Once, I had to interview a guy yesterday for a Client Support Manager position that could grow into a director level. This position is critical to the company that I work for, since the incumbent will be establishing the department, defining the processes and work flow, and creating an approach that’s easily repeatable. I was impressed by this guy’s resume. I knew how I was going to handle the interview. I’d give him a couple of behavioral questions to see how he would do stuff, and then try to figure out if he had what it takes to make it in our company.
Attitude is Everything
Right from the start, I was uncomfortable with this guy’s attitude. He wasn’t cocky, nearly arrogant. He was in his second round of interviews with us. After a couple of behavioral questions, like how would he approach his first 90 or 100 days, I didn’t hear anything that demonstrated he could do the job.
I wound up laying the groundwork, finally decided that I needed to start poking holes in him and quickly went in to humble him. I started with, “This position would be doing what I did when I first start my job. I specialize in creating new departments and defining positions while being strategic but also taking care of the day-to-day demands. What would you 100-day plan look like with the appropriate deliverables? I’m excluding stakeholders that you’ve already mentioned that you would meet with.”
Poking at the Job Candidate
Silence. I caught him off-guard. I paused, waited for him, then I quickly continued by outlining in detail what I did in my first 100-days and what our CEO now demands from new hires. “So, any thoughts on what you’d do?” He spoke, but didn’t articulate anything worth listening to, so I concluded with, “As you manage your career, especially if you intend to move up the ladder, I recommend you buy and study the book The First 90-Days.” I was polite, then escorted him to his next interview.
Providing My Feedback to COO
I debriefed with our COO, who wanted my feedback. “I found the guy nearly arrogant to the point that I had to start needling him to get him back on track. I don’t believe he’s the guy to create your department or else he would have known how to position himself accordingly. He may have had a job where he created the function for the new job, but certainly not a department. He’s not your guy. I wouldn’t trust him with that much responsibility.” My COO agreed and said that he found the guy to be too glib and not a fit for our culture.
However, he hadn’t picked up on my observations that the guy couldn’t create a new department, but soon realized after I painted the picture that it was obvious this guy didn’t have the skills. My COO was thankful. “If this guy knew how to do this job, then would have known exactly how to position and package himself to us. He would have easily been able to frame it for us rather than having us frame it for him.” I said. “You’re right, he should have done those things,” the COO agreed with me. The result: No Hire votes to the hiring VP.
Have a 90-Day Plan!
My advice to potential interviewees:
- Identify why you’re a fit, position yourself accordingly
- Sell the benefits of your fit
- Have a 90-day plan so you can demonstrate success by showing you’ve done your homework and have a methodology in transitioning quickly into your new job
Or you may face someone like me who can see through the poor positioning and end any chance of getting the job. Sounds harsh, but interviewing should be your chance to shine and sell yourself. U.S. Presidents have transition teams and plans for their first 100 days, why shouldn’t you?
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