Sunday, March 22, 2009

Xerox CEO & Chairwoman's comments on Job Interviews

Adam Bryant of the New York Times recently conducted an interview
with Xerox Chairwoman and CEO, Anne Mulcahy.

Here are some key thoughts on interviewing:

Q. When you’re assessing a job candidate, do you have one or two acid-test questions?

A. They have more to do with behavior and culture than they do with competence and expertise. Generally speaking, the people you talk to have the competence and expertise. That’s how they got to the interview. So then the most important aspect is whether it’s a good fit. And so I always ask the question, why are they choosing us, not so much why we should choose them. I really want to hear about what they could do for the company and why they think it would be a place they could be successful.
It’s a little bit of a test. Have they done their homework? Do they understand the place? Do they aspire to the kind of value system and culture we have here? I’ve learned that it’s probably the biggest success or failure indication, as well, about whether people are a good fit with the culture.

Q. Do you find yourself looking for certain qualities in a candidate more than you did several years ago?

A. Adaptability and flexibility. One of the things that is mind-boggling right now is how much we have to change all the time. For anybody who’s into comfort and structure, it gets harder and harder to feel satisfied in the company. It’s almost like you have to embrace a lot of ambiguity and be adaptable and not get into the rigidness or expectation-setting that I think there used to be 10 years ago, when you could kind of plot it out and define where you were going to go.
I think it’s a lot more fluid right now. It has to be. The people who really do the best are those who actually sense it, enjoy it almost, that lack of definition around their roles and what they can contribute.

Q. And how do you get a sense of whether a person has that quality?

A. Part of it’s from their experience. I think seeing how much breadth someone’s had, and their appetite for not just vertical career ladders, but their appetite for what I call the horizontal experiences, where it wasn’t always just about a title or the next layer up. And that there was this desire to learn new things, to kind of grab onto things that were maybe even somewhat nontraditional. Those kinds of experiences I think bode well for someone who’s going to be open and adaptive in this job environment.

Q. Looking back over your career, do you recall a certain insight that put your career on a different trajectory?

A. A couple of things. I had come up through the sales organization and I was very much a product of that — you know, the next level of upward mobility. I reached a point where I felt like I was just running out of steam, and I knew that you can always get bigger and bigger budgets and sales assignments.
But I chose to go into human resources. I didn’t do it so much because of leadership development or career aspirations. I did it just simply because I thought it was really interesting. I’d always believed that human resources could be a very powerful part of an organization and often wasn’t. So I kind of threw my hat in that ring, wound up running human resources for Xerox worldwide. That was a decision that certainly changed my career path and reinforced the power of leadership for me.

For the whole Adam Bryant NYT Interview please click on this link:

Anne M. Mulcahy, who led a turnaround at Xerox, says it “learned a lot about identifying failure quickly.”...

No comments: