Thursday, August 11, 2011

A review of "Who"

Your “so, tell me a bit about yourself” is never ever really finished; it is a living breathing thing….you. However, before you put the finishing touches on your “so, tell me a bit about yourself” and get ready to really run with it, I highly recommend that you have a look through the book “Who- the A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

"Who" is intended for people that are recruiting, as it is about a targeted, specific method that Smart and Street have developed for achieving a 90% success rate in identifying and hiring the right people. If you expect to be listening to “tell me” stories, then I highly recommend the book, as it is packed with a very sound methodology for hiring. However, even if you are only expecting to be telling, it is full of valuable insight into the mind of the person that is across the table from you, listening. It will give you insight into some challenging questions you might encounter, and things to include in and leave out of your “so, tell me”.

While the book seems slanted towards executive search, it matters not what level you operate at, as some principles apply at all levels. For example, in response to the (common) question “What accomplishments are you most proud of?”, “A Players tend to talk about outcomes linked to expectations, B and C Players talk generally about events, people they met, or aspects of the job they liked without ever getting into results.” Revisit your stories that underline your ‘tell me’. Are they general or specific? Do they demonstrate what you are telling about yourself.

The Smart/Street method also includes pointers for company personnel on speaking to a person’s references, as well as some rather pointed questions for interviewers to ask interviewees about what these references will say when called. Your “tell me” should be developed and implemented with the certainty that it will be verified and confirmed, at some point, by someone. Will your reference, mentor or friend have the same view of your essential self that you have? Will you “tell me” be confirmed, or denied?

The book also provides insight in to the ‘telephone interview’; the first of the four Smart/Street interviews is a screening interview, by phone. Interestingly, I have noticed that more companies are using this first screen, which is often a very targeted set of questions. In a telephone call, you may not get an invitation, “so, tell me a bit about yourself “ however, I have found in these more direct (and shorter) telephone interviews that my responses come from the same source as my “so, tell me a bit about yourself”.

To learn more about "so, tell me a bit about yourself" please visit

a Mac, trying to do an Apple's job....

My experience has been, when answering “so, tell me a bit about yourself”, if I try and project other than who I am, I may fool some of the people, some of the time, but it usually catches up with me. Having worked long and hard on preparing to tell a bit about myself, it now takes too much effort to be other than who I really am.

A highly successful executive woman was tragically hit by a bus and died. She arrived in heaven where she was met by God.
"Welcome to heaven," said God. "Before you get settled in though, it seems we have a problem. Strangely enough, we've never once had an executive make it this far and we're not really sure what to do with you."
"No problem God, just let me in." said the woman.
God replied, "What we're going to do is let you spend a day in hell and a day in heaven and then you can choose where you want to spend an eternity."
God put the executive in an elevator and it went down-down-down to hell. The doors opened and she found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends – fellow executives that she had worked with and they were all dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner. She met the devil who was actually a really nice guy (kinda cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. She was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody shook her hand and waved good-bye as she got on the elevator. The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at heaven and found God waiting for her.
"Now it's time to spend a day in heaven," God said. So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had a great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and God came and got her.
"So, you've spent a day in hell and you've spent a day in heaven. Now you must choose your eternity," God said.
The woman paused for a second and then replied, "Well, I never thought I'd say this, I mean, heaven has been really great and all, but I think I had a better time in hell."
So God escorted her to the elevator and again she went down-down-down back to hell. When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends were dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting it in sacks. The devil came up to her and put his arm around her.
"I don't understand," stammered the woman, "yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable."
The devil looked at her and smiled. "Yesterday we were recruiting you; today you're staff."

For some help in preparing an honest "so, tell me a bit about yourself", please visit

the longest journey begins....

....with a single step.

Here is a twenty-question-fact-sheet about yourself to kick start the creative juices flowing...

What is your first name? Were you named after any one? Who? Describe them….do you have any similarities?
Do you have any nicknames? How did you get that nick name?
How old are you? Actually? Mentally? Physically?
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Where, what and why?
Where were you born? Where have you lived? Where do you live now?
Which of those places do you like best, least and why?
Do you ever hand write anything? Do you like your handwriting?
What is your favourite food? Why? What is your favourite dessert?
If you were another person would you be friends with yourself?
What is your calling card skill?
What is your favourite day of the week? Why?
If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Why?
What is your favourite drink?
Do you prefer summer or winter? Why?
What book have you enjoyed most in the past year?
Do you have a special talent? What is it?
Have you bungee jumped? Sky-dived? Scuba dived? Rock climbed?
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
What is your most favourite thing about yourself?

There are a number of tests available online, ranging from simple to more complex, some are useful, some are silly. I will often take the test out of curiosity although, as I mention in my “what dessert are you” test ( (or in the July 2011 archive..., I more often read the answers first, to see if any of the answers match my “tell me” version of myself.

Here, for example, is a real test given by the Human Relations Dept at many of the majorcorporations today:

You are at the wheel of a car, hurtling around a curve to the left, with a sheer drop-off tight to your right.
To your immediate left is a fire engine, travelling the same direction and at the same speed you are.
Directly and very close behind you is a helicopter, travelling the same direction and at the same speed you are.
Directly and very close in front of you is an enormous pig, also travelling the same direction and at the same speed you are.
How do you deal with the situation?

Answer: get off the merry-go-round right now!

Seriously, several corporations give tests. Several people try and answer the tests with answers they think are wanted, versus answers aligned with their true self. My experience has been the same as with my “tell me”…if I try and project other than who I am, I may fool some of the people, some of the time, but it usually catches up with me. Having worked long and hard on my “so, tell me a bit about yourself”, it now takes too much effort to be other than who I really am.
And by being true to myself, I usually end up in situations where I ought to be. I am not an Apple trying to do a PC’s job.

This test was on a local radio station one morning recently….

Dr Susan Dellinger, author and creator of “Psycho-Geometrics”, claims your favorite shape reveals the real you.

The 5 basic personality types and their shapes...pick one...are square, rectangle, triangle, circle and squiggle.

• Square – You're an organized, logical and hardworking person who likes structure and rules. Sometimes you have trouble making decisions because you always want more information.
• Rectangle – You're a courageous, exciting and inquisitive explorer who always searches for ways to grow and change. You enjoy trying things you've never done before and love asking questions that have never been asked.
• Triangle – You're a born leader who's competitive, confident and decisive. You also like recognition and are interested in politics.
• Circle – You're a ‘people person’ with lots of sympathy and consideration for others. You listen and communicate very well and are very perceptive about feelings. You like harmony and hate making unpopular decisions.
• Squiggle – You're a creative person who's always thinking of new ways to do things. You don't think in a deliberate pattern from A to B to C. Instead, you tend to jump around in your mind, going from A to M to X.
Hmmm….I would have naturally picked a squiggle, but I a do have a bit of rectangle and triangle in me.

Try this test, which is supposedly given by the Human Relations Dept at many of the major corporations today. It helps them get a better insight concerning their employees and potential employees. As always, when building your “so, tell me a bit about yourself”, be honest with yourself.
1. When do you feel your best?
(a) in the morning (b) during the afternoon & early evening (c) late at night
2. You usually walk
(a) fairly fast, with long steps (b) fairly fast, with short, quick steps (c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face (d) less fast, head down (e) very slowly
3. When talking to people you
(a) stand with your arms folded (b) have your hands clasped (c) have one or both your hands on your hips (d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking (e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair
4. When relaxing, you sit with
(a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side (b) your legs crossed (c) your legs stretched out or straight (d) one leg curled under you
5. When something really amuses you, you react with
(a) a big, appreciative laugh (b) a laugh, but not a loud one (c) a quiet chuckle (d) a sheepish smile
6. When you go to a party or social gathering you.
(a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you (b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know (c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed
7. You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted. Do you..
(a) welcome the break (b) feel extremely irritated (c) vary between these two extremes
8. Which of the following colors do you like most? (a) red or orange (b) black (c) yellow or light blue (d) green (e) dark blue or purple (f) white (g) brown or gray
9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep, you lie
(a) stretched out on your back (b) stretched out face down on your stomach (c) on your side, slightly curled (d) with your head on one arm (e) with your head under the covers
10. You often dream that you are (a) falling (b) fighting or struggling (c) searching for something or somebody (d) flying or floating (e) you usually have dreamless sleep (f) your dreams are always pleasant

Now add up the points for your answers:
1. (a) 2 (b) 4 (c) 6
2. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 7 (d) 2 (e) 1
3. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 5 (d) 7 (e) 6
4. (a) 4 (b) 6 (c) 2 (d) 1
5. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 2
6. (a) 6 (b) 4 (c) 2
7. (a) 6 (b) 2 (c) 4
8. (a) 6 (b) 7 (c) 5 (d) 4 (e) 3 (f) 2 (g) 1
9. (a) 7 (b) 6 (c) 4 (d) 2 (e) 1
10. (a) 4 (b) 2 (c) 3 (d) 5 (e) 6 (f) 1
Now add up the total number of points.
OVER 60 POINTS: Others see you as someone they should "handle with care" You're seen as vain, self-centered, and who is extremely dominant. Others may admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but don't always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.
51 TO 60 POINTS: Others see you as an exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, who's quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold and adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.
41 TO 50 POINTS: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.
31 TO 40 POINTS: Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest... Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken.
21 TO 30 POINTS: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It'd really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then, usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.
UNDER 21 POINTS: People think you are shy, nervous, and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions & who doesn't want to get involved with anyone or anything. They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don't exist. Some people think you're boring. Only those who know you well know that you aren't.

A group of investigators got together and analyzed the personalities of well known and modern cartoon characters.
The information that was gathered was made into this test...
Answer all the questions with what describes you best, add up all your Points (which are next to the answer that you choose) at the end and look for your results.

1. Which one of the following describes the perfect date?
a) Candlelight dinner (4 pts.)
b) Fun/Theme Park (2 pts.)
c) Painting in the park (5 pts.)
d) Rock concert (1 pt.)
e) Going to the movies (3 pts.)

2. What is your favorite type of music?
a) Rock and Roll (2 pts.)
b) Alternative (1 pt.)
c) Soft Rock (4 pts.)
d) Country (5 pts.)
e) Pop (3 pts.)

3. What type of movies do you prefer?
a) Comedy (2 pts.)
b) Horror (1 pt.)
c) Musical (3 pts.)
d) Romance (4 pts.)
e) Documentary (5 pts.)

4. Which one of these occupations would you choose if you only could choose one of these?
a) Waiter (4 pts.)
b) Professional Sports Player (5 pts.)
c) Teacher (3 pts.)
d) Police (2 pts.)
e) Cashier (1 pt)

5. What do you do with your spare time?
a) Exercise (5 pts.)
b) Read (4 pts.)
c) Watch television (2 pts.)
d) Listen to music (1 pt.)
e) Sleep (3 pts.)

6. Which one of the following colors do you like best?
a) Yellow (1 pt.)
b) White (5 pts.)
c) Sky Blue (3 pts.)
d) Dark Blue (2 pts.)
e) Red (4 pts.)

7. What do you prefer to eat?
a) Snow (3 pts.)
b) Pizza (2 pts.)
c) Sushi (1 pt.)
d) Pasta (4 pts.)
e) Salad (5 pts.)

8. What is your favorite holiday?
a) Halloween (1 pt.)
b) Christmas (3 pts.)
c) New Year (2 pts.)
d) Valentine's Day (4 pts.)
e) Thanksgiving (5 pts.)

9. If you could go to one of these places which one would it be?
a) Paris (4 pts)
b) Spain (5 pts)
c) Las Vegas (1 pt)
d) Hawaii (4 pts)
e) Hollywood (3 pts)

10. With which of the following would you prefer to spend time with?
a) Someone smart (5 pts.)
b) Someone attractive (2 pts.)
c) Someone who likes to party (1 pt.)
d) Someone who always has fun (3 pts.)
e) Someone very sentimental (4 pts.)

Now add up your points and find out the answer you have been waiting for!

(10-16 points) You are Garfield: You are very comfortable, easy going, and you definitely know how to have fun but sometimes you take it to an extreme. You always know what you are doing and you are always in control of your life. Others may not see things as you do, but that doesn't mean that you always have to do what is right. Try to remember, your happy spirit may hurt you or others.
(17-23 points) You are Snoopy: You are fun, you are very cool and popular. You always know what's in and you are never are out of style. You are good at knowing how to satisfy everyone else.
You have probably disappeared for a few days more than once but you always come home with the family values that you learned. Being married and having children are important to you, but only after you have had your share of fun times.
(24-28 points) You are Elmo: You have lots of friends and you are also popular, always willing to give advice and help out a person in need. You are very optimistic and you always see the bright side of things. Some good advice: try not to be too much of a dreamer. Dreaming too big could cause many conflicts in your life.
(29-35 points) You are Sponge Bob Square Pants: You are the classic person that everyone loves. You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never wants to lose. You never cause harm to anyone and they would never not understand your feelings. Life is a journey, it's funny and calm for the most part. Stay away from traitors and jealous people, and you will be stress free.
(36-43 points) You are Charlie Brown: You are tender, you fall in love quickly but you are also very serious about all relationships. You are a family person. You call your mom every Sunday. You have many friends and may occasionally forget a few Birthdays. Don't let your passion confuse you with reality.
(44-50 points) You are Dexter: You are smart and definitely a thinker... Every situation is fronted with a plan. You have a brilliant mind. You demonstrate very strong family principles. You maintain a stable routine but never ignore a bad situation when it comes. Try to do less over thinking every once in a while to spice things up a bit with spontaneity!

Here’s one final test:
During a visit to a mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what thecriterion was that defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
”Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub; then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”
”Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.
”No,” said the Director, “A normal person would pull the plug. Do youwant a bed by the wall or near the window?”

For other useful information, please visit

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Oreo cookie test

The Oreo cookie test….
Do you have any Oreos in the cupboard? If not, go get some. Psychologists have discovered that the manner in which people eat Oreo cookies provides great insight into their personalities. Eat one before continuing.
Here is some further insight for your “So, tell me a bit about yourself” story.
Did you:
1. Eat the whole thing - this means you consume life with abandon, you are fun to be with, exciting, carefree with some hint of recklessness. You are totally irresponsible. No one should trust you.
2. Eat one bite at a time - you are lucky to be one of the 5.4 billion other people who eat their Oreos this very same way. Just like them, you lack imagination, but that's OK, not to worry, you're normal.
3. Eat slowly and methodically - you follow the rules. You're very tidy and orderly. You're very meticulous in every detail with everything you do to the point of being anal retentive and irritating to others. Stay out of the fast lane if you're only going to go the speed limit.
4. Eat with feverish nibbles - your boss likes you because you get your work done quickly. You always have a million things to do and never enough time to do them. Mental breakdowns run in your family. Valium and Ritalin would do you good.
5. Dunk it - everyone likes you because you are always upbeat. You like to sugar coat unpleasant experiences and rationalize bad situations in to good ones. You are in total denial about the shambles you call a life. You have a propensity towards narcotic addiction.
6. Twist it apart, eat the inside, then the cookie - you have a highly curious nature. You take pleasure in breaking apart things to find out how they work, though not always able to put them back together, so you destroy all the evidence of your activities. You deny your involvement when things go wrong. You are a compulsive liar and exhibit deviant, if not criminal, behaviour.
7. Twisted it apart, eat the inside, then toss the cookie - you are good at business and take risks that pay off. You take what you want and throw the rest away. You are greedy, selfish, mean and lack feelings for others. But that's OK, you don't care, you got yours.
8. Eat just the cookie, not the inside - you enjoy pain.
9. Like to just lick them, not eat them - stay away from small furry animals and seek professional medical help - immediately.
10. ”I don't have a favourite way, I don't like Oreo cookies” - you probably come from a rich family and like to wear nice things and go to upscale restaurants. You are particular and fussy about the things you buy, own, and wear. Things have to be just right. You like to be pampered. You are a prima donna. There's just no pleasing you.

For other useful information and exercises, please visit

Friday, December 11, 2009

Douglas Coupland doesn’t like phone books....

I went to listen to the author of the 1991 iconic Generation X, Tales of an Accelerated Culture, and now Generation A. Coupland is a techno-enthusiast, and he commented on the vast amount of change in everyone’s life in just five years (examples: Google, ipods/iphones/Blackberries, social networking) and the maelstrom that is the vast amount of information around us. It was a diverse discussion during which the topic of yellow pages came up. Coupland is bothered that yellow and white pages are still printed, wasting so much paper, because this information is easily available on line. It is one example of how the vast amount of change in just five years has, or could have, obsolesced the need for something.
As another example, Joshua Errett, writing in the September 24-30, 2009 NOW magazine(, feels that Zagat Surverys, which are now 30 years old, should have ceased publication five years ago, having been replaced by comment-driven restaurant review sites (such as He sites several other random examples of things that should (or more likely, will) be killed off by technology.
Think of some things that you do now that you did not do ten, even five, years ago. Blog, listen to podcasts, read books on a machine, install a tankless water heater, Google an interview candidate’s name, Google a company you are interested in, play spelunky, take pictures on your cell phone, or shoot a movie with your Nano, use caller i.d. to avoid people. The list will be long.
There is a vast amount of change continuously going on. In the face of this change, it is often necessary to be flexible…and beneficial to be receptive, responsive and even proactive.
A solid, tell me a bit about yourself story is part of this pro-action.
Please go to to learn more...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creative destruction

Destruction. It comes in several forms. There is the creative form of destruction, a concept first popularized in 1942 by economist Joseph Schumpeter (“Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”). Originally creative destruction was an explanation of the dynamics of how entrepreneurial innovation can cause transformation, dislocation and destruction of older, more established enterprises. The compact disk replaced the 8-track tape, to then be replaced by .mp3 player. More recently creative destruction was reenergized by Foster and Kaplan of McKinsey and Company (“Creative Destruction”), more as a strategy for remaining competitive and thriving over the long term. Instead of, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, this is more like, if it ain’t broke, break it. Then there is the increasingly widespread destruction wreaked on the economy as a result of lending far too much to far too many for far too little for far too long; the subprime mortgage meltdown. Not creative at all. Destruction, creative or not, is painful, involving dislocation, discontinuity, job loss, bankruptcy and economic upheaval. Destruction brings change. Change is a pain. It is inevitable, though. And change may mean that you will have to tell someone a bit about yourself.
Please visit for further insight.

The different forms of "so, tell me a bit about yourself"

My niece was describing a recent job interview. She and the interviewer were graduates of the same university, so they ended up chatting about the alma mater, the football team, the professors they both had had. And in that chat, my niece told the interviewer a bit about herself.The chat is my favorite form of interview, probably because it is my most successful. However, I am prepared to tell a bit about myself in different ways. My most interesting (and least successful) version was the structured verbal questionnaire. I met with an Austrian businessman who had a set list of 18 questions that he was asking every interviewee. Just the facts, ma’am. I tried to embellish my answers, stray, engage in conversation but these attempts met with a stony stare, and we moved on to the next question. “Your connection has been lost….please try again later.”Sometimes, that is just how it goes when you are trying to tell a bit about yourself. It reminded me of a friend’s description of her Six Minute Dating experience*. Some of the men asked questions from a set list, some chatted, some about themselves, some about the women they met. It sounded like a great way for someone to get comfortable with telling a bit about themselves, to practice a ‘so, tell me a bit about yourself’ story, in some different forms.
For more about the "so, tell me a bit about yourself" story, please visit