After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And The Real Kicker Is...

My candidate has now spoken for eight-minutes-and-counting about a portion of his career that is unrelated to the job at hand and of little interest to his interviewers. My pre-interview instructions have been ignored or forgotten.  My current scowl has failed to deter him.  I will soon resort to the SKUD (Soft Kick Under the Desk) method of deterrence.

It is hard to sit helplessly as a candidate steers his interview toward an inevitable crash-and-burn disaster.  Especially when my coaching has been unambiguous in leading him in a different direction.   Nevertheless, it happens.

In the case described above, the candidate had followed two separate career tracks over the course of his eight-year career.  One path had provided him with the background that made him highly qualified to interview for the managerial role he was now seeking.  The other portion of his career, while spent in a prestigious company, had taught him no skills that would be directly applicable to the current role.

During his interview, my candidate came across as eager to go into great detail about the unrelated aspects of his career; less enthusiastic about describing his relevant experience.  This was the exact opposite of what should have happened.

I advise my candidates to focus on the skills and experience that are specifically related to the job at hand and “fly over” the rest of their careers at the 20,000-foot level, providing few specifics.  If an employer is interested in the “flown-over” information, she has the option of asking questions. 

A good thing for candidates to remember: Each minute spent dwelling on unrelated experience is a minute not spent describing important skills that are actually relevant to your interviewer. 

Another good thing to remember:  If you see my foot twitching menacingly, GET BACK ON TRACK.

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