Basic strategy to get the (right) leadership job

SOMETHING enjoyable about blackjack compared to slots or roulette is that there is strategy involved. It is kind of fun to learn blackjack strategy and challenge yourself to apply it consistently. It is called basic strategy, and most casinos will give you a card or pamphlet that you can put in front of you and refer to as you play.

A good dealer knows basic and will tell you what to play if you aren’t sure–and yes, the dealer wants you to win. Basic is also why that player got up and left in disgust when you didn’t hit on a soft 17 to the dealer’s 2.

Unless you combine basic strategy with counting cards, basic maximizes your odds against the house; however, it will not guarantee success, and will never put your odds of winning above the house’s odds.

This series can be thought of as basic strategy for getting the leadership job. Do not mistake this as basic in the sense of simple; think of it as foundational. It is an art and a skill, and requires you to do things that might not come naturally. But it’s what the best do. It will maximize your odds of getting the (right) job, but not guarantee success in the short term.

Basic strategy at the table requires an understanding (or at least acceptance) of statistics. In order to apply basic strategy to help you get the job, you need to understand some foundational concepts about how competent hiring managers think and how effective hiring systems are designed–and the weaknesses of both.


The first post in this series established important truths about your position in a competently run hiring process:

  1. It is not feasible (and is logically impossible on its face) to prepare such that you are “the only choice possible” to hire as a result of your performance in the interview.
  2. It is possible to prepare for the hiring process to “get out of your own way” and to most effectively communicate your capabilities and who you actually are. This increases the likelihood that the hiring team will be able to determine more effectively the fit between:
  • your skills/capabilities and the job
  • you and the team
  • you and the organization’s culture

And as a result, increase the likelihood that you will get the job if you’re the right candidate. In fact, if you prepare for an interview with point 1. (above) as your goal, a well-trained, experienced interviewer will be finished with you after 15 minutes, but have to muscle through the rest of the allotted time anyway.

To begin applying basic strategy, you first need to understand the hiring process from the perspective of the “house”–or in this case the hiring team. Key things to understand about hiring:

  1. Hiring is a bet. The organization is betting on your future performance based upon information available today, typically gathered through interviews, testing, background checks, work history, experience, references, etc.
  2. Hiring risk increases as the role/job increases in its scope of influence. Because the wrong hire at a high-level position can do untold amounts of harm. Thus, the higher-up the leadership ladder you enter the organization, you should expect the organization will manage the risk of its hiring bet by gathering more information about you.
  3. You tend to repeat past behavior and performance. Thus, your past performance is among the best predictors of your future performance, given similar circumstances.

Hiring is all about fit:

  • Role/job fit predicts how well you’ll perform the task/performance aspects of the job.
  • Team fit predicts how well you’ll get along with and relate to others, and the kind of culture you’ll promote (positive or negative).
  • Culture fit predicts how long you’re likely to stay with the organization, as well as how likely you are to go above and beyond the minimum of your role/job expectations.

As a candidate for a leadership job/role, understanding these fundamentals should shape your thinking and behavior in the job search and hiring process.


In my blackjack career (of maybe 10 total plays), I’m up a few thousand bucks because I trust basic strategy, even when I lose money on a given night–that’s what the players who win over time do, and I want to be one of those people. It takes self-knowledge and discipline in order to stick with the basic and walk away at the right time.

I always start with the same “lose-limit” and if that’s gone in 5 minutes, I’m finished. If it goes on for a few hours, I had fun. The nights that basic strategy helps me win 5 times my initial buy-in are lots of fun. It works, and happens, especially if you learn it, apply it, match it with a smart betting strategy, and walk away at the right time.

Success with blackjack is not much different than getting the (right) job–your first step is to improve your self-knowledge and learn to be disciplined in your approach.

That’s the subject of the next post in this series.