Anne Harper entered Richard’s office eager to share how qualified she was for his job offering. She was one of five selected to interview out of 52 applicants. Anne had the skills and qualifications on paper and presented herself well face-to-face in the first three minutes. Richard was positively predisposed.
After the social warm-up, the first question he asked her was, “Please describe the job that we are interviewing for today so I can clarify any areas.”
What Anne did: Stumbled. She could not articulate the primary roles and responsibilities. She made up information on the fly and did not even have a copy of Richard’s job description with her.
What Anne could have done: Pulled out the printed job description from her neatly organized research, placed it on the table, and summarized the 3 key points that she had written on the document or in separate notes. This would demonstrate she had studied it and extracted some key insights.
What Richard expected: A high level overview that demonstrated that Anne understood what he wanted. Richard would have been fine with Anne saying that she had some questions but that this was her best understanding at that time (humility is good). Richard would have also been fine with notes in front of Anne. It would have demonstrated that she took time to prepare.
The second question Richard asked Anne was: “What do you know about my company and my team, division, or organization?”
What Anne did: Stumbled again. She could not describe the industry, what Richard’s company sold to what type of customer (service or product), how they were different from their competition, or the various divisions that comprised the company. More importantly, she was unable to talk about Richard’s division within the company, even though that information was widely available on the web.
What Anne could have done: Anne should have gone to Richard’s website, read their About section, and much more. She could have printed key pages to bring in with her to show she did her research. She could have written out a brief bullet-point list of her description based on her research. She could also end her well-done summary with, “I have a question about your division when you have time.”
What Richard expected: A decent summary, showing she researched his business. He was looking for not only an understanding but some display of passion, energy, or excitement about what they do. Richard wanted to hire someone who would enjoy the space his company is in. He was also inspecting her ability to synthesize a large amount of data into a summary. Again, Richard would have been fine if Anne brought her preparation notes in with her.
Within the first 10 minutes, it was clear Anne had not done any research on Richard’s business, industry, or customers that the role supported. You can guess the result. Anne did not get hired.
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