Behavioral based interviewing is a structured process that seeks to better qualify candidates and results in the best team member fit for the organization.


The interview is more structured than most, complete with a defined flow and set of predetermined questions. During an effective interview, the interviewer typically speaks no more than 25% of the time, while the candidate speaks 75% or more. The key is that most of the interviewer’s speaking time is spent at the end of the interview, not the beginning! Most interviewers are terrible because they spend the beginning of the interview talking and telling the candidate all about the organization and the position. This makes it quite easy for the person being interviewed to simply regurgitate important points and sound in-synch with the organization.


One last tip: gain behavioral examples. The examples of real-life events provided by the candidate can then be used to assess the relevance of job related skills. If you want more information about terrific interview structures or techniques, contact us for a consult or to purchase one of our interview guides.

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-07-29 at 02:39 PM
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Vooks are Coming

You read that title correctly. Last week Amazon announced that for the first time e-books outsold paper books. The week before was probably the last time in history (Amazon’s at least) that paper books outsold e-books. So my friends, e-books are here to stay and will continue to gather traction. A fact: we are in the process of turning Leadership Simplified into an e-book. Bought that Kindle yet? Anyway, e-books are just the first incarnation of prose read electronically. What does the future hold? In the not too distant future, Vooks will hit the scene in a big way. What the heck are vooks? Well, they are a fine blend of text, high-quality video, and hyperlinks. Just picture that you are reading your favorite business resource book, Leadership Simplified, and you click on a word and, voila, I appear in a video and explain the concept that you were reading about. Similarly, in another section you would click on a hyperlink and suddenly be transported to a section of my website or another reliable information source. Sound spiffy? Hold on to your hat. It is coming, and it’s game changing!     

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-07-28 at 07:40 AM
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Does Leadership Mean Sacrificing?

A while back Colin Powell wrote a nice piece about leadership. In it, he included a list of certain “rights” that leaders give up when they take on a leadership position. You may or may not agree with Powell’s list, but I believe a review of it from time-to-time is healthy.


Once you become a leader, you give up certain rights: 

  1. The right to lose your temper. 
  2. The right to be "one of the crowd." 
  3. The right to shut the door.  
  4. The right to bring problems to work. 
  5. The right to speak freely. 
  6. The right to be against change. 
  7. The right to pass the buck. 
  8. The right to get even. 
  9. The right to choose favorites.
  10. The right to think of yourself first.
  11. The right to ask a staff member to do something you would not do.
  12. The right to expect immediate reward for your work.
Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-07-27 at 06:40 AM
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Possible Financial Relief for Small Business Owners

Last week the U.S. Senate voted to include a proposed $30 billion lending program in a small business aid package it will be examining soon. If approved, the measure would enable community banks to provide an abundance of SBA loans to small business. Approximately $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses, as well as the beefing up of several other government lending programs would also be included.


Here is my take: 1. A large pool of available funds is welcomed news since lenders have been very tight with approving loans. 2. There should be some concern because in the government’s haste to push $30 billion into a flailing economy, an abundance of bad loans may be generated. 3. Doesn’t it seem odd that only community banks will be allowed to lend these funds? Non-community banks have the kind of market share and geographical scope to push these funds into the market more quickly and, perhaps with better controls. Why not let all banks participate?    

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-07-26 at 07:47 AM
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