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by Paddy Collins on September 28th, 2017

This is the third of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

What are your 3 top strengths and your main weaknesses?

Or quite similar:

If asked, what would your friends (and enemies) say about you?

Why is this question asked?

– To see if you’re self-aware and to identify your mindset and attitude.

– Do your strengths fit the job spec? Do they match your CV?

– To check your consistency across the interview, application process, CV etc.

– To see if you are you self-aware and mature enough to know and express your strengths and acknowledge your weakness.

– Have you got the good judgement to decide which of your strengths / weaknesses should be emphasised as they could ‘fit’ to the organisation, culture, job?

– Have you figured out how to address and manage your ‘allowable’ weakness?

– Can you handle the question – are you prepared, honest and objective (with a healthy self-critique)?

How to answer?

– Stay calm – remain composed.

– Remember your feedback from your colleagues – what are your personality / leadership / behavioural strengths?

– Highlight positives. Giving an example of your strength say e.g. “I am told consistently that I am strong with….”

– Make the link from you your main weakness?r interests to your skills – always link to the job.

– On weaknesses, choose a non-critical competence or skill (an ‘allowable weakness’).

– Ensure you can turn the weakness into a positive – show how it ‘works’ for the target job.

– Show how you have dealt with it and prove you have overcome it. Show resilience.

– Appreciate and emphasize the learning you get from managing your weakness.

– Present examples of positive feedback you have received from all sources.


by Paddy Collins on August 1st, 2017

This is the second of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we will outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

Why do you want to work in this organisation – in this role?

Or quite similar:

What would it mean for you to get this job?

Why is this question asked?

– Have you researched the company, including ethos/culture, structure, growth, profitability? Have you studied the web site, reports, and press releases?

– Have you a positive intention – with positive drivers? What is your purpose in seeking this role?

– Have you a positive affinity / connection to this role – if so, what is it (e.g., service to Europe, a ‘green’ agenda…..?)

– Have you a clear understanding of the role? Have you a realistic view of yourself as a good ‘fit’ with this role?

– Does it fit into your career plan and does your experience and competencies fit with the needs of the hiring organisation? Are you (and how) are you ready now?

– Can you (and how specifically) contribute now to this company in this role?

– What will you be positively and generously motivated to bring to this organization?

– How interested are you – do you really want this job?

How to answer?

– Show your enthusiasm, interest, ‘heart’ for the job

– Show you understand the organisation and the challenge of the role – you’ve done your research!

– Good opportunity to compliment the employer (with honesty) – tell them why you admire them, how they are one of the best employer’s in a specific area, why this department contribution/role is important is important….

– Need to link organisational values with your own – e.g. excellence, innovative, green energy, learning….

– For the role, show you are ready – that you have worked to actively develop yourself towards this point – and that is a further development opportunity

– Outline what they will gain by you contributing to it – highlight the added value you bring (try to identify some timely, specific, relevant areas you know you can contribute to e.g., managing change)

– Identify what you will learn, how you will be developing your career – a natural next step

– Win-win: Show fit between your career progression + what you will contribute (focus on your intended contribution)

4 Simple Things Every Team Wants From Their Leader

by Paddy Collins on July 6th, 2017

by Brian Treadgold, Founder & CEO, Leadership Principles

While it can be difficult to become a great leader and to achieve great things, practicing great leadership is actually quite easy. There is a tendency to overcomplicate or overthink what leadership is, but actually, leadership can be very simple. I have worked with teams all over the world, from dozens of cultures, and from different generations, Baby Boomers to Millennials, and I have found that if you provide these four simple things your team will appreciate you, follow you, and achieve great results.

1. Clear direction

This is the leader’s number one job. If you don’t do anything else, you absolutely must give clear direction to your team. Let them know what the goals and objectives are. Too often there is a lack of clarity, which can lead to confusion, misalignment, frustration, and disengagement. Sometimes, clear direction is all a team needs; General Patton said, “Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

2. Support

Your team does the lion’s share of the work, and as their leader, it’s your job to provide them with everything they need to be successful. When you set a team up to be successful, most of them will grab the opportunity with both hands and become successful. Leadership is about serving your team, not about being served by them. This doesn’t mean doing the job for them; it means providing the right environment, and then being there to help, if needed.

3. Space

Give the team the space to get on with the work. Provide support, but don’t micromanage them. Micromanagement is not only frustrating and demotivating, but it can also lead to mistakes, as it can put your team under unnecessary stress. Micromanagement is not good for your team, and it’s not good for you, either, because no one wants to work for a micromanager. If that becomes your reputation, then the best staff will look to work elsewhere, and it will give you both recruitment and retention issues. It’s OK to check up on the team, to see how they are doing and what you can do to help, but it has to be within reason.

4. Praise

Positive feedback, in my experience, is key to building a great team that achieves amazing things. I am always surprised by how resistant many managers and leaders are to giving praise. You need to create a culture of recognition, and it starts by recognizing effort. No one is successful immediately, so you should look to give people positive feedback for trying, for being willing to give things a go. What gets recognized gets repeated, and we want people to repeat the effort, because that is what  is going to lead them to success. If you wait for your team to achieve success before you praise them, then you could be waiting a long time.

If you want to become a better leader, or you want your team to achieve better results, providing these four simple ingredients will go a long way toward motivating and inspiring your team and boosting their efforts.

Leadership is a lot more simple than we think. Don’t overcomplicate it.

The Future of Performance Management

by Paddy Collins on June 29th, 2017

By Boris Ewenstein, Bryan Hancock, and Asmus Komm; McKinsey & Company

What happens after companies jettison traditional year-end evaluations?

The worst-kept secret in companies has long been the fact that the yearly ritual of evaluating (and sometimes rating and ranking) the performance of employees epitomizes the absurdities of corporate life. Managers and staff alike too often view performance management as time consuming, excessively subjective, demotivating, and ultimately unhelpful. In these cases, it does little to improve the performance of employees. It may even undermine their performance as they struggle with ratings, worry about compensation, and try to make sense of performance feedback.

These aren’t new issues, but they have become increasingly blatant as jobs in many businesses have evolved over the past 15 years. More and more positions require employees with deeper expertise, more independent judgment, and better problem-solving skills. They are shouldering ever-greater responsibilities in their interactions with customers and business partners and creating value in ways that industrial-era performance-management systems struggle to identify. Soon enough, a ritual most executives say they dislike will be so outdated that it will resemble trying to conduct modern financial transactions with carrier pigeons.

Yet nearly nine out of ten companies around the world continue not only to generate performance scores for employees but also to use them as the basis for compensation decisions. The problem that prevents managers’ dissatisfaction with the process from actually changing it is uncertainty over what a revamped performance-management system ought to look like. If we jettison year-end evaluations—well, then what? Will employees just lean back? Will performance drop? And how will people be paid?

Answers are emerging. Companies, such as GE and Microsoft, that long epitomized the “stack and rank” approach have been blowing up their annual systems for rating and evaluating employees and are instead testing new ideas that give them continual feedback and coaching. Netflix no longer measures its people against annual objectives, because its objectives have become more fluid and can change quite rapidly. Google transformed the way it compensates high performers at every level. Some tech companies, such as Atlassian, have automated many evaluation activities that managers elsewhere perform manually.

The changes these and other companies are making are new, varied, and, in some instances, experimental. But patterns are beginning to emerge.

– Some companies are rethinking what constitutes employee performance by focusing specifically on individuals who are a step function away from average—at either the high or low end of performance—rather than trying to differentiate among the bulk of employees in the middle.

– Many companies are also collecting more objective performance data through systems that automate real-time analyses.

– Performance data are used less and less as a crude instrument for setting compensation. Indeed, some companies are severing the link between evaluation and compensation, at least for the majority of the workforce, while linking them ever more comprehensively at the high and low ends of performance.

– Better data back up a shift in emphasis from backward-looking evaluations to fact-based performance and development discussions, which are becoming frequent and as-needed rather than annual events.

How these emerging patterns play out will vary, of course, from company to company. The pace of change will differ, too. Some companies may use multiple approaches to performance management, holding on to hardwired targets for sales teams, say, while shifting other functions or business units to new approaches.

But change they must.


by Paddy Collins on April 27th, 2017

This is the first of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we will outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

Question 1:        Tell me about yourself

Why is this question asked?

– Starts the dialogue, relax into interview, put you at ease – ‘break the ice’
– Get to know you in a less formal way to build rapport and to see if you can relate / connect with them at an early point in a human way – can you create ‘rapport’?
– Observing your confidence level – and friendliness
– They’re asking ‘could we work with this person’?  How have they progressed through their career?
– Find other areas or ‘hooks’ or ‘topics’ to explore with you later  – relate to job (so they can see you have raised important points with them – from the job requirements perspective)
– To see – are you prepared / have you clarity about yourself? What do you choose to emphasise – that might be relevant to the role?
– Helps panel get to know you quickly – or refresh their memory – hear you with fresh ears!
– To consider if you have a ‘brand’ and how it sits with the panel

How to Answer?

– Ideal max 2 mins – 3mins input (first chance to ‘sell yourself’ positively). Be concise.
– Get to work-related input quickly – profession, experience, progress of career
– Career and recent experience and key achievements – map to competencies/experience of job of interest
– Provide ‘relevant hooks’ (linked to job requirements) – take control – you want them to note/probe on these points because you are prepared on these topics / competencies
– Optional: Give very short input on personal information at end – e.g. where from, family, hobby?
– Use aspects of brand statement – Finish with key differentiators and direction (all relevant to the job)
– Keep it positive / keep it concise and punchy (2 mins) – stay calm
– Brief, simple, honest, natural – tailored to the specific job

2017 – Treasure and foster your career

by Paddy Collins on January 20th, 2017

2017 – Treasure and foster your Career

You may not realise it but the way your career develops over time is almost entirely under your control. Certainly you can opt to stay in your current job, work hard, hope your efforts are recognised and some fantastic new opportunity falls into your lap.

However wouldn’t it be nice to know where you are going and have a timetable for achieving your personal goals?

I am not advocating any rash or dramatic changes but I can suggest some simple steps which will help you enormously:

Number 1

Take some time out to answer a few questions about yourself and your future, for example

What do you want to be working at in the short, medium and long term?

Where do you want to be doing this work (location, target companies, employment type)?

What steps should you take in 2017 to help deliver your career targets?

Number 2

Write down a plan of action for developing yourself and your career with target milestones

Number 3

Review and update your plan regularly, at least each quarter

Some of these actions are not easy to complete, especially on your own without support – we in Torc have developed a self analysis toolkit taking you through each stage quite painlessly.

You are invited to contact the office to get a copy – after all you and your career are well worth the effort!

Christmas wishes

by Paddy Collins on December 13th, 2016

Paddy and Izabela, along with the broader Torc team wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to working with you again in 2017.

Does career management matter to organisations?

by Paddy Collins on November 30th, 2016

The answer to the question is a resounding YES; and leadership teams are advised to ensure they have some tangible approaches in place for employees.

Recent research confirms that millenials want to feel they are contributing to achieving business goals; they want to have career paths to pursue; they are entrepreneurial thinkers who relish responsibility, hate micro-management and are concerned about corporate social responsibility.

Keeping  employees engaged with the organisation is important because “those most engaged are 87% less likely to leave a job and are 20% more productive in the workplace”.  However their level of engagement is determined by three main factors: how safe they feel in their workplace, how meaningful their job is and how available senior management are to employees.

Career management is about the future of the organisation, and also about the effective development and deployment of all employees. Get career management right and individuals will feel connected to their work, valued for their contribution, engaged with the organisation, and motivated to contribute. Their willingness to apply and increase their capability will be enhanced.

Manage careers well and the organisation’s capability to meet future demands will be enhanced by its ability to retain existing staff and to attract high quality applicants.  This in turn unlocks the value chain which links personal success, organisation performance and business results.  Get career management wrong, and organisational capability is compromised with employees becoming disengaged or demotivated, or physically by moving to competitors.

One of our current clients is planning to put career management centre stage for 2017 and Torc is helping them develop a range of initiatives including:

– Self awareness and career workshops for employees

– Developing career paths and progression opportunities

– Life planning supports

– Upskilling HR department on career development

– Coaching managers on having meaningful career discussions with their staff

The limitations of in-house Talent Acquisition

by Paddy Collins on October 28th, 2016


Over the past ten years or so many large corporations and tech companies have built internal talent acquisition teams to identify and recruit new staff.

This probably works satisfactorily to an extent, especially for entry level and regular hires, and it saves on headhunter fees. However the approach is self-limiting in a number of ways.


For a variety of reasons it is often necessary to keep a search highly confidential – perhaps to protect current staff, prevent leakage of business strategy, comply with shareholder or regulatory requirements etc. This level of confidentiality can only be achieved through an external partner.

Independence & Reach

Internal talent searchers focus very much on the industry sector, technology clusters and peer companies – especially those that employ people with target skillsets. This is fine up to a point but where there is a need to broaden the search an external consultant can think outside the box, tap into multiple talent pipelines, utilise personal and industry networks and review similar projects in order to unearth hidden gems.

Ethics and Brand Protection

Most companies simply don’t want to steal talent from their peers and regard the practice as contrary to their CSR principles. Equally whereas internal staff will ‘toe the line’ on company message, the external consultant can act as a Brand Ambassador for the company whilst balancing and protecting the interests of all stakeholders – the client brief, the candidates’ career and personal needs and his/her own professional interests.

Torc’s Masterclass Series

by Paddy Collins on September 22nd, 2016

These are designed to present current best thinking on a series of topical subjects, each in a 90 minute slot. Clients may choose just one topic or consider delivering a series.

The Challenge of Change

Embracing Change

Change – Learning to flex and adapt

Influencing Techniques

Developing a ‘Team Brand’

Being the master/architect of my career

Taking charge of my career – do I need a coach or a mentor?

Engaging the heart and minds of all your employees (or your team)

Rules of engagement for High Performing Teams

Decision making and thinking


Understanding ‘millennials’

Building a more collaborative organisation

Stakeholders – Understanding them and relationship management

Trust and its importance in retaining your staff

Stakeholder management and relationship building in the workplace

Setting ground rules to deliver more effective meetings

The power of ‘icebreakers’ – for meetings of different kinds


Emotional Resilience to thrive in difficult circumstances

Positive psychology techniques to support change in oneself and others

If you are interested we will be happy to forward details on any of these topics.