Your Leadership Style Is Communicated in Unexpected Ways

It was April 17, 2011 when Elaina spotted an ad on for an account executive position at an advertising agency. Her vast experience and long list of qualifications seemed to be perfectly aligned with what the agency was looking for – she had more than fifteen years of experience representing BtoC accounts and had a an impressive track record of helping her clients get plenty of press coverage and win awards.

Elaina enthusiastically submitted her resume along with some very strong references, feeling very optimistic about the prospect of winning an interview. To her delight, she received an email from the agency’s hiring manager at 8:08 that same evening and was ecstatic because she hasn’t been gainfully employed since her former employer closed its doors right before the prior years’ Thanksgiving holiday. The interview was scheduled for the following day, which gave her little time to prepare for it.

Elaina made the 45-minute drive to the agency, mentally preparing how she would answer those tricky interview questions designed to make candidates turn red and fumble. She was well prepared and anxious to get in and show off how qualified she was for the position.

When Elaina opened the large glass door to the agency, the first thing she noticed was the sound of silence. She was surprised because the three prior agencies she worked for were filled with noise, activity and laughter. This environment was downright depressing. About thirty seconds after walking in, Samantha emerged from behind a wall to greet Elaina with one of those fake, insincere smiles and escorted her into what appeared to be a supply room with four sheets of paper and two freshly sharpened pencils on top of a desk.

hiring interview personality skills leadership trainingSamantha explained that the first step of the interview process was to complete a personality profile and skills assessment. If she met the desired profile and passed the assessment, the hiring manager would move forward with an interview. If she did not pass, her resume would be kept on file for other opportunities (sure). Elaina explained that she was told there would be an interview, but Samantha politely retorted that all interviews are conditional. Elaina passed muster and subsequently waited for nearly an hour in the supply room to see the hiring manager.

During this 60-minute wait, the agency continued to be eerily quiet with the exception of a few very short, barely audible discussions, two perfectly audible arguments and the slamming of a door. At the very moment Elaina was asking herself for the tenth time why the heck she was sticking around, she was escorted to the manager’s office where three people sat waiting to interview her. In Elaina’s mind, she had already determined that no amount of money would be enough to work in a place so cold and unfriendly. However, she went through with the interview because she wanted the full experience.

During the interview, the manager displayed a very serious disposition even when she was describing the company’s friendly “work-hard-play-hard” culture. The two other interviewers asked no more than a handful of standard interview questions, but everyone in the room was anything but friendly. Elaina was also bothered by the manager’s poor listening skills because she would ask the same question two or three times, while staring at her resume, rarely making eye contact. Even more bothersome was the constant interruption of emails that the manager kept reading while others were talking. At the one-hour mark, hands were shaken and everyone thanked the other for their time.

At 7:57 a.m. the following day, Elaina was shocked to receive an email with an offer – one that gave her slightly more than what she was looking for. Question: What do you think Elaina did with the email?

How many red flags can you count? Why do you think the agency was so quick to make an offer?

Employers often say they can make hiring decisions within the first few minutes of an interview. If the chemistry is strong and if the candidate is confident, he or she is 90 percent of the way to receiving a job offer. What some employers fail to consider is that the same is true of job candidates – especially the better ones, and it starts the moment they walk in the door. A very good idea of a company’s leadership can be determined without ever meeting him or her.

What does your environment and the mood at your office say about yours?


Learn more about L.E.T.