Acing the Final Interviewing Hurdle!

These days, no one gets appointed to a job after one interview…..no matter how senior or junior the role, there is a process to follow.

Meet the line manager, meet the other ‘dotted’ reporting lines in the matrix, meet the other members of the management team (peers), meet the direct reports, meet the representatives from the divisions where there will be interaction, and then (just when you think it’s all over)…. meet a few other interested stakeholders.

Then after everyone agrees that the candidate is perfectly suitable, there is some form of psychometric assessment (these can range from a quickie online, to several days of high pressure testing). And then, if the candidate miraculously manages to pass through all of this, sometimes a final test awaits……the Panel Presentation!

The presentation topic is sent to the candidate at least a few days prior to the interview so that one can do some research and prepare ‘at leisure’. Don’t be lulled into believing that this is going to be a walk in the park, because it’s at this final phase of the interviewing process that candidates actually prove themselves truly worthy…..or not!

After some analysis of the success and failures, I can provide some pointers to candidates facing this final hurdle:

  1. It’s NOT about how great a presenter you are (although a crash course at Dale Carnegie won’t do any harm)
  2. It’s NOT about how brilliant the content is (but you will need to be above average, at least)
  3. It IS about your confidence and ease in an often stressful situation (we recently had finalist candidates be required to present to a full Board of 15 people).
  4. It IS about demonstrating your strategic thought process and ability to think on your feet.
  5. And it DEFINITELY IS about doing your research on the company, its philosophy or mission, its people, products, competitors, etc. Even if the presentation does not require you to engage on these topics, NOT knowing enough about the company could be the ultimate deciding factor.

Now go ace that final interview!

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Are you losing your cache in attracting talent?

With over 20 years in the executive search business we have seen many shifts and trends in how companies are perceived by the talent they look to attract. None is more concerning than the loss of cache that seems to be occurring with some of the biggest names across many industries.

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The reasons can be quite varied ranging from loss of leadership positioning due to more intense competition; poor stock or management performance reports; stigma by association to industries that have undergone reputational loss; lacking focus on innovation; seeming to be mired in old ways of doing things; high turnover that gives a “churn and burn” impression – and one that we are seeing more and more –  constant reorganizations that, while done for the right business reasons, are not well communicated and give the external impression that things are not stable.

A look at some of the top names in their respective industries on glassdoor.com is startling in that it reveals that the ratings for employee satisfaction are quite poor – and the reasons for the low ratings are often tied to constant restructuring.  “It’s OK” seems to have become the new acceptable standard for employee satisfaction. If that’s the best that the people working for the company can say about it, why would a high quality prospect be interested in joining the company?

We’ve seen an increasing challenge in attracting executive talent to top tier companies and have had to put much greater emphasis on selling the opportunities and dispelling the misconceptions prospects may have than was previously the case – the brand often no longer holds the same appeal that it did in the past. Often top tier companies have lost sight of how their employer brand is perceived in the market and are surprised that the calibre of people they want are not clamouring for their job.

One client that recently engaged us to find them a VP of Marketing was surprised that they had to engage an executive search firm as they felt they had a marketer’s dream job on offer. They had posted the assignment on multiple industry sites and, while receiving hundreds of applications, did not deem any of them worth an interview. They were attracting lots of people but not of the quality they were looking for. When we reached out and spoke to senior marketers the initial response was lukewarm. The market perception was that the company had gone through so many reorganizations that it was seen as no longer being a stable place to work. The question back to us was – why should I consider moving from a company where I am challenged and valued to a situation I see as risky? This was only aggravated by the “cattle call” approach the client previously took to looking for this senior executive. While we were happy to get the assignment, our work was certainly made harder by these circumstances.

We’re seeing this more and more – companies that are still trading strictly on their market dominance and not realizing that they have lost their cache as an employer. They continue to approach talent acquisition from the perspective of a “buyer” and an attitude that everyone would want to work here.  That’s why they are so frequently surprised that they are not attracting the caliber of talent they want when they go to market directly. Attracting top talent is a sales process from end to end and requires presenting a compelling story, often correcting market perceptions, about the company and the opportunity.