What a candidate believes is important to business success is
often indicative of the business philosophy by which he or she
operates. Particularly when interviewing management candidates,
employers are often interested in understanding the candidate's
overall business philosophy as the basis for determining whether
or not it is consistent with the overall business philosophy
of the firm.
As a management candidate, the following are typical of interview
questions you are likely to encounter as the employer seeks
to understand your basic business philosophy:
- How would you describe your overall business philosophy?
- What are three examples of things you do in your daily operations
that reflect your basic business beliefs?
- What do you feel is essential to creating a successful business
- What do you feel are sound principles for operating a successful
- What values do you feel are important to sustaining a successful
business in the long run?
- If you were to structure a set of basic values and beliefs
upon which to build a successful business, what would be included?
- What types of values and beliefs do you feel are detrimental
to the operation of a successful business?
- In your judgment, why are certain businesses successful
when others are not?
- In your opinion, what factors account for most business
- In order to create the ideal business environment, what
kinds of behaviors would you encourage and reward? Why?
- What types of behaviors would you discourage or even penalize?
- What do you believe are universal characteristics of successful
organizations? What are the guiding principles of those organizations?
- Are there universal characteristics of organizations
What are they? What errors do these organizations make?
- How have you used some of your basic business principles
and beliefs to realize some key accomplishments?
- How do successful business organizations manage their employees?
Contrast this with unsuccessful businesses.
- How do successful businesses go about planning and allocating
their resources? Contrast this with less successful organizations.
- Describe the planning and decision-making processes that
are important to successful business operations.
- What do you believe is characteristic of the planning and
decision-making processes of unsuccessful enterprises? What
- What kind of behaviors do highly successful
encourage and reward? Why?
- What kinds of behaviors do less successful companies encourage
and reward? Why is this a detriment to success?
The Classic Answers
As already discussed, there is no one, single "right"
answer to the interview questions you may be asked with
regard to business philosophy. Whether or not a particular
answer is "right" will depend entirely upon
the individual philosophy and beliefs of the organization
with which you will be interviewing. Ideally, to be victorious
in the interview, you must tailor your answers to what
is important to that firm.
Assuming such compatibility, the following represent
some good examples of the way that the topic of business
philosophy might be addressed in the employment interview:
1. "My business philosophy is one that believes in the importance
of tapping the full human potential of the organization.
I am a strong advocate of the participative approach to
management. Since people plan and manage all of the resources
of the business (such as capital, raw materials. equipment,
technology. etc.). the ability to develop and motivate
people to effectively control these resources is paramount
to achieving profitability and organizational success.
To achieve organizational success, therefore, I think
it important to develop the core skills and competencies
of your people and then drive day-to-day decision making
to the lowest level of the organization possible. This
motivates and empowers people to bring about the major
improvements required for organizational success."
2. "I think successful firms have always understood what
is today called the "total quality" approach
to management. Deming and some of the other modem-day
gurus have simply applied statistics to what have always
been basic success principles. " Achieving total
customer satisfaction" is critical to maintaining
your competitive advantage, and always has been. "Doing
it right the first time" assures customer satisfaction,
eliminates defects and returns, eliminates waste, and
eliminates the unnecessary staff required to deal with
all these problems. Companies who live by this philosophy
have an enormous cost and market advantage over their
competition. I think total quality is the basis for success
of today's modem company."
3. "Organizations that are not successful have yet to learn
this important lesson. In these companies, management
sees its role as that of the key decision maker with the
role of the employees being to carry out the decisions
of management. Employees are treated as if they are incapable
of thought. The result is that they stop thinking and
begin to function as mindless robots. Since they are not
paid to think, they don't think. The net result is mindless,
non-thinking workers making our products. This results
in lack of pride in workmanship, poor product quality,
dissatisfied customers, waste, higher manufacturing and
material costs, and so on. The list goes on and on. The
bottom line of such philosophy is eventual business failure.
Successful organizations, on the other hand, are those
that develop their employees' capabilities, and who motivate
and empower them to make the decisions necessary to continuously
improve both product and processes. These are the organizations
that are the real success stories in today's highly competitive
business environment. The others will end up on the dust
heaps of history."