Archive by Author | Jim Mikula

How to Handle a Behavior Event Interview

A lot of times when you go to an interview, you’ll get questions that ask you to describe how you handled a difficult situation with a customer, boss, co-worker or subordinate. You may also be asked to talk about a specific example of how you improved a process with your work, or made things more efficient. These are what we call “behavior event interviews,” and they can be challenging if you are not prepared for them because the questions are so open-ended.

Fortunately, these are also the kinds of questions that you can prepare for ahead of time. As you do so, consider the acronym BAR:

  • Background: At the outset of your response to any behavior event interview question, you will want to give a background of the project in question, or the relationship that you will be discussing. The point is to give the interviewer a glimpse at the big picture for some context.
  • Action: Next, give an overview of the specific actions that you took to resolve the situation in question. The key word here is “specific,” so give whatever examples you can, including how you collaborated with others, what analytics you used to determine a project’s weak points, etc. Give your interviewers a look into your thought process. This should make up the bulk of your answer.
  • Results: Finally, close your response with the results that your action had and how it improved either your company as a whole or your relationship with someone in your business.

This system is a simple way to prepare yourself for any BEI-type question. Keep it in mind the next time you go in for an interview!


Don’t Base Your Happiness On Other People’s Lives

Another key point from Tim Hoch’s article in Thought Catalog, “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than it Has to Be.”

The seventh point of the article is “you constantly compare your life to others.” Chances are, we’ve all had moments where we take a look at what other people have (money, jobs, success, relationships) and get green with envy. There have even been a lot of studies performed recently about the effect that social media has on a person’s overall happiness — seeing the highlights of other people’s lives can occasionally make us feel depressed, because we feel as though we have to compare what we have to what others have.

But there are many problems with this. For one, we need to realize that when we compare ourselves to others, we tend to idealize the lives that other people have, when in reality everyone has their own unique challenges and hardships that they face on a daily basis. “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

The biggest problem, though, is that the need to compare ourselves to others will never produce happiness. We cannot control the lives of other people, but we can control our own lives and, therefore, our own happiness. If there is something in our lives that we are unhappy with, we have the ability to change it.

Good Compensation Means More than Just Cash

Once again we turn our attention to Impending Crisis by Roger Herman. Today we are discussing another point in his book, the importance of good compensation and benefits.

It’s no secret that employees’ decisions to remain with a company or take a new position elsewhere are based heavily on the kind of compensation that they can receive. However, compensation and benefits mean more than just the salary level they can enjoy. They’re also very much concerned with benefits like insurance coverage, profit sharing, direct deposit, childcare and more.

Now, not every company can necessarily afford to provide the same benefits, or the best insurance and retirement packages available. But what is important to employees is that you clearly invest yourself in their wellbeing and their morale as an employee. Having a strong set of benefits, even if it’s not necessarily the best possible benefits available, shows employees that you care about them and want to keep them on your team.

Additionally, you have to consider the kind of fringe benefits that you can offer as well, including flexibility, personality, paid time off, sick leave and more. Have you considered pet insurance? How about giving your employees one or two days off a year to volunteer at their favorite charity? Do you have enough of these kinds of extra benefits to convince people to want to stick around?

Review the benefits and compensation that you offer at your company, and be honest with yourself: would they be enough to make you want to stay with your company? If not, it’s time to consider making some changes.

Are Smartphones the Big New Addiction?

Just about everyone has a smart phone these days, and those devices are always in constant reach. So as these devices become more and more powerful, are Americans slowly growing addicted to them?

According to a recent report from The Washington Post, it’s tough to diagnose an addiction to these devices when you consider how often these devices are used and how one device has taken the place of so many others. Think about it — smartphones are now phones, web browsers, shopping portals, calculators, game systems, cameras and so much more.

While the use of cell phones doesn’t cause chemical addiction in the same way that drugs, alcohol or cigarettes do, some experts compare cell phone use to gambling or video games in that they can still cause behavioral addictions. So while you don’t necessarily get a high or a buzz from constant use of a smart phone like you do from certain drugs, there is still the chance of losing control over the amount of time you spend on your phone. After all, a primary characteristic of addiction is fractured relationships, as well as poor work performance.

In the end, it’s important to remember that addiction isn’t just something that you do a lot. For a person to be truly addicted to a smartphone, there has to be a loss of control involved.

Do you see that addiction manifesting itself in anyone you know, or even yourself?

Good questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you take your phone with you and look at it at a restaurant?
  • Is it sitting on your night stand at night?
  • Do you take it on vacation?  Do you check work or personal emails while on vacation?
  • Do you pay more attention to your phone than your loved ones…spouse, children, etc?
  • Do you spend more time looking at your phone than when you’re watching your favorite tv show?
  • Do you look at it while driving?
  • Do you look at it while walking around the office or just walking down the street?

If you’ve answered the majority of the questions with a ‘yes’…maybe it’s time to take control of the device and turn it off…or put it away for a while.

Failure to Take Risks Leads to Failure to Succeed

As we continue to look at Tim Hoch’s great article from Thought Catalog called “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than it Has To Be,” we are going to analyze point six: “You don’t take risks.”

It’s easy for us to get comfortable in the world of business. We find a position that we might not necessarily love, but gives us good pay, good benefits or whatever else it is that keeps us satisfied.

But maybe you don’t want to just be satisfied. Maybe you have an opportunity to take a risk and shoot for a new position, start a new company or introduce a bold new product. In these cases, your comfort could be the very thing that’s holding you back.

It’s understandable if you are nervous about taking risks — you should be! No risk should ever be taken lightly, and it’s probably going to be a little scary at first. But in the long run, would you rather go the rest of your professional life wondering what would have happened had you jumped at the chance to take that risk, and regretting the decision you made to just say comfortable instead?

Ultimately, our own comfort with our careers could also be what holds us back from achieving our dreams. You’re going to have to take risks fairly often if you want to progress in your career, and while the risk might not always pay off, it’s better than never taking a risk at all.

Give Your Employees the Opportunity to Do Meaningful Work

We’re back to looking at some of the key points made in the book Impending Crisis by Roger Herman. According to Herman, one of the biggest ways to attract and keep high-quality employees is by giving them the chance to do something meaningful.

People don’t want to get up every day and go to a place where they’re doing what they feel is “just a job.” They want to know that they’re making a difference, whether it’s in the lives of customers, clients, the general public or otherwise. They want to be able to see firsthand how the work that they do impacts other people.

Another aspect of this is that they want to be able to do work that is meaningful to themselves. We have already talked about growth and opportunity as being primary factors for good employees to stay in a job — that sort of growth and personal enrichment makes a person’s work that much more meaningful.

So what can employers do to help make work more meaningful? You may try letting your employees get more involved in the design of your work or the strategic planning of your business to help them get more invested and give them more of a hand in the kind of impact your company has. You might attempt to do more outreach work within a community, or sponsor local events. Simply giving people a chance to make a difference can also make a difference in your workplace.

Four Things You Can’t Take Back

Four Things You Can’t Recover From:

  • The word – after it’s said
  • The occasion – after it’s missed
  • The time – after it’s gone 
  • The stone – after it’s thrown 


We often talk about how we can set ourselves up for success, or get off on the right foot with potential clients or new employees. But what happens when we say or do something that we wind up regretting later?

Here are four examples of things that you unfortunately cannot take back:


  • The Word – After It’s Said
    Have you ever said something to a potential job candidate that you really wish you could take back? To avoid a situation like this, it’s extremely important that you are able to see your company through the eyes of your candidates and present the image that you want people to see.
  • The Occasion – After It’s Missed
    Every day there will be opportunities that present themselves to improve yourself or your company: potentially great employees, excellent seminars, networking events, etc. Simply put, life is too short to miss out on every single opportunity that crosses your path.
  • The Time – After It’s Gone
    You can’t get back lost time, which makes it even more important to constantly be working toward all of your goals. Stay committed and make this the year that you take advantage of the time you have.
  • The Stone – After It’s Thrown
    Always remain positive. You can never take back negative remarks about your competitors, your coworkers or your work in general. Negativity strongly affects how potential candidates view you.


Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to regret anything you do in your career. Consider how you can prevent yourself from getting into situations where you wish you could take back your actions.

Don’t Wait for a Sign to Arrive!

Returning to Tim Hoch’s Thought Catalog article,“10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be” we’re going to tackle point number 5,“Waiting for a Sign.”

Chances are you or someone you know have at some point uttered the phrase, “I’m not sure if it’s the right time. I’m just waiting for a sign.” Of course, there is something to be said for a belief in fate or a higher power, which is typically what this phrase is referring to. But at some point, it’s important that you take your success into your own hands.

Think of it this way: would you rather take charge of your own destiny, or sit around and wait in hopes that someone will do it for you? If you are truly concerned with achieving success in your life, you need to take responsibility for reaching out and grabbing it yourself. Even if fate plays a role in our lives, it doesn’t hurt to try to influence fate ourselves. The last thing you want is to miss out on a major opportunity because you didn’t get the “sign” you were waiting for.

Secrets to Keeping Your Top People

As we continue to analyze some of the key points made in Roger Herman’s Impending Crisis, our next step is to emphasize the importance of Herman’s point about providing space for growth and opportunity.

Outstanding employees are drawn to positions in which they will have the ability to grow both personally and professionally. While highly motivated employees always have an eye on their future marketability as job candidates elsewhere, providing constant opportunities for growth, advancement and new experiences will make them much more likely to settle into a position with a company for a longer period of time.

Companies should do everything they can to facilitate growth on the part of their employees. They should encourage employees to engage in additional training, gain new experiences and take on new responsibilities. For true go-getters that are looking to get on the fast track, companies should be prepared to allow them to grow rapidly, yet in a controlled and supportive environment.

As soon as these employees begin to get bored or feel as though they are stagnating, they are going to be likely to move on to the next job. It’s the employer’s responsibility to prevent such stagnation from occurring.

What is the Value of a College Degree?

With college graduates being steeped in deeper debt than ever before, it’s not unreasonable for people to be questioning what the true value of a college degree is in this day and age. However, some research into debt and university costs presented by an article in Liberty Street Economics indicates that the value of a bachelor’s degree today is still at approximately the same record-high value it’s been at for the past decade.

The authors of the article, Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, use a statistic called “net present value (NPV)” to describe the dollar value of a bachelor’s degree. While the NPV of a bachelor’s degree has fallen slightly since its peak in 2000, it is still among the highest levels it’s ever been at, and significantly higher than where it was in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s.

Meanwhile, the amount of years needed to recoup the cost of a bachelor’s degree has been on a downward trend since the early 1980s, when it peaked at around 23 years. Today, it takes about ten years for the average graduate to regain the amount of money spent on a college education, slightly up from the low point of eight to nine years hit in 2000 and 2012. This means that despite the challenges of the job market perceived in college graduates today, they’re actually getting back the money they spent on their degree in near-record time with the value of that degree at a near-record high.

These numbers show more reason to believe that things are looking up in financially for recent college graduates who are still experiencing sticker shock over their student loans.