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.