Before a job interview, how do you research the company? I try to make the most of what Google has to offer, but sometimes I get lost in discovering what actually matters. To make it simple I try to pin down the underlying concepts that resonate at the core of every business. I’ve become a compulsive follower of Adam Bryant’s Corner Office series in the Sunday NY times. For someone like myself who is just getting started navigating through the corporate world, these candid perspectives from company leaders are enthralling.
One of the best was when Bryant took on Lloyd C. Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs. If you’re interviewing for a job, it is silly not to take note:
….Q. What other qualities are you looking for?
A. Well, I look for two things that may sound a bit inconsistent, but they’re reconcilable. I look for people who are willing and able to get very deeply involved in something. And at the same time I like people with broad interests, so that they’re well-rounded and interesting people, and are interested in a lot of different things.
On the issue of depth, we’re looking for somebody who has the experience of digging in and mastering a topic. If you can master a topic, you can master another topic. On the other hand, if all you’re good at is survey courses, it’s not that useful to us.
I’d give a job sooner to somebody who’d shown that he or she could really dig down deep in something — and give that person a job in an area of totally different content — than take somebody who had superficial experience across a broad swath and no deep experience in anything.
Q. What other leadership lessons have you learned?
A. You have to, in your own life, get people to want to work with you and want to help you. The organizational chart, in my opinion, means very little. I need my bosses’ goodwill, but I need the goodwill of my subordinates even more. Because they can make it easy for me to get information. They’ll come to me and say: “Look at this. Do this.” Or they can give it to me begrudgingly, if they’re hostile.
Now why would they be hostile? Why would they be negative? Why would they be slow to give me information? Because they thought I wasn’t good for them. They thought I’d be bad for them.
Life is always about contracts that you make with people. Very few of them are written. Most of them are implicit, and most of them evolve out of a course of dealing and understanding. And if you are good for your people, they’ll be good to you, and help you and help propel you up in your career.
By the way, being good to them doesn’t mean you pay them more or you’re more liberal, or you let them get away with things. Most people, what they want is to be better. They want to work for a great organization. They want to feel good about themselves. They want to not so much get promoted, as be promotable. They want to evolve. And if you’re the kind of person that they think will help them do that, they’ll give you a loyalty that’s the most sincere kind of loyalty.