Job Interview – Live on the Internet

This was a first for me. Today (1/27/2011) I had a job interview that was broadcast live on the Internet via UStream. Additionally, the videos from both the committee interview and the open forum are archived for later viewing at the same site. I was being interviewed for the interim presidency at Laramie County Community College in my hometown of Cheyenne.

Having open, live broadcasts of a job interview is an interesting concept, but not without some pitfalls. In particular, it is difficult to answer some of the questions without talking about real people in real situations, and typically that means airing some dirty laundry in a live broadcast. Especially in my case. All of my administrative experience comes from Lake Superior College, a school with an enrollment about 80% as large as LCCC, but definitely small enough that all my “stories” can be traced back to actual people at the college. In a few cases I just decided what the heck, knowing that people back in Minnesota would know who I’m talking about. Other times I chose to bite my lip and remain somewhat vague about the situation – which of course means that people will speculate wildly about who I’m talking about. That probably means I lose points with the committee as well as losing some points with some of the people back home. Definitely a lose-lose situation.

Keep in mind who’s talking here. I practically bare my soul on the Internet for anyone to see/listen/read or whatever. I also speak in front of rooms of people all the time, including rooms holding 100’s of people. So, it wasn’t being on the Internet that freaked me out (although I didn’t tell my network about it until after it was over); it was not being sure that I could obscure the identity of the people I was talking about to answer the questions. Also, as you’ll see, most of the questions had a negative angle to them, and that generally brings up a story that casts one or more employees (and/or myself) in an unfavorable light.

The best questions for a job interview that is being broadcast to the world would be those where the candidate can talk about himself and what he would do (hypothetically) if certain scenarios presented themselves. I can’t make any guarantees about what I actually said in the heat of the moment, but in the next post I’ll share the answers that I either should have said or would say if given another chance at it. Also, let me say that it was somewhat disconcerting (okay, very disconcerting) to start right in with the interview questions and with the open forum questions without having an opportunity to make some introductory comments about who I am and why I’m here. Other than the committee members, most attendees probably had not read through all my application materials to know about my professional background. Even if they did, they almost certainly know nothing about my personal background – having grown up in Cheyenne and graduating from East High School, briefly attending the University of Wyoming before heading south to Arizona State University, and why I’ve spent so little of my adult life living in Cheyenne. So, I did my best to work those types of things into my answers whenever the opportunity arose, which was mainly in the open forum.

Without further ado, here are the ten questions from the interview. In a separate post or two, I’ll share the answers that I gave or those that I wish I had given.

Q1: Laramie County Community College is interested in the quality of their programs.  Give us an example of a time when you became aware of deficiencies in program quality at a college where you were employed and how you fixed the problem.

Q2: Organizational executives often delegate broad authority to subordinates. Suppose you had authorized someone to fix a particular problem, and this person kept reporting progress on getting the problem fixed, but you were unable to determine if the situation was actually improving. How would you go about assessing progress on the problem? If it turned out that there was no progress, what would you do then?

Q3: Tell us about a time in your career when a whole department in your organization needed to be restructured. How did you handle that situation?

Q4: What is your idea of the proper relationship between a college president and a board of trustees?

Q5: Tell us about a time that you had to improve the image of the college where you worked. What actions did you take and what was the result?

Q6: Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict, failure or problem and initiated a solution with an individual(s).

Q7: Tell us how you have successfully lead subordinates through change in the past and the steps you took to ensure a successful outcome.

Q8: Describe one of the most difficult decisions that you have made in your role as a leader. What would you do differently next time and what did you learn?

Q9: Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of personally and professionally. What made it so successful?

Q 10: If an employee came to you with a problem relating to another employee and nothing had been taken care of previously, how would you handle the situation?

In closing, let me say that I enjoyed myself this morning. The college has many wonderful attributes. Whoever is picked to serve as the interim president will have a fabulous opportunity to make a positive impact on many students, employees, and community members.