…great lesson in interviewing

 Had a great VP of Sales job provided to me from an executive VP who I placed 25 years ago and he remembered me.  It’s a good job, a front line management position with seven reports, the company is phenomenal and the growth and earnings potential are excellent.

I call one of my candidates, Don. Here’s how the conversation went:

I explained to Don what the opportunity was and how it would be good for him…the company…the job.. the executive VP…the works!

Don: “Tony, I am just absolutely so covered up. I can’t do any kind of interview. I got my kickoff meeting coming up that I need to prepare for. I know I need to leave this lousy company that I’m at. I hate the place, but I’m just so covered up I can’t interview anywhere. It sounds like an okay job, but I just am too covered up to give it any time today.”

Tony: “I know you’re covered up, good people always are, but we’ve been looking for a new position about six months now and we haven’t found but one interview since then. Positions like this at the money you make are really hard to find and you owe it to yourself to speak to these people. It’s only going to be 30 or 45 minutes of video call and you owe it to yourself to at least talk to the guy.”

Don: “I know these things are hard to find, but I’m just so covered up with all the things I have to do I just can’t take the time to do it. And I’m going to get a bonus at the end of this month and I probably won’t leave here even though I hate the place until then.”

Tony: “Don, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to the guy…even if it’s for down the road.”

Don: “Well Tony, I’ll do it for you because you’ve been trying so hard to get me interviews. I’ll make you look good. But I’m just too covered up and stressed.”

Don has the interview. Don calls me.

Don: “Wow Tony, you were right. That’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever interviewed with. It’s a great job and it fits me perfectly. We talked for an hour and he’s moving me to the next level of interviews. I really like him and he says that I would be one of the top contenders. It’s a $20,000 better base than I’ve got now, the company was just taken back private and it’s going to be going public in three to five years. There is lots of stock and the job is perfect. I’m anxious to go to the next level.”

Moral: NEVER pass up an interview!

…30 60 90 day plan

One of my candidates who studied my online program, www.thejobsearchsolution.com,

was one of four finalists for a V.P. of the West for a company..he goes into the executive interview video with the CEO, the Exec. V.P. and two other V.P.’s…he makes a presentation of what he would do in the first 30-60-90 days with a plan modeled after what the program taught him…one advantage of zoom interviews is that you can interject PowerPoint tight screens, which he did.

He gets the job…turns out he is the only candidate that did anything like that….$180,000 base and with bonuses he will make $400,000…not bad for simply following instructions.

….good news

For those of you that read this blog religiously, you will remember the quote last week from the employer who interviewed one of my candidates. For those of you that didn’t catch it, here’s what happened: I sent two candidates to an employer, and here is what he wrote about one of the candidates:

“Seemed distant, poor body language, and lacked enthusiasm.  He also seemed to not have done much diligence on researching our company or preparing questions that would give him more insight into the position or general responsibilities.  His previous production numbers also seemed askew from what our expectations for the role would be, which I know I’ve shared with you.  When asked about how he would go about prospecting into smaller clients than at his last two positions, he replied by defining a market segment that was not in line with the market segment I had just explicitly defined.  Also, he was dressed in an unpressed button down shirt and slacks–no tie, no jacket.  While I would not find this an automatic disqualifier, combined with the other mitigating factors, I do not believe he will be a good fit at our organization.”

Well, the candidate got hired Friday. (It was not one of our clients, but that’s okay. We’re really proud of him.) He said that he learned from his interviewing mistakes. He did research on the company. He had some really good questions. He said he was more engaged in the interview. He said that he made it a lot more clear what his production and previous performance numbers were. He said that he dressed much more professionally.

He thanked me for what he learned and was grateful that he found a position. We are very proud of him and confident that if he keeps learning what he did here, he’ll do fine.

It’s rather unfortunate that hiring authorities decide about a person’s ability to do a job based on their interview performance. But, interviewing is like democracy, it’s not really fair, but it’s the best we’ve got.

Congratulations to our candidate!

 

…It can’t get any more clear than this

I had two candidates interview at the same place back-to-back. On paper, both of them were equal. Both had different backgrounds, but experientially. They were about the same. Here is the feedback the hiring manager wrote me:

Candidate #1:

Intelligent, articulate, sound sales acumen and realistic expectations on what an inside sales role would be like for him.  Was open about needing to get up to speed on some of the technology that would be necessary for him to be successful and asked very good questions about the company.  Came well prepared, took notes, good energy, and appears detail oriented which is an absolute must for working at Mentis.  Next step in our process would be an interview with Jason and another member of our outsourced sales management team and will need his availability for next week.

Candidate #2:

Seemed distant, poor body language, and lacked enthusiasm.  He also seemed to not have done much diligence on researching our company or preparing questions that would give him a more insight into the position or general responsibilities.  His previous production numbers also seemed askew from what our expectations for the role would be, which I know I’ve shared with you.  When asked about how he would go about prospecting into smaller clients than at his last two positions, he replied by defining a market segment that was not in line with the market segment I had just explicitly defined.  Also, he was dressed in an unpressed button down shirt and slacks–no tie, no jacket.  While I would not find this an automatic disqualifier, combined with the other mitigating factors, I do not believe he will be a good fit at our organization.

These two guys that were relatively equal, I couldn’t  believe it! I helped each one of them exactly the same way. One of them obviously worked hard at preparing for the interview. The other one obviously didn’t. It’s really sad and a shame. The second guy’s skills were really good, but he certainly didn’t communicate that at all.

The lessons are hard to miss.  Dress properly and sell yourself the right way.

…courtesy

 

It’s a daily occurrence in our profession that people don’t call us back when we’ve been trying to help them. I’m not complaining about it, because I would’ve gotten out of this profession 48 years ago if it really bothered me that much. It’s sadder than it is anything else. And it’s kind of a shame that we treat each other that way.

The biggest issue regarding courtesy is hiring or interviewing authorities returning calls from candidates to let them know that they are no longer being considered for the position, or that someone else was hired, or nothing happened at all. This is probably one of the most frustrating, if not, the most frustrating experiences that, especially candidates, as well as hiring authorities (recruiters also), go through. Us recruiters get used to it and don’t take it personally. We realize that as Teilhard de Chardin writes, we’re all “spiritual beings acting human.”

I’m not trying to make excuses for this kind of lack of courtesy. But how much effort does it take for an interviewing or hiring authority to pick up the phone and, at least, leave a message that their call was appreciated, but the organization is going to go in another direction? It’s so very easy to do. It doesn’t take much of an investment, and certainly doesn’t take much time.

Ninety eight percent of the time interviewing or hiring authorities just plain don’t return calls or emails or texts to candidates they are not going to hire. I’ve never quite figured out why it’s so hard to do and why people don’t do it. The vast majority of the time, job seekers are already experiencing emotional distress. Looking for a job, even if you have one, is an emotional strain. And then to be “rejected” by simply being ignored is simply discourteous.

Interviewing and hiring authorities aren’t the only people that do this kind of thing. I can’t tell you the number of candidates that I’ve interviewed over the years, gotten them an interview within one or two days of when they visited with me, call them numerous times, only to have them never call me back (until, of course, they need me again). I realize that we are in the kind of business that when people need us, they really need us, and when they don’t, they just don’t. Okay, fine! But how hard is it to pick up the phone or write an email or text me and simply state that you don’t need me anymore. No problem.

This is more of an observation that it is a complaint. Complaining about this won’t do any good. I’m also convinced that making an observation about it isn’t going to change the fact that most people are going to continue to do what they do. I’m not sure that this lack of courtesy is intentional. In fact, if you ask most people, “do you like being rude?”, very few people would tell you that they do. And wouldn’t it be nice if we all did everything we were supposed to do. We are not talking about saving the whales here. We’re simply talking about courtesy of informing a hopeful job candidate who thinks he or she has done well on an interview and is being considered for a job that they are no longer in consideration. It doesn’t even need to be a phone call. It could be a text or an email. But simply ignoring people and not responding to them in any way, just is not very nice.

A number of years ago, I presented a candidate…a rather perfect candidate…  to a prospective employer. It was a vice presidency’s position and carried a $200,000 base salary. My candidate had been one of my clients and had lost his job due to a restructuring. VP jobs are not easy to find and he had been out of work for about three months. On paper, he was absolutely perfect for the job. When I presented him to the hiring Executive Vice President, he started laughing. He explained to me that he wouldn’t hire my candidate if he was the last candidate on earth. After a pregnant pause, he explained to me that a few years earlier, the roles were reversed. My client had been looking for a job, interviewed with the fellow who was now my candidate, and claimed that he had been totally ignored. The now hiring authority claimed he called my candidate numerous times, emailed him a few times and never heard anything from my candidate. According to the now hiring authority,  this took place after a seemingly splendid two-hour interview where the now Executive Vice President was told he was a “perfect” candidate and that he should expect to hear from my now, candidate’s company immediately. And then nothing!

I know that I don’t return every call to everyone who I work with… especially candidates.  But I try to make it clear to everyone that I work with in the beginning that I won’t be able to return every call. All it means is that I haven’t found them an interview. But I am sure that there are lots of candidates out there with whom I did not make that clear. For that, I apologize.

Again, getting upset about this kind of thing that goes on does not do any good. But if a gentle reminder to be courteous nudges just one person to return a call, this was worth writing.

…….lesson to all managers

I got this email today:

“Tony, hope all is well. Tonight, I participated in my company’s ‘Iclub.’ It was done virtually. What a joke. I got a $300 bonus.

I’ve always loved my company, and I’ve always loved what I’ve done. I have been bought in for the 23 years that I’ve been here. However, I have never felt less appreciated.

Given that and the fact that I know my comp has fallen far behind the market, it’s definitely time for me to see what’s out there.

Spiffing my resume up this weekend. Call you Monday.”

Thanks,

XXXXXX

It’s always been this way. The major reason that people leave the company is because they don’t feel appreciated. A little love goes a long way!

 

 

 

….why we are really here

Most people would answer the question of “Why are recruiters in the business?” with the idea that if you’re real good at it (and that’s pretty rare) that the person can probably make some really good money. Once in a while, you’ll find somebody that will give it a little more thought and come up with, “to help people.”

This week was really fun and gratifying. One of our newer recruiters, Amanda Martinez (been here right at a year) placed a lady in a human resources manager’s position. The lady was so thankful and joyous; she started crying with joy when she accepted the offer. Of course, that’s the first time that’s happened to Amanda and, I will admit, I don’t ever remember it happening before. The lady was so overjoyed at getting the job she thanked Amanda profusely.

The feeling this gave Amanda will last for as long as Amanda remembers the experience. The money will always come and go. It will go long before this feeling will ever end.

It is moments like this that is the real payoff in this business. That’s why we’re really here!

…advice

Not a week goes by that at least two or three candidates turn down excellent job opportunities because of “advice” from other people. Instead of using common sense, they convolute the decision making process by becoming phenomenally confused because they ask the opinions about what they should do from people who really have no idea what they’re talking about. They get so many opinions from so many people they get confused. Confusion leads to fear and fear leads to them doing nothing.

Advice about changing jobs or what kind of job you ought to take is like advice about marriage. Everyone who has ever been married thinks they know something about it. Many people don’t know their own marriage very well, let alone, someone else’s. Most people know very little about what kind of job might be available for someone else, but because they have looked for a job or found a job before they will give their advice as though it was absolute and global.

So, the first thing a job seeker ought to do is to limit the number of people they get job search advice from. The second thing is to be sure that the people they ask are credible. Do they know you? Do they know your industry or profession you are in well enough to give valuable advice. Your loved ones, spouses, family and your close friends may know you really well, but they may not know the perspective of the kind of business you are in. They may act like it, but most of the time they don’t. Heavily consider the qualifications of the people you seek advice from. Your mother may think that your the best oceanographer in the world, and you may be, but she has absolutely no idea of the prospects of you finding a job in Dallas, Texas… (Very poor… we don’t have any oceans here).

Feature this, your pastor or spiritual adviser may know a great deal about spiritual life and even your spiritual practices. But he or she may not know squat about the accounting profession, or sales or engineering. Your spouse loves you but doubtfully knows the landscape of your profession. They probably think… In fact I hope they do.. that you ought to be the president of the Western world. Let’s face it, they love you and want what’s best for you but they really don’t know how you might get that job.

I have found that even 60% of the advice about finding a job on the Internet isn’t incredible and some of it is flat out awful. I’ve written in other posts about some of the junk posted on the Internet written by people who have either found a job or two or hired a few people and then write about ideas that are absolutely foolish. Quick example: there are literally hundreds of articles on the net about how to apply for job by sending your resume to a company’s job posting. These authors teach people how to “customize” their resume to the posting, etc. Out of close to 100 articles I reviewed, not one of them…NOT one..explains that 30% of the job opportunities that are “posted” are not really open or that the odds of finding a job in this way are 1 in 375. 99% of the people writing these articles are authors, researchers, professors, HR professionals, ex-HR professionals etc., most of whom have, at best, a very narrow perspective…theirs..of what’s going on with the job market.

So, get advice from whomever you wish. But realize the perspective from where the advice comes from. Take it with a big chunk of salt and compare it to what you are experiencing. Unless the people you are getting advice from are in the trenches, helping people find jobs every day be careful.

 

…..”we are recinding the offer!”

I don’t think I’ve had this happen five or 10 times in 49 years. And looking back on it, it’s usually for crazy reasons. Like a company being sold, a total change in management or poor references after an offer has been made. But, this one takes the cake. And there are lessons all over the place.

This was the vice presidency’s position, for $400,000. My client had been interviewing for six weeks and finally settled on an excellent person. On Thursday, the human resources director calls the candidate and makes the final offer. The candidate says that it looks fine but he’s giving up a lot of stock where he is presently working and he would like our client to make it up. The human resources director gets together with the executive VP, who talks to the CEO and, amazingly enough, they come up with something that, he says, will make him happy.

He then tells the human resources director that he has to talk it over with his wife (mistake number one: he refers to his wife as “the boss.”). He says he can’t make any decision until he talks it over with, “the boss.” He also explains that he has to go out of town Friday and over the weekend to a sports tournament with one of his children, and he may not be able to talk to his wife until Monday. He then calls back the human resources director and explains that he has a golf tournament on Monday and he may not be able to speak to his wife (“the boss”) until late Monday.

He didn’t communicate correctly or the human resources director didn’t understand it, but she communicated to the Executive Vice President that the candidate was playing golf all weekend on Monday and wasn’t going to be able to give them a decision until Monday evening. The candidate claims that he made it clear to the human resources director that the weekend was devoted to one of his kids, out-of-town tournaments and that he and his company were actually hosting a golf tournament on Monday. It was work.

When Monday rolled around, the Executive Vice President was furious. First of all, he couldn’t believe that the candidate kept referring to his wife as, “the boss.” There was a slight miscommunication between the HR director and the executive VP. The executive VP was under the impression that our candidate was playing golf all weekend, as well as on Monday. Our candidate thought that since he had explained the situation to the HR director about going out of town for the weekend with one of his kids athletic events and being a sponsor for a golf tournament on Monday, it would get communicated to the executive VP in just that way. Well, it didn’t.

The executive VP couldn’t imagine why the candidate couldn’t talk to his wife (“the boss” still rankled him) and let them know Monday at the latest. The executive VP just plain old had it with being postponed. He had gone to the CEO and gotten more stock than they originally offered. And when he felt like the candidate had better things to do than decide about the job, he figured there ought to be a candidate available who would be more grateful and committed.  We started the search all over.

This is one of the saddest situations I’ve experienced in many years. My candidate missed a phenomenal opportunity. I found the company another really great candidate, so it worked out well for my other candidate and the executive VP.

I’m really sorry for my first candidate. I don’t mind if the candidate loses out on an opportunity for really good business reasons. But this wasn’t one of those situations. I take responsibility here for not encouraging my original candidate to let my client know on Friday, the day after he got the offer.

P. S. Don’t refer to your spouse as “the boss.”

……no story…no job

“Well Tony, three of us were interviewing him and we asked him if he could give us an example of where he put together a deal and how he did it from scratch. We thought he was going to start an example of what he had done in the past and all he did was talk in circles for five minutes. Then one of us asked him, “Just give us an example of where you’ve been successful. And after a long pause, he said, Let me think about it a minute.”

That pretty much ended the interview and my candidate’s opportunity to get hired. He didn’t have a story of where he’d been successful. Ironically, he had lots of successes in his background, but he just hadn’t practiced them for the interviewing situation.

This is a short lesson. It’s really a sad lesson. It doesn’t matter what kind of position you are interviewing for, you’ve got to have stories of where you’ve been successful. If you’re a candidate, you only need two or three of them. But you have to have them. This guy lost a job at a $150,000 base salary with an absolutely phenomenal company.

I had given him access to “the job search solution,” our 60 hour tutorial on finding a job which has a whole section on how to tell stories. But, unfortunately, he said he just didn’t have time to do it. And, besides, “I’m really good at interviewing.” Famous last words…

A wise man learns by mistakes, the wiser person learns by others mistakes. Please, please, please, if you’re a candidate looking for a job, you better have some really good stories as to how you’ve been successful.