Author Archives: tonybeshara

….take any interview you can

I referred one of my candidates to a company…he knew the V.P. of sales, the guy he was supposed to interview with…they had worked together before..

My candidate didn’t like the guy and told me he really didn’t want to go on the interview. After downright cajoling him, I got him to go. ”You never know what might happen,” I said.

Well, he got to the interview and the V.P. marched him into the CEO’s office and the CEO started interviewing my candidate for a position they had just thought about creating.

It was on the same level as the V.P.’s job.

You never know about what kind of position you might be interviewing for…go on every interview you can..

…okay, so sometimes people do stupid stuff, but…

This week I had a potential VP candidate interview with a new CEO of a small IT consulting firm. The candidate had built two companies just like this from zero to many millions of dollars. Now I admit that it was a bit of a personality mismatch. The CEO is as much of an analytical person as you could ever imagine. Obviously, being new on-the-job, he was going to be extremely careful about who he hired to help build the firm for the owners.

The candidate was about as much of a driver, “I can do anything… Just let me at them” kind of guy – very gregarious and outgoing. Not picking up very well that the CEO he was interviewing with was extremely analytical, our candidate made some rather broad statements without specific, analytical answers. For instance, when the CEO asked him, “How would you train a young and relatively new salesperson?” The candidate answered, “Well, I tell them to just get in my car and I’ll go show them how we do it!” Not very specific and probably the last thing an analytical hiring person wants to hear.

They spent three hours together and there was no doubt the candidate has the ability to do the job. To make matters even more challenging, when the candidate sent a thank you note, he misspelled the name of the company, had two other misspellings in the email and a couple of awkward grammatical errors. Ow!!!!

Well, of course in getting feedback from the CEO those were the things that he mentioned. He even said, “I would expect a VP to have a specific, systematic formula and instructions for new salespeople.” And, along with that, “Am I going to have to check the emails that this guy sends?” “If I need to do that, I can do the job myself and I don’t need to hire him.”

The sadness to this whole thing is that the candidate had prepared a “stack” of slides and presentations about how he had built the two firms that he had built before along with workbooks and notebooks of exactly how to train salespeople. He had all of these in absolute detail. He says that he asked the CEO if the CEO would like to look at them and he understood the CEO to say, “Not at this time.”

Now, it’s easy to say that the candidate should or could get written off for, first, not reading the CEO properly, not leaving the documents with the CEO proving exactly how he would go about building the company and, of course, a poorly written email.

The CEO told me that he really hasn’t said, “no” just yet. But, it bothers him that the candidate gave a “shotgun” answer to what the CEO considered to be a very specific question and, of course, the lousy email. One certainly can’t blame the CEO for having trepidations. The candidate should have read the guy better, gone into specific details about how he hires, trains and manages salespeople and then insisted upon leaving the in-depth information about how he built the last company he grew.

The lesson here is simple but extremely important. Hiring authorities make decisions about hiring people often times on very little information. But, what else do they have to go by? They make decisions about candidates by how they interview, what they say in an interview and what they might write to the hiring authority after the interview. You can’t blame a hiring authority for judging everything about a candidate on the few things they might experience. Yeah, it’s unfair. But, life is unfair.

The candidate did send to the CEO the whole “stack” of information about his success and how he has been successful before. The CEO has agreed to review it.. I reviewed the information and it is stellar. This candidate really knows what he’s doing and he’s got the documentation to prove it.

Okay, so, some people just do stupid stuff. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t good at what they do. Hopefully, the CEO will reconsider the candidate based on the candidate’s past performance. But, the candidate as an uphill battle. He’s going to have to overcome some real concerns.

…..when you are interviewing for a position when the last one, two or three people (or more) have failed

…or they are no longer there for one reason or another. This is a relatively extreme example but it demonstrates problems that hiring authorities and companies create for themselves… and therefore create for a candidate.

Almost two years ago one of our clients hired a first line manager whose job was to help the second line manager mentor a number of salespeople. Part of the position’s responsibility was to sell but also help 15 to 16 sales reps (mostly junior) through their sales process. Unfortunately, the first guy they hired left after about seven months ostensibly because he couldn’t get along with the guy he reported to, who was not the second line manager, but the second line manager’s boss.

Three or four months later after interviewing eight or nine candidates, they hired a second guy. His background and experience was pretty perfect and he was a good hire. Unfortunately, he shared some information about his company…physical documents…with a friend of his at another company. Somehow, it got out that he shared this information and his company considered it proprietary information, claimed that he violated company policy and let him go. He is actually a really good guy and what he did really, by most standards, wasn’t any big deal. The information you shared was not top-secret, -“how we built the atom bomb and plan to use it” type of stuff. It was really pretty benign. But enough people found out about the incident so the company felt like they needed to fire the guy to make an example.

So, they start looking for another person. But keep in mind over the past almost a year that all of this had been going on. They probably interviewed 15 to 20 qualified candidates. What they look for is pretty hard to find although it’s a really good job with a really good company. So, once they started over there were already a number of people they had eliminated and there was a slim number of qualified candidates to continue pursuing.

Now, nobody ever admit to this, but having done this for so long, I  am absolutely certain that the vice president in charge of this whole thing feels like he is under a microscope. This is an unfortunate situation that happens more often than people even imagine. When anybody, VP, CEO, warehouse manager, maintenance manager… any manager of a group of people hires two people that don’t work out back to back they rapidly think, and often correctly, that he or she is being watched very carefully. Someone they report to who reports to someone else who reports to someone else are all wondering, “what’s wrong with this manager…  she or he hires doofuses; therefore, they must be a doofus.”

The truth is that this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s mostly just plain bad luck. But it is just plain too easy to “blame,” in this case, the vice president. So, he or she thinks to themselves, “I really don’t want to make a mistake. I really want to be careful about the next person that I hire. I can’t afford to hire the wrong person and… (look like a doofus).

So, what happens? The interviewing process gets longer and gets harder. The company interviews candidates ad infinitum. In this case it’s taken almost 18 months and at least 30 candidates. Twice in that period of time the company found two really good candidates, but they were so careful to not make a mistake they put them through six or seven interviews over a period of four or five weeks, but lost both candidates to other companies who moved faster. One candidate they offered the job to after six weeks of interviewing got hired by one of their competitors the day they made him the offer. The competitor the candidate went to work for initially interviewed the candidate on a Monday and hired him that Friday. They did it in four days!

The longer this kind of thing goes on, the more difficult it is for the vice president. He is really not to “blame.” He is simply acting the way any normal human being would. The longer this whole thing goes on, the more he has to worry about how he appears to the rest of the company. He is probably way too self-conscious about the whole mess, but it’s simply human nature.

We are still interviewing. Some recruiters would just drop this whole thing and figure it’s just not worth it and they should simply cut their losses of investment of time and effort and move on to someone who is in a rational position to make a decent decision. The client is really not hard to work for, they’ve just gotten themselves in such a psychological ditch and created their own problem. Forty seven years ago I worked in higher education and it was there, I heard this statement that, “not to decide is to decide.” One of the reasons that I left higher education is it’s run by committees. Committees can’t much decide anything. (You know what a camel is, don’t you? It’s a horse gone to committee).

Eventually the pain of needing someone in this position will overcome the emotional and psychological strain of the risk in hiring someone for it.

If you are a candidate interviewing in a situation even similar to this and you find out that the last two (or three or four) hires have not worked out very well, be ready for the gauntlet… be ready to try to be Mr. or Ms. Perfect. I know it’s not fair, but life isn’t fair. Just be ready for it.

 

….”daddy, why do you keep repeating the same thing?”

I was probably about 10 years old. Looking back I was probably pretty hardheaded and, also looking back, my dad was probably a lot more patient than I thought at the time.

He said, “Well, when you get the message and start doing things right, I’ll quit repeating!” And then we went back to what we were doing. I don’t really remember what it was, but looking back, I remember him saying that a number of times.

I was reminded of it this week when we had yet another search that took almost 8 weeks to complete, began all over again because our client simply just took too long to make a decision.

What happened was real simple; it was just real painful. Two months ago our client interviewed three really spectacular senior consulting salespeople to lead a national practice. After initially interviewing the three, he decided to pursue one. They told us that it would take at least two weeks for them to let him interview with the five people they needed to speak with. We explained to the client that two weeks was a very long time in this market and they would run a real big risk of losing the candidate. In a rather superior, egotistical tone the vice president told us, “Well, that’s what we have to do. If it takes two weeks, it takes two weeks!” Well, it took 2 1/2 weeks for five people to interview this guy. (It was so very important that five people talk to this guy because it was such an important position… Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)

The five people interviewed the guy and he got a thumbs-up from everybody, which we knew he would because he was absolutely stellar. They went to make him an offer and all of a sudden, out of the blue a group of people that he had spoken to two years ago had called him up, “interviewed him,” and hired him.

Our client just couldn’t believe that the guy took another job. They were downright mad. So, we started again. The first candidate was kind enough to refer another candidate to us. We immediately referred her to the client. The VP liked her and wanted to put her through “the paces.” This time we asked if there was any way that we could shorten the time that it would take to do the interviewing and cut the number of people down because “time kills deals.” He stated in a very egotistical way that that wasn’t possible, that they’ll see what they can do about shortening it. They got through the process with the candidate and just as they were ready to do something with our candidate another candidate that they found on their own magically appeared. On paper the candidate looked better and the company decided to tell our candidate that they were pursuing another candidate and that if they had a chance to hire this come lately candidate, they would. Our candidate was disappointed, but there wasn’t much that she could do about it

Of course their process took another two weeks. We had pretty much written the thing off, but then got a call from the VP to say that their  stellar candidate had decided to stay where he was and wanted to  call our last candidate and offer her the job. Our candidate, whose feelings were hurt, had meanwhile been interviewing at other places. Our sense is that she told our client that she would be interested in an offer as payback for not hiring her to begin with. The reason I say that is because it took our client two or three days to put the offer in writing and when she got it she turned it down. She even wrote them that, “I was very interested in going to work for you, but when you told me that I was in second place to another candidate after I had spent a lot of time and effort interviewing with you and pretty much felt like you had told me I would be hired, I kept interviewing and I decided to take another position. Good luck! I suggest in the future that you don’t lead people on.”

That was probably a bit of a rude thing to write, because she may run into these people again somewhere down the line, but she has a point. Eight weeks later, our client is back to square one. They took too long. They had too many people involved in the process and their egos got in the way.

Like daddy said, “I’ll keep repeating the lesson until you learn it.”

 

 

….resume killers

This may seem minor to a lot of people, but it kills the chances of your resume being considered. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a lot of the dumb things people do on their resume that cause them to get eliminated. I forgot this one.

What brought this to mind was that, this week, I got a resume from a pretty good candidate who highlighted the fact that since 2013, in addition to his full time job, he had been a real estate investor “on the side”. He stated the fact that this “business” never interfered with his “day job.” He argued with me when I told him that he needed to get that off of his resume. He thought that by having that on there, he showed “entrepreneurial” skills.

It was like pulling teeth to explain to him that a hiring authority looks at something like this as though the potential employee has a “business on the side.” And if the potential employee was going to protect his own money or the money of the company, it was likely that he was going to protect his own money first and the money of his company second.

We’ve mentioned this before, but as a candidate, you have to remember that people are looking for just as many reasons not to hire you as they are reasons to hire you. And it if looks like you’re going to be devoting time to your real estate or rental properties, that will take precedence over their interests if they were to hire you. The guy kept saying, “But I do that on my own time… nights and weekends and it’s really none of their business.” Then why put it on your resume?

I can’t drive this message more strongly. On average, an interviewing or hiring authority is reviewing 100 to 150 resumes for every job posting. They don’t like doing it. In fact, they absolutely despise it. They postpone it and drag it on because hiring is a big risk and it’s much easier to do their major function of accounting, sales management, engineering management, IT management, etc. The last thing most managers want to do is to look at resumes, interview and hire someone who might turn out to be a dud. So, as they look at resumes they don’t think “Why should I hire this person?” They think, “Why shouldn’t I interview and hire this person?”

They are looking for reasons to eliminate candidates. It could be too many jobs, being too long at the same place, having the wrong kind of a degree, not having a degree, no clear explanation about what the candidate has done in his previous jobs or is doing now. It could be tons of different things.

So, in writing your resume, look at it from a critical point of view. Ask yourself, “Am I giving a potential interviewer or hiring authority reasons that they should not consider me? What you think might make you a star, might eliminate you. Once in a while I hear someone say to me, “But if they just knew me, they would know that……..” You can fill in the blank. But the point is they don’t know you and the only reason they would need to know you is because they have to fill a position. “They don’t want to make a mistake! They don’t want to make a mistake! They don’t want to make a mistake! They don’t want to make a mistake! They don’t want to make a mistake!

Keep it simple and to the point. Here is where I have performed well in the past; therefore, I will perform well for you. That’s it!

 

 

 

….it was the best of times …it was the worst of times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….Charles Dickens

Our candidate was unquestionably an “A player.” He had been a winner at every place he had ever been and was looking to leave his organization for very good reasons. He was ideal for one of our clients who had, in the past, been able to attract “A players.” When we called our client, the hiring authority reminded us that it now took at least three weeks to hire anyone, no matter how good the candidate was. We knew this, because the client had already lost two candidates. One of them got halfway through their process and got another offer and the second one simply said that he was not interested in going through five different interviews as well as making a presentation to a group of people (which was part of the process). His rationale was, “I’ve been successful at what I’ve been doing for 20 years, and it makes no sense for me to make a presentation to a group of people.”

We had informed our new candidate about the process of the company in the beginning. The first two interviews with the candidate took place within three days, via zoom. The third person who he was supposed to interview with, however, was out of the country on business and wasn’t going to be back for another week. So, now we were set back a week. After getting back into the country, the third person involved in the interviewing process couldn’t get around to speaking to the candidate until after he had been back for four days. We are now three weeks into the process. Unfortunately, this interviewing authority even made the comment to the candidate that he didn’t feel like he was that important to the interview process and that they could have moved on to the next phase of the process without him. Of course, that made the candidate feel really warm and fuzzy.

The next step was for the candidate to have zoom meetings with a number of people in the California corporate office. He was also instructed that, at that time, he would make a presentation to a group of managers and this was part of the process for everyone who got hired. Of course, and unfortunately, it was going to be another week before all of the “leadership team” in corporate was going to be around at the same time. So, by the time the candidate gets to the corporate “meetings,” we are into our fifth week. He does well with the corporate zooms and everybody tells him they’re going give him a “thumbs up.”

On Friday of the fifth week of this process, the immediate hiring authority tells him that they’ll reach out to him on Monday and they would really like to hire him and they’d like to put together an offer. Wednesday of the sixth week rolls along and the candidate still hasn’t heard from the hiring authority. The hiring authority was traveling and very busy. Meanwhile, our candidate is obviously getting frustrated and irritated with the whole process.

That Wednesday, a new client, who had been referred to us, called in and asked us to search for an “A player” in Dallas for them. When we informed them of the candidate’s availability, they suggested a zoom conversation the next day. The regional vice president talked to the candidate that Thursday and the executive vice president flew in to interview the candidate that Friday. By Monday our client had lined up a third interview with another regional vice president. The candidate requested to be able to speak with two or three of the employees which took place that Tuesday. The next day, we checked the candidate’s references and by Thursday… one week after they initially interviewed the candidate… the hiring company made a job offer.

The hiring authority of our first client finally reached out to our candidate by Friday of that sixth week, explaining that he’s just been really busy traveling, etc. and that they are still intending to make an offer. Monday of the seventh week rolls around and our first client’s HR Department insists on checking the references. We explained that we had just checked his references and we’d be more than happy to pass them along, but they insisted that they had to do it. Unfortunately the person that checks references wasn’t going to be in until Wednesday.

We explained to the hiring authority of the first client that the candidate was fast tracking with another organization. He informs us that “their process is their process.” So, the HR department checks the references on Wednesday and the next day, Thursday of the seventh week, they offer our candidate a job.

The offers really weren’t much different. And the quality of the organizations may not have been much different. However, our second client just looked so much better to our candidate. It appeared that hiring was a high priority. They made our candidate feel like he was joining a first-class, decisive organization. They interviewed him three times in four days, via Zoom. Knowing he was being courted by another firm, two V.P.’s and an Executive V.P. called the guy. They really let him know that he was a very high priority. They discussed the future he might have and simply asked him, “What is it going to take to get you to come to work here? Within reason, we’ll do it!” They simply made the guy feel great about going to work there. He went to work for our second client. The first client is still searching and if they keep doing it the way they are, they’ll be doing it for a long time.

It was the best of times for our second client because they got an “A player.” It was the worst of times for our first client. They even got mad at the candidate because they felt like he had strung them along.

Oh, brother…certainly the age of foolishness.

 

…notice to employers…you’re taking too long…you’re losing good candidates

It happens after every recession. This is my eighth one since 1973 and here’s how it happens. When candidates are plentiful and companies are operating in a recession and operating out of fear of loss, rather than vision of gain, hiring managers invent all kinds of cockamamie “steps” in the hiring process, thinking that it’s going to keep them from “making a hiring mistake”, because they feel like they have lots of candidates to choose from and because they want to spread the risk.  They invent steps in the process, thinking that it’s going to protect them. They increase the number of interviews that a candidate has to go through. They come up with ideas like: group interviews (with half of the group comprised of people who have nothing to do with the job) testing of all sorts, interviews with external, company advisors, group presentations (just to be sure the candidate can speak in front of a group). One CEO of a small size firm wanted to get his wife’s and daughter’s opinion of a candidate (of course, they had absolutely nothing to do with the day-to-day running of the business). Years ago, a candidate and his wife were asked to go to dinner with the chairman of a bank, his wife, three of the vice presidents and their wives. After the dinner, the men asked their wives to literally vote on whether or not to hire the candidate. My candidate “lost” the election. To this day he swears it was because his wife was a whole lot more attractive than any of the other wives and the other wives just plain didn’t like it. Who knows?

Just this last month, a company  requiring our candidate  to go through a process of  having six interviews, held over a number of days get, saw its candidate hired by one of their direct competitors that initially interviewed the candidate one day with two follow-up  zoom interviews the next day and the final zoom interview the next business day and an offer… and acceptance… were made on the day after. Our client was absolutely furious from having lost out on the candidate and was exasperated,  saying, “we just can’t move that fast.”

Another one of our candidates refused to give a presentation to a group who required it is part of the interviewing process. She said, “Look, I’ve got a job that requires a lot of effort. We have three teenagers and when I’m not working, I’m parenting. I have a 20 year excellent track record in what I do, and these guys want me to make a presentation to see if I know how to make a presentation? Forget them!” It was painful, but she has a point. She has an outstanding, extremely verifiable, track record that speaks for itself. The management of the company was so myopically stuck on a procedural formality in the hiring process that it lost track of the whole reason they were speaking with her which was because she was so well known in their profession as a top performer. (She had been kicking their butt in the marketplace.)

In another situation after three interviews, our candidate was told that he had to take one more “perfunctory” interview with someone with Human Resources at the corporate office.  Unfortunately, the Human Resources Director was off for spring break. The hiring authority was caught up in his own bureaucratic red tape, saying he really didn’t have any choice but to wait. The candidate accepted another offer before the perfunctory interview could be arranged, causing the company to lose out on an excellent candidate.

All the old adages apply… time kills deals…. when you snooze, you lose, etc. The message is that this market has gotten a lot more competitive for good candidates. Whenever we come out of a recession, it usually takes about six months for hiring authorities in companies to catch on that when they drag interviewing out they are going to lose really good candidates.

Other than C-level candidates, which might be an exception, there should never be more than three, at the most, four interviews for any candidate. Nobody should be involved in the interviewing process whose livelihood doesn’t depend on the performance of the individual being interviewed.  Studies have shown that one person… yes, you read right… one person doing the hiring is no more successful than three, four or sixteen people involved in the  interviewing and hiring  process.

The company that is requiring the candidate to make a presentation instituted a new policy a few months ago requiring a candidate to study what their company does… which would take at least three or four hours… and then make a presentation to three or four executives on the benefits of their company and their product. It is doubtful that any candidate who is presently employed is going to consider doing it. This is especially true for candidates with  good track records. If they lose enough candidates to this process, they will eventually change their procedure. There’s no telling, however, how many good candidates they are going to miss.

It’s kinda sad!

 

 

….I hate spring break!

It happens every year. It’s a rather unbelievable phenomenon and you’d think after more than 47 years of doing this, I’d be used to, as Teilhard de Chardin writes, people are “spiritual beings acting human.”

The “acting human” aspect of this is that more times than I’d like to think about it, candidates missed the opportunity to interview and employers missed the opportunity to interview good candidates because of….spring break! It absolutely drives me nuts. It happened three times last week. The first time, was with a CEO candidate…yes, a CEO who has  been out of work for six months had the opportunity to interview for a job as a CEO, in his profession, the only interview he’s been able to secure in three months…and  he tells me that he can’t go on the interview because he’s going skiing in Colorado for spring break.  “What?…You are going on spring break… spring break. I’ve gotten you the only interview you’ve had in three months and you can’t go because you’re going on spring break????” “Well, I guess I could come back I have to,” he says with a terribly unconvincing, low tone.

The private equity group who was doing the hiring interviewed two other of our candidates and is going to pursue both of them. If one of them does not pan out, they may very well consider the CEO who went skiing.

One of our hiring authorities, (I hate to call them “clients,” because it connotes a much higher business acumen than most deserve)  interviews four excellent candidates  last week and tells us she loves all of the candidates and is going to have them back and will decide to hire one… after she gets back from spring break next week.  “Geez… we aren’t sure that they’re going to be around when you get back,” we tell her. “Well, you came up with those four. You guys are good. I’m sure you can find three or four more,” she says. It is possible that these candidates will still be around when she gets back. But two candidates  she is now focused on are excellent and, fortunately, we’ve been able to get them a number of interviews.

We make it look easy to come up with really good candidates. Well, that is what we are supposed to do. But, it isn’t that easy. This market has bounced ridiculously high in the last two months and all of a sudden, candidates are harder and harder to find. Based on what this lady is looking for, it won’t be easy to find others. “Can’t you do a Skype or a zoom meeting with them, while you were on vacation?” we ask. “No, where we’re going hardly has any Internet capability. It’s just gonna have to wait till I get back.” Well, okay, not much we can do.

The third situation involved a hiring authority, whose corporate policy was to have one of their corporate leaders interview his final candidate for a director’s position. The candidate has made it very clear, in a well-balanced tone, that he is receiving two other offers. We asked the hiring authority if his corporate superior could interview the candidate via Skype or zoom while on vacation next week. The answer came back, “no.” The corporate manager was not interested in interviewing anyone while he was on spring break. The candidate says that he is willing to wait. What choice does he have? But, human nature, being what it is, we won’t be surprised if next week, our candidate gets another offer from one or two of these other organizations (neither one of which we are representing). It wouldn’t surprise us at all if he took one of them because he’s tired of looking for a job and he’s really good. “A bird in the hand.”

This kind of thing happens every year and it’s very frustrating. When I was growing up the idea of “spring break,” was simply one day, Good Friday, and my brother and I would go to our father’s laundry and work. I don’t think I ever heard of spring break until our kids were in high school.

I don’t have a problem with anybody wanting to take a vacation. But when you’ve been looking for a job for three or four months and you get the chance to interview and you decide to go on spring break instead, I wonder about your values. When anyone’s spring break is more important than hiring the right kind of candidate, we’ve got our values out of sync.

I hate spring break!

….how to negotiate yourself out of a job

Joseph is an excellent candidate. He has had 10 years at the same organization, performed very well, has accolades and paychecks to prove he has been successful in sales. His company however, has not been giving him the technical support that his customers have been used to receiving and gradually he’s losing his share of the market. So, he decides he needs to change jobs.

He has been earning in the $200,000-$300,000 range for the past five or six years, so finding him an opportunity much outside the type of business he has been in is fairly unlikely. Obviously, he has some exceptional advantages to competitors and since he has no non-compete agreement (except for a handful of present customers) he is very marketable.

There are five or six major players in the space that he has been in and we contacted all of them. Three told us that they just do not have any need at all right now and don’t see anything coming up in the next two or three quarters. Three people agreed to interview Joseph. One  made it clear that he wasn’t looking to hire anybody probably for another four or five months and that Joseph should not get his hopes up, but he was always interested in interviewing a good candidate (smart guy). The other two that agreed to interview Joseph were actively looking only if the “right person” came along.

We explained to Joseph, to begin with, that we make this process look easy, because we are supposed to. We explained to him that even though he knows he has a good background, he should not let it go to his head and that we happen to catch these people at the right time. When a candidate has been in any one place this long and experienced the kind of success Joseph has, there is often a tendency for it to go to their head. They think they are more marketable and desirable than they really are. Most of the time, this is more an issue of ignorance rather than stupidity. They don’t go out into the market looking for a job very often…hardly at all and when they do, and they all of a sudden get two or three interviews, they have a tendency to think that finding a new job is easy.

Of course, we warned Joseph of this and thought it was clear. When we started the interviewing process with these three organizations, Joseph was always very difficult to get on the phone (our first clue).  We would call him…he would never directly answer…we’d leave a message and he would call maybe a day or so later. When we went to arrange interviews, even after giving us the times he could do them, he would inevitably ask to change the times (he did this all three times).

The organization that really didn’t need to hire anybody who was interested in speaking with Joseph, interviewed him, but didn’t care for him at all. They thought he was arrogant and full of himself. We had warned  Joseph about this to begin with, but apparently it took a “rejection” for him to catch on. Joseph eliminated the second organization because he really didn’t like the territory that they had in mind for him. But Joseph did aggressively pursue our third client.

He began by telling them after an initial interview, that he was very interested in the opportunity and would definitely like to pursue it. He communicated that it was a better opportunity than where he was and he was “ready to go.” When it came time for Joseph to interview with the next level of management, he had to… for business reasons, according to him…postpone the interviews. This took almost two weeks to complete. When he got to the next level of interviews he sold himself really well and made it clear that he would “entertain” an offer. He was telling us that he really liked what he saw and he really wanted to go to work at the organization because it was a better deal than what he had.

Then Joseph got a little more flaky. The company wanted to check references. It took him a whole week to get the references to them. They were beginning to wonder about Joseph’s sincerity, but he convinced them that he traveled so much that it was hard for him to reach out to his references. They asked for a formal application, which they sent to him online and it took him three days to get it back to them.

Even though they had discussed compensation and territory, when it came to us asking Joe that, since it looked like they were going to make him an offer, he stated that, “Well, let’s see the offer in writing.” We then began to tell the hiring authority that we were getting a little nervous about this. Joseph let us all to believe that he had every intention of taking the job but when details started coming along he got squishy.

Our hiring authority explained that her upper management really liked the guy and felt like he could do a lot for the company and they were going to go through with the offer as discussed. Even she was beginning to get negative feelings about the whole thing because when she had to call the candidate, at his request, to discuss a number of things he wanted to talk about, he became real hard to get. As before, he would never pick up the phone when he was called and more often than not called back a day later.

The hiring authority explained very clearly that these offer letters were signed by the CEO and the company did not normally change anything in them. Before Joseph even got the offer letter he started asking me about their flexibility on a number of things. I called the hiring authority about them, reinforcing again that we were getting less and less confident in the candidate.

By this time, the company sent the written offer and Joseph started dissecting it. At this point, he told me that he wanted to do the deal but he wanted a number of things changed. I explained to him that it had come to the point where he was going to have to speak to the hiring authority himself and that the company was getting a little fed up with his negotiation style. His comment was, “well, that’s negotiations.” The hiring authority tried to reach out to Joseph two more times. He didn’t return her calls.

Joseph did call me and implied that if they could change just a couple of things he’d probably do the deal. I told him that he would have to speak to the hiring authority, but all of us were getting very dubious of his intentions. I suggested that they meet face-to-face. Joseph said that he couldn’t meet until a particular day. I passed that along to the hiring authority. He said he could meet at any time that day. I picked the time that was good for the hiring authority and when I passed it along to him…guess what? He writes back and says that he can’t do that particular time.

At this point, the hiring authority is pissed off. Although she said it’s going to be a little embarrassing to explain to her higher-ups that Joseph won’t be joining, she couldn’t imagine working with someone this way.

The offer was verbally rescinded through me. The candidate called the hiring authority and left a rather weak message that it probably would not have worked out anyhow.

Even if the candidate didn’t want to do this deal and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t, he shouldn’t have “managed” the process this way. He certainly closed the door for this organization for the future.

This is a great lesson of how not to negotiate.

…more about taking tests

Well, just this week we had a wonderful candidate get rejected for a position because he blew the test. I’ll tell you what happened after we discuss how to take tests. Unfortunately he just didn’t listen to our teaching.

First, whatever you do, don’t bitch and moan to the prospective employer that testing is a lot of nonsense. In some cases, it very well is, but if a prospective employer does it as a routine part of the selection process, your opinion isn’t going to matter. If you voice your negative opinion too much, you’ll be eliminated for that reason alone. So, just decide to take the test in stride and resolve to do the very best you can. And, don’t say something stupid like, “Oh, my God, I’m absolutely awful when it comes to test.” This may be true, but for goodness sake, don’t tell that to a prospective employer.

Second, before you take the test, get lots of rest, eat a good meal, and relax. Do the very best you can. Look at it as a challenge. Take it in stride. Trying to prepare for a test is hard, but there is a bit of salvation. Find out what kind of test you are going to be taking. Is it an intelligence test, a personality test, etc.? You might even be able to get the name of the test before you take it. This can be valuable because if it is a test that you might be able to find online, you can practice taking it. For instance, the Wonderlic test is used to measure how quickly a person thinks. A person can buy the test online and take it….as many times as they want. It’s one of those kinds of tests where the score can be improved upon rather drastically with practice. Certain types of sales personality tests can be mastered by doing the same thing. So, if you find out about the testing early enough and find out what kind of test it is going to be, you may very well be able to improve your score by practicing.

If the test is either paper and pencil or taken online do not be over analytical and agonize over each answer, nor be flippant about the answers that you give. Be thoughtful in your answers and above all be consistent in your answers. Don’t try to read into every question what the interviewer is trying to get at. That is a losing proposition.

Whatever you do, do not try to outguess the test! Don’t sit there and ask yourself, “What are they trying to find out when they asked that question? Because if they’re trying to find out ‘that’ then I will answer ‘this” so they will think ‘that’ when I answer ‘this’ so they will think ‘that’ of me,” you’re finished. Every one of these kinds of tests ask the same question in three or four different ways. No one is good enough to outguess them. Besides when people try to outguess the test their scores are usually so goofy they invalidate the whole thing. You’re finished!

If you have to do any kind of testing at all, practice if you can and relax …take it in stride.