June 29, 2012
This month I conducted in-person interviews with five candidates for an opening on my communications team. Each person followed up with an email or a handwritten thank you note.
One of the notes said:
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me about the communications position. After speaking with you, I am confident that I would be an asset to your team. It was a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again.
I received three more just like that. The names of those four candidates could easily have been interchanged and it would have made no difference. Those individuals filled their notes with bland cliches that failed to differentiate them from the other candidates. Unfortunately, the messages did nothing to remind me why they might be the best fit for the position.
With an opportunity to move our conversations to a deeper level, those candidates were content to communicate with trivial pleasantries. Read the rest of this entry »
June 27, 2012
As a hiring manager, I looked at more than a hundred resumes this month. I talked with so many people that I had trouble keeping everyone straight.
I even interviewed a handful of highly-qualified candidates. While those interviews were energetic and invigorating, the substance of what we talked about began to fade in the days following the interviews.
The most impressive candidates were those who did everything they could to keep their memory alive. Here are some of the specific things they did right after the interview:
- While the memory of our conversations were still fresh in my mind, they quickly followed up with emails and handwritten notes.
- They reiterated their enthusiasm. As an interviewer, I often wonder what the candidate thought about the job after our conversation. Sometimes people become less interested as they learn more about a specific job, so it’s always nice to be reassured that their interest has continued to grow.
- They reminded me how their qualifications matched my needs. They refreshed my memory by giving specific reasons why they would be the ideal fit for my job opening. Read the rest of this entry »
June 25, 2012
A week after interviewing candidates for a job opening, I noticed that some individuals were more memorable. I recalled the substance of some conversations better than others.
Several candidates were able to effectively differentiate themselves because of what they did during the interview. Here are some of the ways they separated themselves from the rest of the pack:
They were appropriately REACTIVE.
The best conversations came when candidates were not focused on providing the “right answers.” Rather, they responded to my questions by providing genuine, authentic and transparent answers. They demonstrated they were reactive in the following ways:
- They allowed me to set the pace of the conversation. They would slow down to elaborate when I requested more information. They would also pick up the pace when they sensed they had shared adequate information.
- They responded to my questions without rambling with answers to questions I did not ask. They listened carefully to what I asked and then reacted by providing thoughtful, transparent answers.
- They reacted to my body language or looked for other clues to make sure they were getting their message across. At times, they even asked for immediate feedback to ensure that they had appropriately addressed the questions I asked. Read the rest of this entry »
June 22, 2012
Five minutes into an interview, I can easily tell how well a person has prepared for our meeting.
Some individuals like to interview so they can practice talking about themselves.
The real winners, though, are those who focus on helping me connect the dots between my needs (first priority) and their qualifications (secondary priority). An interviewee can connect those dots only if he or she has thoroughly prepared ahead of time.
Two weeks ago I interviewed several stellar applicants for a key communications job. I observed certain characteristics among those who interviewed well, and it became obvious that prior to our meeting they had done the following:
- They studied the organization to learn about our strengths and weaknesses. They came into the meeting with a basic understanding of the opportunities and threats we faced. They had done their due diligence.
- From their research, they saw opportunities where they could make a difference. They envisioned the unique impact they could have. Prior to coming into the meeting with me, they had already connected the dots in their own mind.
- They anticipated that I might invite them to, “Tell me about yourself.” They rehearsed their response so it was not a redundant, verbal summary of what I’d already seen on their resume. Instead, they customized their “positioning statements” so they could describe themselves in a differentiated way. Read the rest of this entry »
June 20, 2012
This week I’ll wrap up the recruitment and selection of my new communications manager. As I look back on the six-week process, three thoughts resonate in my mind:
- The number of applicants was overwhelming. Though I’m confident I selected the right person, I feel sad knowing that the orchard was so full of low-hanging fruit that I was unable to connect with many, many qualified candidates.
- Too many really good people do a really bad job of branding themselves. They look the same, they use the same worn cliches and therefore they blend into a seamless stretch of beige. Only a few differentiated themselves.
- The tools for conducting a successful job search have changed. Five years ago a resume was much more important than it is today. Too many people waste time obsessing on their resume when they should be using other methods to differentiate themselves.
Among equally-qualified candidates, differentiation comes from being findable online. Differentiation comes from swimming in the deeper end of the social media pool. Differentiation comes with having writing samples, blog posts and other content show up when someone Googles your name.
From the overwhelming number of applicants, I selected a core group of impressive, highly-qualified individuals to interview in person. They had successfully differentiated themselves. They showed up in a Google search. They made it easy for me to learn more about them before I even called to schedule an interview.
The finalists I personally interviewed did certain things I wish every candidate would do. In the next three blog posts I will share 1) what they did right before the interview, 2) how they handled themselves during the interview and 3) what impressed me with their follow through after the interview.
June 8, 2012
Today—the eighth day of June—carries special meaning for me. Just eight days ago I received the good news that a biopsy showed no signs of cancer.
Yet, on this date eight years ago the news was very different. I can vividly recall that surreal experience as I listened to a soft-spoken specialist tell me I had cancer. He described the rare form of melanoma growing on the retina of my eye.
Shocking! I didn’t see that coming. (Sorry for the pun.) I expected the doctor to tell me I only had a minor abnormality with my vision and life would go on as usual. Instead, I was blindsided by the cold, harsh reality that a large, malignant tumor was growing inside my eye.
Within days, my wife and I found ourselves in Boston where I was the patient of a world-renowned Harvard professor, eye specialist, medical researcher and textbook author. Before undergoing proton therapy, I was scheduled to have surgery at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, an impressive building adjacent to Massachusetts General Hospital.
The night before the procedure, my wife and I dined at a nice restaurant in downtown Boston. Weeks later, as I reflected on the events of that evening, I described my experience this way: Read the rest of this entry »