Monday, April 25, 2011

Setting the multifamily world a-Twitter

An industry friend (who shall remain nameless, unless she desires to name herself) recently asked me to list my top ten multifamily tweeters, and provide some insight as to why I rank them so highly. In alphabetical order, here are my picks.
  1. @30lines
  2. @artchickhb
  3. @BSitko
  4. @CharityHisle
  5. @Eric_Urbane
  6. @LisaTrosien
  7. @mbj
  8. @mbrewer
  9. @SGreenough
  10. @trainingfactor
My list is pretty varied: it includes industry consultants, vendors, trainers, speakers, and execs from management companies. But in my eyes, what unites all of these individuals is their passion for the multifamily industry, and their commitment to making it a better space. If you check out any one of these Twitter accounts, you'll see lots of smart conversations. (And some silly ones, but I personally happen to like that. All business and no play makes for a dull interaction, in my book.) You'll also see tons of information and ideas being shared. These folks have their finger on the pulse of what works and what doesn't, and they're more than willing to share their opinions and experiences in an effort to pave the road for the rest of us through conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and blogs. (For the record, many of these people manage numerous social media accounts—both personal and professional—and multiple blogs. In what hour of the day, I have no idea, but I am in awe of their efforts, nonetheless.) If all that weren't enough, these people also donate their time and wisdom to various local and national multifamily organizations, speak at many of the industry's best known conferences, and participate in webinars and online chats.

I'm so proud to be part of the multifamily world: when you have such smart, generous people in your industry, it's really hard to NOT be excited about what you do. If my friend's "assignment" had been to think of a list of 20, or even 50 individuals, I would have happily done so: there are many more who share the passion and insight of my short list above.

Who's on your must-follow list? Please weigh in and share your thoughts in the comments section.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Interviewing 101

    I haven't had much time to blog the last few weeks: work has been super-busy, and most nights I simply come home and crash. However, I'm hopeful that my workload will be lightened a little bit within the next month or so, as I'm in the process of interviewing summer interns, and am thrilled about some of the candidates that have applied. Most of the students I've spoken with are smart, well-spoken, and eager to roll up their sleeves to get that coveted "real world experience" (and trust me, the experience will be plenty; even with an amazing executive assistant, I've got plenty of projects waiting in the wings). I've interviewed seven candidates over the last two days, and have several more meetings planned for this week. With all of the discussions swirling fresh in my head, and prime interviewing season upon us, I thought I'd share a couple of tips for interns and new grads.

    Look the part. I work in marketing. I don't wear a suit, and I don't expect you to wear one (though I think that candidates who do choose to wear a suit look very sharp). But please, look professional. If you're wearing a rumpled, casual shirt, I'm concerned that you're going to show the same disregard for your work. First impressions count. 

    Know why you're there.
    I asked one candidate what had attracted him to apply for the position, and he said, "Nothing in particular." Though he might have thought that his honesty would have won me didn't. I'm passionate about what I do, and want to work with people who feel the same way. It's okay if you respond that you're looking for some real-world experience: that's what an internship is for. And if you mention specific parts of the role that piqued your interest, you get extra points, since you've shown me that you either have expertise that you're willing to lend, or that you're keen to learn more. Both are outstanding attributes.

    Be prepared to talk about your past jobs, internships and volunteer experiences.
    I've already read your resume, so I have some sense of your accomplishments. As a manager, I want to know what aspects of your previous jobs you liked, what you didn't, and (most importantly) why. Yes, I realize that it can be difficult to relate summer jobs to life in a corporate office, but if you can't tell me what aspects of a job appeal to you, or what you learned from a particular role, I won't be able to give you work that you find compelling. I waited tables for a few summers while I was in college, and I can't think of a better job to test out your multitasking and communication skills. Don't believe me? The next time you go out to dinner, watch the wait staff. Are they friendly and engaged, or are they terse and frazzled? At times we all have assignments that we may find tedious or boring, but if someone asks you what you like, seize that opportunity to express your enthusiasm. The "why" factor of your likes and dislikes is especially important, since everyone relates differently. One candidate might quake in terror at the thought of having an unpredictable day; another might have a strong distaste for monotony. There is no wrong answer to the question, "What did you like, and why?" Hiring managers simply want to know how you work.

    Ask (smart) questions.
    The old saying, "There's no such thing as a stupid question" isn't really true when it comes to interviewing, in my book. Spend some time researching the company that you're interviewing with, so that you have a basic understanding of what your future manager deals with on a day-to-day basis. Read through the position description several times, and ask for clarification on things that you don't understand. I don't expect you to have all of the answers. When candidates ask things like, "What exactly do you mean by 'market research'?" and "How often do you write press releases?" I want to cheer: it means that particular candidate has done their homework, and that he or she is genuinely interested in the position. That interest, in turn, makes me more interested in the candidate. On a related note, make sure that you DO ask at least a few questions. If a candidate says that he or she doesn't have any questions after we've only talked for fifteen minutes, I find that disappointing; it shows a lack of curiosity and motivation. Trust me on this: hiring managers want you to ask questions. 

    Every question we ask has a purpose. Early in my career, I was interviewing for a role via video conference (this was before the days of Skype). The interview seemed to be going really well, and then the interviewer said, "Tell me how you'd make your perfect ice cream sundae." I had absolutely no idea what to say, and I'm sure I gaped into the camera. Fortunately, I recovered quickly, was able to answer the question, and was later offered the role. Once I became a manager myself, I realized that this type of question reveals a lot about a candidate: Can she think on the fly? How creative is she? How detail-oriented? I fully understand that off-the-wall questions can shake even the most prepared candidates. Rest assured, our goal isn't to stump or embarrass you, but rather to see how you respond under pressure.

    If you want it, ask for it.
    I'll be honest: this is a pretty hard thing to do, especially if you're new to interviewing. Out of the seven candidates I've spoken with so far, only one has written me a post-interview note expressing her interest in the role. (In case you're wondering, she is one of the top contenders.) Know that your enthusiasm is contagious: if you're smart, and competent, and qualified for the role, and you tell me that you want the position, I'm going to take that at face value. If you offer me a limp handshake and walk away, I'm going to assume that perhaps you're not that interested after all.

    I'll keep you posted on our search. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what other hiring managers see when interviewing, and what candidates think of managers' interviewing practices. Please weigh in with your comments below.