Following up on my recent blog post “The Three Phases of the Hiring Recovery:”

Phase Three:  “Let’s Hire!”
I think the majority of companies that intend to hire have moved to this phase.  It’s in the early stages, however, meaning the active recruiting for these positions is just beginning.  Recruiting will be a challenge because it’s not business as usual.  Many of the positions have never existed in the form they are now.  Evaluating the talent against the criteria is new to everyone.  Candidates have to be extremely adept at homing in on the specifics of the job spec, and those who are influencing the hiring decision have to be extraordinarily disciplined in their approach to evaluating candidates based on the new reality.

As a candidate you need to  approach the interview process with a more rigorous fact finding mission, pre-, during, and post interview.  The preparation and research is critical and it has to be deep and wide. Making assumptions can be your downfall.

I recently met a CMO who has changed positions three times in the last six years.  For each first interview he estimates he put in a minimum of forty hours of research and preparation.  In each job search he was made an offer, and each time he interviewed with only one company (an offer was not made on the first interview but you get the idea).

The amount of time and rigor needed in the fact finding and research on an opportunity has increased exponentially.  Here are a few tips on how to approach the research:

  • Approach the position as though you were recruiting for it, not interviewing for it.
  • Identify exactly what the position requires:  what are the skills, experiences and technical expertise that are “must haves,” what are the success measures within associated time frames, and what are the resources available to accomplish the goals.
  • Establish the priorities for all the requirements.

To state the obvious, everyone would love to know these things prior to an interview but most companies are not going to come right out and tell you.  It goes directly back to the requirement of dedicating time and effort for research and preparation.  A couple calls to alums of the company is where you start, not where you finish.  Just as in your job search you have to network and dig to get to the info.  Some of the info may be through conversations and some might be inferred based on your research of the business and the industry.  When you have the opportunity to speak with someone familiar with the company, don’t just ask their opinion but ask specific questions about the company and the position.  Test your thoughts based on the research you are doing.

Once you have identified these critical experiences and skills, then you can assess yourself against the list and prepare your success stories that apply to the position.

Too many times candidates will look at the requirements of a position but not identify the priorities of the hiring company.  As a result, the candidate prioritizes needs based on their skills rather than on the needs of the company.  Ultimately, the likelihood of securing an offer will be directly related to the amount of time you spend in preparation and research.

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