3 Razor Thin Lines You Must Walk to Be a Great Candidate

In some recent posts I have had discussions about the difference between good and great. I have never met someone who wants to be below average however I think there are many people who are satisfied with being good. With the best roles being sought after competitively you have to ask yourself a question, is good going to get it done? Actually, sometimes the answer is yes. If lack of talented candidates in your field has created a significant scarcity then yes, being just good might be more than good enough. For example, there are only 4 universities in the United States that graduate degreed welding engineers. I have actually filled a few welding engineering roles I can tell you from first-hand experience that they are extremely hard to find.

If you want to hire a recruiter perhaps you can look at your three or four finalists and determine who would be the best culture fit. If you are looking for a welding engineer the criteria might look a lot different. “Can she weld? Yes? Hire her!” I’m kidding…a little… However most of us don’t have welding engineering degrees and tend to work in fields that don’t experience that perpetual scarcity that gives welding engineers the type of career control all of us might envy if you take the time to think about it. Most of us, if we want that next role with all the perks and career advancement are going to have to come off great in the interview. Like many things worth doing that is easier said than done.

I have one singular goal for this post. I am going to look at three different things that will help you distinguish yourself as top 25% talent. We are going to operate under the assumption that you are qualified for the role, have done your research and that generally speaking you make sense as a hire for the role you are interviewing for. If all that is true and you can pull of the three things below then you will go a long way towards being considered great. Before you get started, of you haven’t downloaded my FREE Interview Prep Guide what are you waiting for? Its free, click that link and get it!

 

Being perceived as confident, not cocky

I am going to start here just in case you only have time to read one of these. When I have an amazing candidate, who fits all the criteria amazingly and I hear that my client is going to pass, this is often the reason. For a lot of people this can be hard. You are amazing at your job, you have the track record, the attitude and you know you are just what they need. You know that you can do that job today and hey have problems you have fixed in the past and you feel you can fix it here. When all those components are there it can be hard to taper back the enthusiasm about what you bring to the table. But, if you really want to be a great candidate, you have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, feel free to brag about yourself a little bit. People like confidence and they buy passion. But also show some humility and the desire to continuing to develop because let’s face it, you don’t know everything. You can be a great candidate but still have areas you want to develop in, great candidates know this.

 

Come off interested but not desperate

Let’s pretend for a minute that being desperate wont impact your leverage to negotiate if an offer comes. I mean, it totally does, but momentarily let’s just look at how it impacts how you are perceived as a candidate. If you are totally desperate and everything about you screams “I NEED THIS JOB, I MUST GET THIS JOB” how do you think it makes you look? What questions do you think that puts into your interviewer’s head? The fact of the matter is at the end of the day you want every person to who interviews you thinking “we would be lucky to land this candidate”. You want employers thinking that not only would you be a great hire but that it is an opportunity with a limited window. It’s basic psychology that people want what they think they can’t have. Bottom line is that it’s not good for you to come across as desperate. Now, by no means am I advocating playing hard to get. Don’t do that. These are adults and if you play games they will get tired of them. However great candidates can walk this line. They can express interest in what the opportunity could mean for their career but they take a measured, pragmatic approach. That is what the best candidates do and what I would advise you to do.

 

Motivated to leave your current role but not bashing

This is another one that impacts a ton of candidates. However, this one doesn’t just hurt potential great candidates, its literally one that everyone will have to find balance when discussing. A cardinal sin when interviewing is bashing your former employee. I don’t care if you worked at Enron right before the financial crisis, bashing your former employer will never ever be received well. You could be telling the 100% truth, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes things aren’t black and white, there are many shades of gray. This is not one of those times. If you bash your old employers, you are hurting your chances of getting the job. I have never been a meeting following a group of interviews and heard someone say, “You know what really impressed me? I love the way Ben just eviscerated the work habits of his former boss. Epic!” That doesn’t happen. It makes you come off as difficult and people will consequently want to avoid working with you. On the other end, if you work for the greatest employer in the world, why in the hell are you looking? You have to find a balance here. While your current employer is great and you have learned a ton, they have some basic limitations that stand in the way of the lofty goals you have set for yourself in regards to personal and professional development. Find a good way to say that. Find something that is true to you, doesn’t make you look desperate and makes you feel grateful for your time there while still indicating your desire to move for what you would consider the perfect opportunity. That my friends, is the key.

Was that helpful? I hope so. Walking these 3 razor thin lines you must walk to be a perfect candidate may not be easy to accomplish but if you can, you will have gone a long way towards strengthening your candidacy. Any other ones I missed? Feel free to comment below and as I always, please share with your networks on any social media platform you use, I appreciate it. Oh and one last thing, if you have check out my Work with Ben section, give it a look. After some feedback from readers I have created a way for candidates who need assistance to work with me as well as a way for organizations who want to find the best passive talent to engage my company and I. Even if you just want to have a conversation about it check it out. My company saves our clients over 50% on traditional agency recruiters and every single candidate we supply is 100% passive, we never post jobs….period…even if I wanted to do I wouldn’t be able to. Thanks again and have an awesome day!

The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers

There is a huge gap between bad interviewers and good interviewers. As a recruiter, you know pretty much right away if a candidate is a bad interviewer. There is the awkward and unenthusiastic “hello” when they pick up the phone. There is the lack of preparedness that becomes more and more obvious as the conversation goes on. There is the constant noise in the background that indicates “I didn’t plan far enough in advance to get to a quiet spot” and a variety of other cues that are painfully obvious to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time interviewing people. However, there isn’t that big of a gap between good and great interviewers.

In fact, it could take a whole conversation or perhaps more time to be able to distinguish whether you are talking to a great interviewer or just a good one. There are many things that you can do that will put you on one side or the other. Some of them are small things but sometime they can make the difference. I am willing to bet that some of you reading this are good interviewers while others of you are great! (there might even me a correlation between those of you who frequent my blog and are great interviewers perhaps….jk) I am also willing to bet that none of you pick up the phone when you interviewing thinking “I hope that I am good, not great for this phone interview”. While there are many things you can do to become good, I am going to give you one solid thing you can immediately implement to become a great interviewer.

Before we go into that let’s talk about the process of putting together a phone interview. Initially I have a meeting with my hiring manager where I am told what it is they are looking for. I ask a set of questions that will help me determine in greater detail what I need to go out into the market and find. At some point in the conversation certain questions the hiring manager would like asked are discussed. Frequently those questions are something like this “Give me an example of a time you had to deal with competing deadlines? What was the decision you had to make? What did you decide to do? And “What was the outcome?” So your recruiter might ask you those series of questions and often it’s because the hiring manager is looking for something specific in your response.

So back to being good or great. When I as a question like that most candidates will start by saying, “well in my role that happens every day.” In my book, that is a fair start. In many roles they will ask you a question that turns out to be something that you need to deal with frequently. So here is where good and great gets defined when it comes to this questions. Good candidates will say something like “In those case you need to assess the situation, take a look at the manpower you can get to assist or make a judgement call based on priorities etc.” Depending on the recruiter, that is a good answer. But, a great answer is different in a very specific way. A great answer gives you a specific example. It tells of an actual time you, as the candidate, did that exact thing. In great detail it describes your thought process, the action you took, the outcome of that action and how this specific example has contributed to the professional you are today.

You see, saying that happens all the time may be true. And following it with a hypothetical situation may give your interviewer a glimpse into your decision making process in said situation. However, in the truest sense, it isn’t actually answering the question. Your interviewer asked for a specific example. You weren’t asked what you might do, they want to know what you have done. If you answer in hypotheticals, then you are missing the boat on what your interviewer was actually trying to accomplish and you are falling short of great. Give a specific example, tell the interviewer your specific actions, not what the team did, reach a coherent conclusion and do this without the story going on too long. That can be the difference between good and great.

Well there you have it, that is the difference between good interviewers and great interviewers. If you haven’t done so, go get your free copy of my new FREE Interview Prep Guide, it’s absolutely free, get yours now! I hope you find this helpful and actionable. Please feel free to share and as always, have a great day!

1 Question You Need to Ask Every Candidate: My Take On a Lou Adler Tip

Do you guys see that above pic? Yes, that is a real picture and that is a recruiting legend….and Lou Adler. Just kidding that is a picture of me and recruiting legend Lou Adler. I had a full day of training with Lou and then saw him speak at a Titus Talent event thrown in downtown Milwaukee. Over the next few weeks or so I plan on sharing some of the information I learned from Lou with all of you. The following post is for anyone who will at some point in the future need to sell a candidate to a hiring manager. If you don’t feel you ever need to do that, feel free to read on anyway because it’s a good skill to have and you never know when you might benefit from having acquired this skill.

Part 1

Now while this question is directed to the candidate, to properly execute it, it actually starts way before the interview. It starts with your conversation with the hiring manager. In order to do this correctly you need to find the pain point. What is this hiring manager hoping this person will come in to do. There are several ways to get this information. Sometimes it will be blatantly obvious. The hiring manager will state over and over again that they are staying late, working long hours to accomplish a task this person is typically responsible for. If that’s the case, part one has been made easy for you. If not there are questions you can ask to find it out but for this to work, you absolutely must find it out. One of the things you can ask your hiring manager (or client if you are an agency recruiter) is “What project or deliverable will this person have right out of the gate, the first 90 days on the job?”

Typically, if you ask this question the hiring manager will reveal the pain point they are dealing with. So you ask the question and in return they say “well yes, this person is going to involved in an inter-plant relocation. That is going to be a big, high impact project that they will be expected to co tribute to right away.” If they say that well guess what, they have just made your job a lot easier. Ok, so you have that crucial piece of information, let’s move onto part two.

Quick break! Last week I finally published my FREE Interview Prep Guide, go check it out now… or after you are done with the post!

Part 2

Part two is you take that deliverable and you turn that into a question you will ask the candidate. In this specific case you would ask the candidate “Have you ever been a part of inter-plant relocation?” Now an inter-plant relocation is when you move the insides of a facility around in order to create efficiencies. For example, in a manufacturing facility, if there is an area of manufacturing and an area of assembly that are in different areas and you could eliminate waste by moving them closer together, then you might want to move them closer together. Thank you for bearing with me during that explanation, I have a business degree, not an industrial engineering degree. So you ask that question and that candidate says yes. You then follow that up with a bunch of follow yup questions. “What was your contribution to that project?” “You said you managed people on this project, how many people were under your direct management?” “What was the budget for this move?” “Who’s idea was this move?” “What efficiencies were created by implementing this change?”

Basically, you ask as many questions as you need to until you have as full of an understanding as you are capable of having. Now that you have this information, what can you use it for? The answer is simple, you use it to sell the candidate to the hiring manager. I had a boss who once told me that recruiting is all about just creating a conversation between two people. You make those conversations happen and good things will happen. Many times I have submitted a candidate I felt great about just to have the hiring manager look at their resume and say something like “Yea, I am not sure about this candidate, I don’t see enough ABC”. If you are able to arm yourself with the information you can get from asking these questions than you have positioned yourself to be able to sell your candidate on a level you haven’t been able to do before. Not only that but you have positioned yourself to be more consultative. You have unearthed the core reason for the need and then provided candidates who have previous examples of filling these gaps in talent and presented them to your hiring manager. If the manager waffles about having that initial phone screen, as long as the example they provide is impactful and similar to what they will need to do in this new role, then you have armed yourself with the ammunition that in most cases should be more than enough.

So what did you think? Was that helpful? Do you think you will be able to use it? Do you have any other tips that you have used in the past to sell candidates? If so, I would love to hear it below. Also if you liked this post, please share it with your social media networks. Thanks again for reading and have a great day!