Yesterday morning as I was sitting in my office pondering what today’s blog would be about, my phone rang and I received my first ever call from a head-hunter.
The man at the other end of the phone is an executive recruiter and after he identified himself as such I assumed he was calling to offer me a CEO position at Microsoft, Google, Exxon or General Motors.
To my absolute shock and surprise he was not calling to offer me anything at all.
He was calling to tell me that an acquaintance had forward him a copy of last week’s blog (#14. A rewarding habit to acquire) – the one about Harriet, the lady who wrote a script and then rehearsed with her husband before approaching and successfully asking her boss for a raise.
He told me that the content of the blog really resonated with him as, after more than 20 years in the head hunting field, he was still astounded at the number of people who came in for interviews completely unprepared and without having taken any time to learn about the organizations they were hoping to work for.
This man has placed senior managers and executives in some of the largest corporations in Canada, but he was not calling to tell me of his successes, he was calling to share with me details of the many times he has been surprised, shocked and disappointed at the nonchalance of some of his candidates.
He explained that in his office he keeps two sets of files. The first one contains information about people he has recommended to clients (he usually presents his top three choices) and who were not awarded the available positions. The second file contains the names of those he “would not recommend to anyone, anytime, ever.”
Our time was spent discussing the conduct necessary to qualify for File Number Two.
It seems it is not too difficult to gain access entry into this file.
Any of the following will do the job.
- Show up really late for your interview with your prospective new boss and offer no explanation.
- Focus on what you expect the company to do, and provide, for you.
- Show no interest in the company. Do not bother visiting their website to learn even the most basic facts about the organization.
- Wear sweats; after all they are hiring you, not your clothes.
- Stop at the bar for a few drinks before you head over for the interview; alcohol on your breath projects a strong sense of confidence.
- Take no time preparing yourself for the interview. Wing it. After all you are a superstar and they should be thrilled that you would even consider working for them.
- Begin the conversation by listing your demands.
- Interrupt often, what you have to say is far more important than anything they may have to say.
- Correct them. It’s important to let them know that you are the smartest person in the room.
- Don’t have your facts at your fingertips. Have long pauses before answering questions so they can see that you are making answers up as you go along.
- Use profanity.
- Put down your existing employer. This always impresses the crowd.
- Never admit you don’t know. Make something up even if by doing so it becomes obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about.
- Refuse to answer the difficult questions. Repeatedly say things like “that’s none of your business.”
Naturally as he recited these qualifiers, I laughed at each one. Sadly, he explained to me that each and every one of the above examples have been, and still are, portrayed by candidates filing through his office.
He told me that the rudeness, lack of preparation, sense of entitlement, arrogance and egotism never fails to amaze him.
He said that he has often thought of writing a “How to prepare for an interview” pamphlet that he would send to all prospective candidates but decided against doing so as he felt it should not be necessary for folks applying for senior positions to require training in common sense.
His parting words were to tell me that if candidates truly did not get the need to master the Habit of Constantly Doing Better they would make it into File Number One.
A pretty powerful statement from a person who, on a daily, sees the effects of not adopting the Habit of Constantly Doing Better.
I have a hunch he has put me in File Number Two.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.