For years now, I have provided unsolicited advice to candidates in preparation for their interviews with clients. I urge them to do their homework before their scheduled meetings, to conduct research and analysis on the organization in question, its competitors and markets. I remind them that the interview is a ‘buy-sell’ interaction in which they are both a seller of skills and experience as well as a buyer of a job and company. As a buyer they should be discerning and ask questions. In my experience, he or she who asks the best questions will not only make the best impression but the best decision. Alas, I would venture that 7 out of 10 people ignore my advice preferring instead to show up to their interviews equipped to do little more than answer questions.
This past week I witnessed two, not one but two, occasions where a client commented on a candidate’s outstanding interview preparation. In both instances, the candidates prepared PowerPoint presentations which they introduced into the discussion. In one instance, a candidate for a GM position did a full SWOT analysis of the client organization and proceeded to articulate his views on how, if so entrusted, he would take the company forward. The other individual, who was interviewing for a senior operations role, provided an overview of best practices across the industry and how she had systematically delivered operational excellence in her current and previous employers. While she did not presume to yet know the exact state of the client’s operations (it was a first interview) she nonetheless cleverly demonstrated what the path to excellence would look like under her leadership. It was well considered and comprehensive. Both candidates, showing initiative and analytical capabilities, propelled their candidacies forward significantly with their efforts.
As I reflected on how infrequently I see such effort, it occurred to me that perhaps the pandemic provided additional time at home by which to prepare in a manner these candidates could not have beforehand. Perhaps it is time rather than desire which is the limiting factor. If that is the case hopefully more people will start to make similar investments for better outcomes.
Whatever contributed to this unusual confluence of events, you can bet that I will remain insufferable with my unsolicited advice.
About the Author
Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.
Contact Robert by email at [email protected] or call (1) 416-365-9494 Ext. 777