The performance, or sometimes lack of it, of senior leaders in a recruitment process is nothing short of a phenomenon. It is safe to say that, considering what they have achieved in their careers and that they have probably recruited and developed teams themselves, we all wrongly assume that senior leaders know how to prepare for and perform in a recruitment process.
So many just turn up for their interviews badly prepared with the assumption that their success to date will get them through. I always ensure that candidates think of the recruitment process like they would if they or their company were pitching for a big project or order. Think how you would prepare for success. I am sure you would leave no stone unturned in your research of the potential new customer, the opportunity and how you could prove that you are well qualified or aligned to become an effective and successful business partner. Most candidates nod to this and would look at me strangely as they wouldn't dare to just "rock up" to such an important meeting totally under prepared and "wing it". So why then are they prepared to represent themselves without the same level of investment in research and interview preparation? I don't have the answer to this and can only keep helping. advising and coaching senior candidates to set themselves up for success.
Here is my advice on how you can prepare well.
1. Understand what you are looking for
Before embarking on a job hunt or being flattered and enticed by a recruiter into a recruitment process, you need to know what success would look like for you. What kind of company do you want to work for. What would their purpose be, what would their culture feel like and what kind of a role would ensure that you jump out of bed on a cold and wet Monday morning? Align your thoughts to your career plan or aspirations. This will ensure you rule out opportunities that don't align early on and avoid time wasting for all parties involved.
2. Research the opportunity
Value yourself. It is not just about a company loving you. You also need to love them. In addition to the obvious online research that you can do, use your personal, professional or Linked in network to connect with contacts who know about the company you are interviewing with. What is their feedback? Find out the company's purpose, vision and values. What is the leadership culture like? What do their internal and external stakeholders think of them? What does the future look like? Information from "the horses mouth" is priceless both for you to ensure the opportunity fits your career plan but also to help you prepare well to impress the interviewers. It also qualifies if their online persona matches reality.
3. Understand the recruitment process
What are you embarking on? How many stages are involved? What is involved? For example, psychometric assessments (which ones), psychologists, presentations, panel interviews and who will you be meeting along the way. How many interviews will be involved? Knowing this will allow you to prepare thoroughly whether it be doing practice assessments, researching the personalities of who you are meeting or knowing the style of interviews you can expect. Without this information how can you possibly prepare for success?
4. Understand the time-scales involved
When does the employer want the new leader in the role? Will your notice period allow this and does it fit with when you want to start and not have to give up bonus payments etc.. Knowing time-scales will also allow you to plan your diary and be free on the dates set by the employer.
5. What is the package on offer?
No point starting in a recruitment process if the remuneration on offer is no where near your aspirations or expectations. Don't assume the company will break their salary banding just because you're amazing! Ask at the start of the process.
6. Job Description
Get a job description and if it is poor and lacks detail, ask before your interview.
7. Prepare to succeed
Armed with the above information, you should be able to prepare thoroughly and ensure that you perform well against all the challenges set for you. Go back to basics and develop interview questions to prepare your answers for. Look back into your career and prepare case studies that will allow you to effectively provide evidence of your accomplishments and how you achieved them. Make sure you know your CV. Nothing is more embarrassing than not knowing what you have written!
8. Communication is key
As a leader you will be expected to be a great communicator and so the recruitment process will provide you with an opportunity to prove this and provide evidence of your style. Take advantage of this and impress. Be honest with your feedback, remain in contact and don't disappear into a bunker during the process.
These are the basics that I would expect a senior leader to consider when embarking on a recruitment process. With the free online library that is Google, there is no excuse for poor interview preparation.
After interviewing a string of unprepared senior level executives for various jobs, I started wondering what was going on. In one such case, I was interviewing candidates for an officer position, which required a minimum of 15+ years of prior experience. After several interviews in a row where the candidates had not even looked at the website and had very few questions, I realized the lack of preparedness was more than an aberration. Why were candidates, all of whom having achieved significant levels of career success, showing up without having done the fundamental work required to successfully navigate an interview?