Here’s a killer job interview question

The October 24, 2010 New York Times did a Q&A with Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, producers of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice.  When interviewing prospective executives he asks this:  “You’re really smart, but do you know how to make money?  Tell me some things about how you made money.”

“Let me tell you, nothing kills an interview like that,” Feld said.

Even if you work in the public sector — no, especially if you work in the public sector —  you should have an answer that question.  It will keep you focused on your mission and on your bottom line.

(In the mid-1980s, while working at PR Associates, I did local media relations for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you about booking the bear act on “Kelly & Company.”)

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  1. Edward Marsh


    Hi Sharlan,

    That was a great article. Mr. Feld’s question would stop most people, it just came up with me in a recent client interview. In the service sector we have to always remind and explain how and why we affect the ROI for our clients.

    As a graphic designer, my work is constantly taken as window dressing or wallpaper, something that is founded upon principles of aesthetic consideration only with no other value. The client’s opinion on a color choice or typeface is seemingly as valid as mine unless I can back up my reasoning with fact and example. Nothing like giving a client a $olid example of what our work will do for their business based on past experience.

    Thanks again for the great blog. Always interesting and insightful.


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