Hiring for leadership roles is clearly not the same as hiring for tactical positions. You have a potential partner relationship happening and you need to know what’s going on behind the façade of the interview ‘dance’.
This issue came up last month, as I was sitting in on a VP interview as an observer. The candidate was an interesting fit for the VP role in the organization and my client was excited to meet her.
At the end of the interview, and after the candidate had left, I had a candid conversation with the CEO and asked him what he had learned.
What he was certain about was that the candidate had the smarts, the technical prowess and the business knowledge to get the job done. But when it came time to understand how interested or engaged the candidate was, I was met with a blank stare.
I’ve had the opportunity of sitting through literally hundreds of interviews with hiring managers. Most appreciate my presence as it provides an outside perspective on how the company and manager sell themselves and the opportunity. We then de-brief about the candidate and their thoughts on the individual. I enjoy the value that I can bring and clients find that an outsider’s perspective is often helpful.
What I see happening, over and over again, is an interview which is a feel good experience but without tackling some of the important issues that are critical to finding the right fit and the level of engagement. Think of it as a dance where you’ve met someone that you’re interested in. By the end of the evening, you’ve decided that there’s an attraction but there are a whole bunch of things that you want to know before you decide to go out again.
Here are some thoughts on knowledge that you should walk away from after your first interview/date with a candidate. This is a substantial list, and may not 100 percent do-able every time. It’s obviously critical to check off Questions 1-3. The other part is critical, as well, and should be at least broached in the first interview to decide if you want to keep going.
If you think of the interview experience as a first date with someone you’re potentially interested in, you’ll do some digging to figure out if you want to keep going.
The backgrounder information is part of whom and what motivates that person. Don’t let it go too long into the relationship before you do the digging.