Are you interviewing for an executive role? How are you coming across? It may be different than what you think?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job Search
Recently, we were helping a company find some candidates for an executive-level position. Early in the process, we brought people in for a quick meet-and-greet. And those who couldn’t make it, we did a video conference. Boy, can you learn a lot about a person when you see how they act in person. What a difference from a phone screen. And what a great way to separate the top candidates – those you should spend more time on – from those who are wasting your time and their own. Here are a few of the things candidates did – that took them out of the running fairly quickly:
You kept moving in your chair. And I don’t mean rolling. I mean constantly changing your seating position. From one side to the other. Adjusting. Fidgeting. I checked the chair after you left to ensure it wasn’t as uncomfortable as you made it appear. And it wasn’t. So maybe it was you. Maybe you can’t sit still. The job didn’t really call for someone who could “sit still for three hours” but if you can’t sit still for three minutes, then you’re probably not a good fit. Maybe you should focus on outdoor positions – like a postal worker. They don’t have to (or get to) sit for very long at all.
I asked you a question about your background, and you kept looking at your resume to see what it said and verify that what you’re telling me is correct. One of many things is happening. Either you don’t remember what you did. You don’t remember what you wrote. Or you’re an imposter. Any of which don’t bode well when looking for a job. Tell you what. If you don’t remember what’s on your resume, either study up prior to having a conversation with someone, or remove the information. I didn’t need you to be 100% spot on. If you were off by a few percentage points of revenue results – I didn’t really care, but you didn’t remember any of your results or the timeframe in which you supposedly produced them. Who even wrote your resume?
You took the videoconference in what appeared to be a baby’s nursery. That would’ve been great if were interviewing to run a child-care center. But you weren’t. And it just looked unprofessional. The funny thing is that your camera was on your laptop. And last time I checked, laptops were pretty mobile. You couldn’t find a better background in the entire house? If you don’t have a great background, then set one up. Hang a nice picture on the wall, put a plant on a credenza, shut the blinds – so you don’t have too much light facing the camera. Easy.
You wore stripes. I kept reaching for the controls to adjust the horizontal hold. Then you moved and it made me dizzy. Stick to plain shirts next time.
Speaking of shirts. Your shirt can often define your level of professionalism. I don’t care if it’s casual Friday, and it’s your very best concert t-shirt with all the tour dates from the 2005 Loggins & Messina Reunion Tour. But if you don’t come into an interview (whether it’s on videoconference or in person) in a suit, I can’t take you seriously for a leadership role.
You left without knowing where you stood. You didn’t ask about your competition. You didn’t ask if you were a top candidate or somewhere in the middle. Didn’t you want to know if you were a fit or not? I was dying to tell you. But, if you want to walk out and not know where you stand, I guess that’s your prerogative.
We had some pretty stellar candidates. But by and large, the stellar candidates had very similar attributes. They were sharply dressed (maybe the concert t-shirt was underneath the suit?), they were prepared and took notes. They had an ease about them that came across as confidence, but not arrogance. They sat still in their chair for normal amounts of time. They were enjoyable. They smiled. They were friendly. They seemed like people you wanted to work with.
From now on, forget the phone screens. Because, before we spend too much more time together, I want to know if you can dress properly, if you know your own background, and if you have the presence worthy of the role.