Before You Accept: Questions to Ask Interviewers

Approximately 29% of workers plan to look for a new job in 2018, according to a survey from Accountemps. If you are one of them and fortunate enough to earn interviews, expand your preparation beyond researching the employer and anticipating interview questions. Consider what you will want to know about the job (besides the compensation package). In particular, for a Commercial Card program manager or administrator position, following are possible questions to ask interviewers at some point during the interview process to help you evaluate whether the job could be right for you.

Possible Questions

Before the interview, determine what is most important to you. What program drawbacks or challenges can you deal with? Every program has them. What will be too frustrating for you? Gather a mix of information—facts, opinions, and perceptions.

Program Facts and Metrics

  • What card products/solutions are used today?
  • Who is the card provider? When does the contract end?
  • What technology solutions are used for program management?
  • What is the current program size (spend, transactions, cardholders, geography)?
  • What percentage of B2B payments are captured via the card program?

Organization Vision

  • What are the organization’s program goals and objectives?
  • How does the organization want to grow the program (e.g., more cardholders, additional countries, new allowed spend categories)?
  • Where do cards rank in terms of the overall payment strategy?

Perspectives, Buy-in, and Support

  • What are the biggest program challenges?
  • What are the biggest opportunities?
  • What are the most notable program successes to date?
  • Tell me about program buy-in by cardholders, their managers, and executives. Does anyone resist or resent the program?
  • How do procurement and accounts payable provide program support?

Auditing and Accountability

  • What have recent audits revealed about the program?
  • Who performs transaction auditing? How does the auditing occur (manually or via technology)?
  • Is everyone, including executives, held accountable for their respective card program role?
Look for the right job for you. Ask questions about the card program to evaluate whether the job would be a good fit.

Look for the right job for you. Ask questions about the card program to evaluate whether the job would be a good fit.

    About the Position

    • What qualities do you feel are most important in a card program manager?
    • What should be the priorities of the next program manager?
    • Is the role a decision maker for the program?
    • Are you looking for the next program manager to instigate change?

    Final Thoughts

    While everyone will have different priorities, I think there are some universal red flags. I would steer clear of a program that:

    • is not supported by management
    • is plagued with audit findings
    • fails to hold employees accountable  

    Conversely, an organization eager to improve and/or expand the card program—with the program manager leading the way—would be a good sign. Still, it pays to dig deeper before accepting any position, especially if/when some of the questions posed to you by an interviewer seem strange.

    For related resources, such as tips for hiring a program manager/administrator, visit the Program Management page.


    About the Author

    Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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      Is workplace impropriety the elephant in the room?

      First Harvey Weinstein, then Capitol Hill. Fall 2017 has had its fill of news about workplace scandals. While Hollywood and Washington D.C. may seem completely different than our less glamorous jobs, no industry is immune from the type of misconduct we have been hearing about. The stories are sickening. Yet, I also wonder about the incidents that never make headlines—the uncomfortable workplace scenarios for which there is no outright policy violation. What should someone do in these cases, especially when the instigator holds a position of power?

      In my first job out of college, my manager’s boss was what I would classify as a creep. He never violated any company policies, but his “innocent” comments—paired with his obvious stares—were telling. He made me uncomfortable, but nothing he did was “reportable.” I absolutely felt my subordinate status, as well as my tender age of 22, so I ignored his behavior and tried to avoid him. My colleagues might have been dealing with the same thing, but no one talked about it. There were only rumors about his preference in hiring peppy, petite females. 

      Looking back, I wish I had felt more empowered to speak up, to respectfully convey how I felt. However, I imagine he would have stressed his innocence, and I would have walked away feeling stupid and doubting myself. Who knows how speaking up would have impacted my career. Whether a blatant offense or subtle innuendo, those at the receiving end do not always have good options. A recent CNN article about Capitol Hill makes this abundantly clear. In one way or another, victims are faced with consequences, even if they ultimately triumph.

      What To Do

      Back to my earlier question of what to do. I strive to offer blog posts with action items, but this time I do not have clear answers. We teach children about “stranger danger” and warn teens about online predators. I’m not convinced that there is enough dialogue with young people entering the work force about the improprieties they may encounter and what their options might be. We need to better prepare them because we cannot assume that employer policies and related training, no matter how strong, will protect everyone. I realize that workers of any age can be victims. I’m specifying young people because I believe this is when the education should begin—at the ground level. However, for anyone who experiences workplace discomfort due to another employee (“reportable” or not), the best path may be to consult with HR.

      Last, but not least, I have to put in a word for the truly innocent people who are falsely accused. Unfortunately, there will always be a handful of people who take advantage of the system out of spite. I don’t know what else to say. Being careful about the colleagues with whom we associate will not guarantee anything.

      Final Thoughts

      Commercial Card content will return for the next post. I was compelled to write about workplace misconduct this week because of my own mild experience that came flooding back to me while reading articles on the well-publicized scandals. I cannot imagine the pain that surely comes with greater ordeals.


      Security Alert

      On a completely different note, LinkedIn accounts are getting hacked. For more information, I published a related article today:   https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-accounts-getting-hacked-lynn-larson/


      About the Author

      Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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      Hang on or let go? When you are outvoted.

      What does an organization’s payment strategy have in common with the current U.S. presidential election and, earlier, the UK vote on whether to leave the European Union? In the simplest terms, there are winner and losers. One side gets what they want. The other side has to figure out how to react. We have all been part of the latter group at some point in our careers. Card program buy-in—something I have written about before (see related blog post)—is a prime example of what can polarize an organization. What if you have exhausted all avenues to improving program buy-in and nothing has worked? What do you do? Following are four possible reactions. Only one can benefit your career, so read on to learn what it is and what actions go along with it.

      When You Do Not Get Your Way

      You believe card payments are a no-brainer. Management does not agree or they have different priorities, even though you have tried everything to convince them otherwise. Common reactions include becoming:

      1. Hostile: U.S. news headlines have indicated some Trump supporters plan to revolt if Clinton wins the election. Such strong reactions generally do not lead to anything good. On the job, hostility could mean threatening to quit or roadblock any initiative for which you do not agree.
      2. Disinterested: You lose motivation. Your productivity drops. Sloppiness can set in. This reaction, like hostility, often means poor job performance reviews and a hit to your reputation.  
      3. Annoying: Perseverance is one thing. Being annoying is another. Management could perceive you as difficult when you push too hard. As a passionate card program manager, I admit to being in this category a time or two. The good news is, passion can transition to #4.
      4. Resilient: This is what will benefit your career. You are defeated, but not beaten down. You resolve to make the best of a situation. New Britain Prime Minister Theresa May did not support Brexit, but she is trying to support the people (the “winners” of the vote) and move the country forward. 
      Resiliency often requires a combination of hanging on while also letting go. Success is determined by knowing what to put in each category.

      Resiliency often requires a combination of hanging on while also letting go. Success is determined by knowing what to put in each category.

      Resilient Actions: What You Can Do

      Besides looking for a new job, you can still shine in your current one:

      • Ensure you know the goals of your organization or department and determine how you can contribute, which might require a conversation with your manager.
      • Expand your knowledge, whether it is Commercial Cards or a related topic like eInvoicing.
      • Engage with your card provider to acquire more best practices and tips for strengthening your program within the realm of your control.
      • Provide excellent customer service to cardholders.
      • Address any control gaps.

      Finally, do not completely abandon your program buy-in efforts. A future change in management can reignite organization interest in card payments. If/when this happens, be ready with actions to expand the card program.


      About the Author

      Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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