SAGE ADVICE FOR RESUMES, INTERVIEWING, AND MORE!
- By bruce w clagg
INTERVIEWING…Hate it? Enjoy it…really? (Part 1 of 2)
The Interview. Just those two words alone spew a multitude of feelings, mostly negative, no matter whether you are the hiring manager/decision maker (hereinafter the “DM”), or the candidate.
Speaking for a moment as a former VP/GM in the high-tech sector, I have interviewed more than 8,000 people over the course of 30-some years. What training was ever received? The quick answer is “none!” Yes, I had my sheets of paper with numerous questions to ask so, at least, the interview stayed on track and with some sort of time frame, e.g. eh, about 60 minutes, or so. Their origin? Who knows? ...probably some HR seminar.
As a candidate, researching the target company is so much easier with the advent of the Internet and company websites. Perhaps some salient questions come from that. There are a number of books, articles, blogs, et al, but some people are more comfortable with posing those questions than others and then, what about “the look,” the attitude, the body language of the interviewer? Is this the right time to ask such a question, or any question? My time for questions normally comes towards the end!
No matter which side of the table you are on, neither party truly enjoys interviewing. Be honest. Yet without the interview, how would the candidate know if this is the “right job” with the “right company?” How would the DM know if you are the “best candidate,” “the right fit,” et cetera?
I am not aware of a single MBA program in the country that teaches the art of interviewing. Those that pursue a B.A./M.A. in Human Resources certainly get a list of questions and, perhaps, more, but they alone cannot hire anyone outside of HR above entry-level. Maybe that is where I got those dog-eared pages of stupid questions so many years ago? About half of the candidates will be honest to a fault and eliminate themselves…not bad! How many of these people lie, or embellish knowing that it’s almost impossible for a former employer to provide references?
Let’s start at the beginning. If, as the DM, I need to fill a position for whatever the reason, I give thought to the major issues, challenges, problems that will face the new person. If there were none, I would eliminate the position and let that expense flow directly to profit! Ah, but there ARE major issues and challenges and now what “level” of person do I need? An old pro (that should be able to hit the ground running…maybe) that will be more costly, or can a younger, less experienced individual on their way up the corporate ladder and cost me less be a better choice?
Decision made. Now, does my network of colleagues, acquaintances, and close friends know anyone? Perhaps THEY know people that know someone? Alas, no within my timeframe. Now to complete the dreaded Human Resources Personnel Requisition (the HR Req) – Yuk! Job Title, Location, blah-blah, and then Requirements/Qualifications. Let’s see…I’ve decided that I need an “eagle” in that position knowing I need depth of experience and it will cost me more than the “pigeon” in this case, so:
- BS/BA Required. Major? Nah, unimportant on THIS hire.
- (Let’s see….) MBA preferred, or required? Eh, preferred.
- (“Eagle,” huh?) Minimum of 10 years of supervisory expertise in the high-tech field.
- (Uh…..) Effectively managed an operating budget of $10M+/annually.
- (Oh, boy…) Walk and chew bubble gum? Eh, that’s enough.
…don’t laugh; ask the VP of Human Resources how many Requisitions come in just like that. Well, heck, I can’t post THAT! So let’s add some cut ‘n paste goodies like: Proficient with Oracle; Proficient with MS Word; Excellent Written and Verbal Skills, and so on. Now, it’s ready to post somewhere! Why don’t those Managers (DMs) give us something we can really work with?
The applicant reads the posting and may think (as one of my attorney clients) I only match 9 of 10, so I’m out. Another client matches 2 out of 10 and believes he’s the perfect fit. If this ad posts on an Internet career site, depending upon the level of the position, it could quickly bring 5,000 to 15,000 resumes…maybe more! No one can read that many. You can’t print them, the environmentalists will be at your door for downing trees to make the paper! Ah…parsing software a/k/a ATS, a/k/a Applicant Tracking System. We’ll silently discriminate using automation and insert things that catch age, distance from the office, those from out-of-town that will want relocation expenses, and the list goes on. Then start the “meat-grinder” for this single position and, according to my HR friends, about 300 survive the software grinder. I’m not interviewing 300 people! I don’t really want to interview more than 4, or 5 unless super qualified! So now comes the phone call from HR to cull 295, or so people from consideration. You take it, don’t you? In the driving rain, in heavy traffic, things on your mind, you’ve forgotten completely about applying online with this company, your favorite tune is playing, but you take the call, don’t you? Desperation?
Are you getting the idea that a train wreck for both parties could be coming soon? Look at the turnover percentage in your company and you have no idea what it costs…none. It doesn’t show on the Balance Sheet, or the P&L; you have to be a mathematician to figure it out, but you know turnover is a major, insidious killer of profit, growth, and time.
If you, as the candidate, are unemployed, or about to be, or just looking for a new gig, and you blindly apply to anything that comes close and wonder why the months speed by so quickly.
The good news? I’ll provide both the DM AND the candidate a much easier, win/win way to interview so that both parties feel victorious, turnover costs are minimized, compensation is maximized and both parties start their relationship, not with the normal doubts, but with a high degree of confidence in their decisions. More to follow! (I know, I hate movies that end like that, too!)
Hello! I'm Bruce Clagg,
Advanced Career Solutions
Advanced Career Solutions (ACS) is a professional resume writing services firm also providing unique, job interview training, LinkedIn Profile rebuilding, career counseling & coaching from the ONLY multi-certified professional* in Pennsylvania.
- Bruce Clagg, Rapid Employment & Career Management Coach
*The four Certifications are noted within.