15 Questions Digital Savvy People Ask in an Interview (and This is How They Get Hired!)

Most people, in an interview, emphasize their experience, accomplishments, honors and education. After all, a person should rightfully be proud of who they are and what they have accomplished. Therefore, it appears to make sense to focus on these areas in an interview, sprinkle in a few questions about the company and its competitors and conclude, at the end of the interview, “That went well!”

Unfortunately, the idea that most of this interview is backwards-looking usually never enters their mind. It is only after never hearing back from the company again does one begin to suspect something went wrong, but this silence does not enable a person to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. In fact, it is likely that the questions this person did NOT ask is what ruined their chances. Worst of all, no one will tell them this. In the end, sadly, this person is certainly qualified, but probably still unemployed.

By Allan Thomas Chiulli, DigElearn
www.DigElearn.com

December 15, 2018

Most people, in an interview, emphasize their experience, accomplishments, honors and education. After all, a person should rightfully be proud of who they are and what they have accomplished. Therefore, it appears to make sense to focus on these areas in an interview, sprinkle in a few questions about the company and its competitors and conclude, at the end of the interview, “That went well!”

Unfortunately, the idea that most of this interview is backwards-looking usually never enters their mind. It is only after never hearing back from the company again does one begin to suspect something went wrong, but this silence does not enable a person to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. In fact, it is likely that the questions this person did NOT ask is what ruined their chances. Worst of all, no one will tell them this. In the end, sadly, this person is certainly qualified, but probably still unemployed.

It appears to make sense to focus on these areas in an interview,
sprinkle in a few questions about the company and its competitors
and conclude, at the end of the interview, “That went well!”

Digital Savvy people, however, approach interviews differently. Areas such as experience, accomplishments, honors and education are important, but they are on the resume for anyone to review. Five, maybe ten minutes is spent on these areas as the Digital Savvy person has much more important things to talk about.

The critical element of a Digital Savvy person’s interview is how they actively engage – probing different areas of Digital Transformation, asking questions, seeking explanations, making suggestions, creating discussions, exchanging ideas – about a company’s Digital Transformation Strategy. This person’s ability to help a company address its digital challenges are clearly emphasized and carefully articulated. The Digital Savvy use the interview process to engage in a give-and-take, back-and-forth experience that clearly demonstrates that they provide critical digital knowledge, skills and perspective that an organization needs in a Digital Age.

So, let’s think about it from the interviewer’s perspective: Who would you hire? The “Qualified” person who displays competence over their career (but who doesn’t understand the Digital Age) or the “Needed” person that can come in and rock it in the Digital Age? In the end, the Qualified person gets silence and the Needed person (the Digital Savvy person) gets the opportunity.

The critical element of a Digital Savvy person’s
interview is how they actively engage.

Now, let’s illustrate this different approach: What are the types of questions a Digital Savvy person might ask in an interview? Well, in case you do not know, here is a list of 15 Questions that Digital Savvy people are likely to ask in an interview.

First, however, please understand that these are not “Yes” or “No” questions (unless the person doing the interview is digital obsolete!). Rather, each question is an opportunity to explore and engage where the direction an organization is heading, the strategy they are using, the challenges they face, the resources they are expending and where you could contribute to their Digital Transformation Strategy.

The Qualified person spends their time talking about what they did five or ten years ago while the Digital Savvy person sells themselves as they explore how they can help an organization prosper today and tomorrow in a Digital Age.

Get it? Each question is an opportunity to sell yourself!

Here are the 15 questions (in no special order):

1) How are you using machine learning, chatbots and natural language processing to improve your company’s UX (user experience)?

2) How are you employing The Cloud to create and scale new business models and initiatives?

3) How does validated learning from continuous experiments factor into your data analysis for decision-making?

4) How many experiments are you running per quarter and what is your process (dashboard?) to monitor and evaluate progress, success, failure, validated learning, scale up and drop decisions?

Each question is an
opportunity to sell yourself!

5) How do you communicate and collaborate your Digital Transformation Strategy to your employees, partners, vendors, customers and other stakeholders?

6) How are you using continuous experiments, validated learning, small teams and gig workers to create a continuous ideation and innovation process across your entire organization?

7) Who is ultimately responsible for the success of your Digital Transformation Strategy, why was this person chosen and how is “success” defined by your organization?

8) How are you using validated learning to develop and refine your buyer journey, buyer personas and sales funnel?

9) How is the Platform Revolution helping and/or hurting your organization and what is your next step to leverage Platforms?

10) What are the digital threats that today you might consider a “gradual” threat today, but that could arrive “suddenly”? What are the similar opportunities?

The Digital Savvy person sells themselves as they
explore how they can help an organization
prosper today and tomorrow in a Digital Age.

11) Does, and if so, how does the convergence of technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payments, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), robotics and 3D printing, factor into your long-term plans for Digital Transformation?

12) How does GDPR impact your business and data environment and does GDPR constitute a threat or competitive advantage?

13) How does Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain impact your Digital Transformation Strategy in the near and long term?

14) Are you creating or investing in Startups and where do you see Startups as a threat or opportunity?

15) How do you keep your employees up-to-date on the most recent trends in Digital Transformation and Disruption?

And, as a reward for reading this far, here are five more questions that a Digital Savvy person may ask in an interview:

1) What is the best example of the digital convergence of technologies (such as AI, Big Data, Blockchain, Cloud, IoT and AR/VR) that you have experienced and how did it help this organization?

2) Where do you think your Digital Transformation Strategy faces its biggest challenges?

3) How do you see radical personalization, best possible journey and omnichannel marketing as an opportunity for your organization?

4) How could tech giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Alibaba enter your market by leveraging their platforms, AI, data and UX?

5) Most importantly, what is your plan to create a UX that is the envy of the industry and how important to you is this mission?

Now, I have two questions for you to think about:

1) How many of these questions would you ask if you did not read this blog?

2) Has omitting these digital perspective questions hurt you in past interviews?

Now, you can only use a few of these questions in a single interview and (obviously) many are not applicable to all circumstances. Still, let’s look at the bigger picture: By illustrating the type of questions that Digital Savvy people ask in an interview, you can hopefully develop a better handle on the thinking and perspective used to create the specific questions that you should ask in your next interview.

Has omitting these digital perspective
questions hurt you in past interviews?

Also, the key to your digital success is not simply asking the questions, but in understanding the context of the questions, which allows you to ask the question and begin digital engagement on the subject. Through your digital engagement, you demonstrate how you can help this organization address their challenges in a Digital Age. And, that is how, in an interview, you transform from Qualified to Needed!

The key to your digital success is in
understanding the context of the questions.

I know the difference between Qualified versus Needed from my own personal experience. Despite my status as an author, I still get contacted for positions periodically and always accept an interview opportunity. However, there is a huge difference between my interviews from before I began my journey to Digital Savvy and now. Before, I took the traditional route and got silence in return. And, I would wonder why.

Now, I engage in a Digital Savvy discussion from the get-go! I skip the entire experience, accomplishments, honors and education thing. The results are quite difference: Now, I often not only receive job offers, but I also receive offers to join firms as a partner. Same person, but two very different results.

Now, I engage in a Digital Savvy
discussion from the get-go!

So, if you look at these questions and do not feel comfortable asking them, that’s fine too. There is hope! There is empowerment! You can become Digital Savvy! Our new book “Winning in the Digital Tornado” and membership website at www.DigElearn.com provide a step-by-step, easy-to-follow and easy-to understand Path to Digital Savvy. In this flexible, time-efficient and minimal investment learning experience, I share my own journey in the Digital Tornado and our incredible Path to Digital Savvy.

Using these resources, you can become Digital Savvy. It all up to you. You just have to decide to do it. You will Win in the Digital Tornado!

Please check us out at www.DigElearn.com.

Allan Thomas Chiulli is the co-founder of DigElearn, an online digital learning membership experience at www.DigElearn.com and the author of Winning in the Digital Tornado. Both are guides to digital transformation for business and technical people needing to catch up and stay ahead of digital transformation. Readers may take a free quiz to measure their Digital Savvy at www.DigElearn.com.

Does Ageism Squelch Entrepreneurship?

I walk into the Capital Factory, a start-up incubator in downtown Austin TX, on a Tuesday afternoon. The first thing that strikes you is the incredible energy in the place. In many ways, this is a marketplace of new ideas, but the ambience resembles a Middle Eastern bazaar: Lots of noise, movement and energy as people and ideas fly back and forth. The second thing that strikes you is that this is a young crowd. The old 1960’s hippie adage “Don’t trust anyone over 30” seems in vogue. People older than 30 are rare – they must be the mentors who help the young entrepreneurs. In fact, to a Silicon Valley crowd, 35 is the age where founders, in entrepreneurial terms, are considered over the hill!

An afternoon at the Capital Factory would lead you to believe that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game. The media plays up this stereotype by highlighting the disheveled, metro looks and attitudes of young newly-minted unicorn billionaires. Button down collars and three-piece suits are foreign to this crowd. Tom Agan at the New York Times article summed up most people’s expectations as follows:

By Allan Thomas Chiulli, DigElearn
www.DigElearn.com

December 1, 2018

I walk into the Capital Factory, a start-up incubator in downtown Austin TX, on a Tuesday afternoon. The first thing that strikes you is the incredible energy in the place. In many ways, this is a marketplace of new ideas, but the ambience resembles a Middle Eastern bazaar: Lots of noise, movement and energy as people and ideas fly back and forth. The second thing that strikes you is that this is a young crowd. The old 1960’s hippie adage “Don’t trust anyone over 30” seems in vogue. People older than 30 are rare – they must be the mentors who help the young entrepreneurs. In fact, to a Silicon Valley crowd, 35 is the age where founders, in entrepreneurial terms, are considered over the hill!

The old 1960’s hippie adage
“Don’t trust anyone over 30” seems in vogue.

An afternoon at the Capital Factory would lead you to believe that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game. The media plays up this stereotype by highlighting the disheveled, metro looks and attitudes of young newly-minted unicorn billionaires. Button down collars and three-piece suits are foreign to this crowd. Tom Agan at the New York Times article summed up most people’s expectations as follows:

“The most common image of an innovator is that of a kid developing a great idea in a garage, a dorm room or a makeshift office. This is the story of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple. Last week, Yahoo announced that it had bought a news-reading app developed by Nick D’Aloisio, who is all of 17.”

Still, studies on entrepreneurship may show why 50+ can be the best age to start a business:

We all know the stories of how Ray Kroc (at 52), Colonel Sanders (at 65) and Sam Walton (at 44) founded their amazing business empires. We also read about Reid Hoffman founding LinkedIn at 36, Chip Wilson starting luluemon at 42 and Bernie Marcus creating Home Depot at 50. The list goes on. Vivek Wadhwa, a well-known technologist, stipulates that “ideas come from need, understanding of need comes with experience and experience comes with age.”

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/older-entrepreneurs–the-startup-mentality-is-not-bound-by-age-000959494.html

So, what is the difference between the Capital Factory’s super-bright college student, impatient with classwork, who may even drop out to pursue his or her big idea and the older (40 plus! ?) man or woman as they undertake start-up opportunities?

The most common image of an innovator is that of a kid developing
a great idea in a garage, a dorm room or a makeshift office.

A story from my personal experience may help illustrate a common difference:

In 2002, I was working at Jackson National Life (JNL) where we spent $20 million to build and launch Denver-based Curian Capital, a fractional share-based Separately Managed Account (SMA) program. One day, during the buildout, I was visiting the JNL corporate HQ in Lansing MI when George, JNL’s extremely capable Head of IT, proudly ushered me into their corporate data center to show me his new prize possession: He and his staff beamed with pride as they unveiled a refrigerator-size $1.1 million mini-computer that would power all Curian’s operations. Now, we were still five months away from the launch of the company and had $0 in assets under management (AUM).

Today, this approach would be considered insane and would probably get George summarily fired. No one would dare incur a $1.1 MM fixed cost to create that much excess capacity in data processing. Today, data is on the Cloud at a low, metered (based on usage) variable cost. Additional capacity is added at the turn of a dial on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure dashboard. Now, in 2018, it would take many years to spend the same $1.1 MM on data processing!

The point of the story is that, in a Digital Age, the rules of forming a startup company have changed. These changes are dramatic and for the better. Now, the days of extensive business plans, large upfront capital commitments, long product development cycles, corporate data centers, low and slow data usage, hierarchical management structures, large employee staffs and a “damn the torpedoes” mindset are gone.

In a Digital Age, the rules of forming
a startup company have changed.

If you walk into any Venture Capital (VC) funding pitch meeting today and mention any of the above factors as part of your plan, you can watch the VC folks pull out their iPhones to check their email as you kiss your funding chances goodbye. Of course, this assumes the VC people don’t get up and walk out.

The problem with so-called Ageism is that the Digital Obsolete still think in a year 2000-era frame of reference in building products and companies. So, the problem is not age, but the mindset towards digital transformation of many over the age of 40. So, Ageism does not stifle Entrepreneurship, but becoming Digital Obsolete sure does!!!

This new startup method, used by the Digital Savvy (of all ages), has a name: The Lean Startup, based on Eric Ries’ 2011 book. The essence of this method crystalizes in Ries’ definition of a startup:

A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product
or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+lean+startup

($20.80 Hard Copy New/$11.07 Used/$13.99 Kindle)

According to Ries’, regardless of size, sector or activity, a startup must acknowledge this uncertainty and determine if their a product or service:

  • Solves a problem,
  • Has a scalable market, and
  • Provides a benefit that people are willing to pay for.

If a startup does not satisfy all three of the above criteria, the startup should either be dropped or its product or service must evolve (pivot) to a new offering that does satisfy these three requirements. Assumptions and wishful thinking go out the door and are replaced by highly disciplined data analytics using a Build-Measure-Learn cycle.

Using a Lean Startup mindset and methodology, let’s look at how the Digital Savvy develop ideas, build products and create companies:

OUT: Extensive Business Plan
IN: One-Page Business Model Canvas

50-page ultra-detailed business plans are useless when confronting conditions of extreme uncertainty. Nowadays, no one will read long business plans full of guesswork projections and hockey stick revenue charts. Venture capital people joke that every startup’s business plan shows year three as the big winner! Instead, startups use a one-page, nine section Business Model Canvas. A popular version from Ash Murya is below:

https://blog.leanstack.com/why-lean-canvas-vs-business-model-canvas-af62c0f250f0

Or: search on “one page business model canvas” and click on images for a variety of samples.

OUT: Long Product Development Cycles
IN: Rapid Testing and Iteration

The two-year build and launch cycle is dead and buried. Now, the goal of product development is to learn, as quickly, efficiently and cheaply as possible, whether a product or service satisfies a need, has a market and people will pay for it. These answers come from constant, rapid testing cycles using relatively inexpensive and quick-to-market Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), thereby enabling a startup to generate validated learning supported by extensive data from actual customers. MVPs serve as a platform for rapid Build-Measure-Learn experimentation cycles that build on previous learning, continuing refinement and consistent improvement. DevOps, Agile, microservices and containers follow.

OUT: Large Upfront Capital Commitments
IN: Capital Contributions Tied to Progress

Large upfront commitments are rare as capital contributions are tied to achieving progress milestones. Still, the VCs recognize the inherent uncertainty in startups and that pre-set milestones may be missed. The VCs often weigh their confidence in the startup’s management team and the value of the startup’s validated learning as they evaluate additional contributions.

OUT: Corporate Data Centers and High Fixed Costs
IN: The Cloud and Low Variable Costs

Corporate data centers are out and the dashboard-driven Cloud is in. Capacity is added or removed at the turn of a dial. Data storage also moves to the Cloud and data scientists become extremely valuable.

OUT: Low and Slow Data Usage
IN: AI-Driven Predictive Analytics

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and the Cloud work hand-in-hand, that is, they converge into a single operating experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) is also important as remote devices are loaded with powerful Internet-connected sensors and processing power. Decisions are pushed to the edge, where the sensors are located as AI-driven predictive analytics replace guesswork.

OUT: Large Staffs of Employees
IN: A Core Team Surrounded by Gig Talent

Large, expensive staffs of employees are out. Core teams supplemented by gig workers form new teams, accomplish their task and are disbanded. The gig workers are talent, as they move to new teams or move back and forth among teams at different companies.

OUT: Hierarchical Management Structures
IN: Flat, Flexible Teams

The constant experimentation, and decisions whether to proceed to scale, require a flat management structure with a free-flow of information and the elimination of pet projects and vested interests. Innovation and responsibility are distributed and flattened. Leaders provide the vision and ensure a healthy ecosystem of core, talent, resources, experimentation, validated learning, technology, scaling, partners and distributors.

OUT: A “Damn the Torpedoes” Mindset
IN: Validated Learning and, Possibly, a Pivot

Today’s entrepreneurs should never assume anything! The “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” mindset of yesterday is replaced by constant experimentation, an openness towards learning and an understanding that failed experiments are expected, valuable and instructive. In fact, too little failure may signal constricted thinking. Amazing transformations have occurred during Build-Measure-Learn cycles. The result may be a pivot: The original product or service is dropped in favor of a new product or service based on MVP-based validated learning that a revised product solves a problem, has a scalable market and that people will pay for it.

Here are seven famous business pivots by startups:

  • Twitter: Began as Odeo, which helped people find podcasts.
  • Paypal: Began as Confinity, as people beamed payments from their PalmPilots.
  • Groupon: Began as The Point, which was a social fundraising site.
  • Flickr: Began as Role Neverending, an online role-playing game.
  • com Began as Fabulis, a social network targeted towards gay men.
  • Pinterest: Began as Tote, which allowed people to browse and shop their favorite retailers.
  • Instagram: Began as Burbn, a check-in app that began as an online game.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/10/08/14-famous-business-pivots/

As we see, Ageism does not stifle Entrepreneurship, but being Digital Obsolete can. The rules governing startups changed – startups are faster, sleeker and cheaper than before. In fact, VCs at one time despised the Cloud, as the VCs received large chunks of equity in return for funding a startup’s data center. Now, VCs give away free Cloud credits to startups. The reason is that the Cloud enables the VCs, with the same amount of capital, to reduce risk as they diversify their portfolios across a larger number of startups.

This new startup method, used by the
Digital Savvy, has a name: The Lean Startup.

The Lean Startup is an important element in the human side of digital transformation and one that entrepreneurs of any age ignore at great risk to their new endeavors.

If you are not sure if you are Digital Savvy, then please go to our www.DigElearn.com website and take the FREE Progress to Digital Savvy quiz. Regardless of a high or low score, you now have a starting point to measure your improvement. Also, please visit our FREE digital learning resources and look at our membership programs.

You will Win in the Digital Tornado!

Allan Thomas Chiulli is the co-founder of DigElearn, an online digital learning membership experience at www.DigElearn.com and the author of Winning in the Digital Tornado. Both are guides to digital transformation for business and technical people needing to catch up and stay ahead of digital transformation. Readers may take a free quiz to measure their Digital Savvy at www.DigElearn.com.