Didn’t Get The Job? Don’t Forget Who Is Interviewing You: Everyone
As I read this past Sunday New York Times business section, I was reminded in the story by the CEO of Spreadshirt that when we are interviewing someone is always watching and that we need to always be aware of this. In the article, she mentioned that she always asks the receptionists to weigh in their opinion about candidates because the receptionists observe a candidate’s behavior when they are not in the formal interview setting. This reinforces the old adage that “you are who you are when no else is looking.”
In conversation yesterday with a CEO, he was telling me the story of how he had gone to lunch with a prospective senior executive for his company and during the lunch the candidate ordered what he described as a “very complex salad order”. He was not surprised that when the salad arrived it was not exactly what the candidate had ordered. When the waiter offered to place a new order, the candidate just pushed the salad back to the waiter and said something rudely to the effect of, “never mind, I wasn’t hungry anyway.” Despite the interview lunch, the senior executive was hired but didn’t work out. Later when the CEO reflected on the senior executive’s inflexibility, overly-demanding behavior, and rough communication skills, he remembered his interview lunch.
Both interview examples are great reminders that in the interview process, every move we make is a moment of evaluation and we need to be cognizant of this if we want to be sure that we are putting forward the best overall impression. A few of the people who are likely to be called on to provide their opinion could be: travel agents, car service drivers, receptionists, recruiting coordinators, executive assistants, etc. Consider that anyone who is in the interview exposure chain is fair game to be called on for their impression and point of view. Here are a few thoughts to make sure that your overall impression is being well-managed:
- Consider everyone as if they are the CEO. Don’t take for granted that he/she is an assistant in the recruiting department. This person may well be the conduit to the most senior person in the hiring decision and how you treat this person, the timeliness and thoroughness of response to their inquiries, and the follow-through you show to them should be the same for them and others as it would be if you knew you were talking or responding to the CEO.
- Act like you already work for the company. If you already worked for the company you would be sure to be kind and respectful to everyone and you would go out of your way to build relationships. If you start thinking that way now, then you will take the extra moment to find out something about the travel agent or the receptionist because you know you will be working with them again soon. Establish this mindset now.
- Pay lots of attention to Executive Assistants. I say this with some knowledge as I married the Executive Assistant to the Chairman of PepsiCo; executive assistants actually are the ones who run the company. They may not be the ones who make the final decision, but their opinion on people is very important. Have an executive assistant put you on their black-ball list and you will be in a battle for your career. Be sure and provide lots of respect, consideration and gratitude to those in the EA role. They work really hard and they get asked about their impressions of people all the time.
- Practice the Golden Rule and you will do great. The CEO who observed how his candidate treated the waiter at lunch instinctively knew right then and there that something was wrong. When someone doesn’t practice the Golden Rule it is fairly obvious to others. If you truly treat people as you would have them treat you, then that will alleviate any and all wrong or bad impressions.