I’ve conducted a few interviews lately, looking to add another winner or two to the Cape Town team. Seeing exclusively graduates, I am astounded at the lack of interest their universities appear to show in helping them gain employment.
One striking example of being left to their own devices, with zero interview coaching, also struck me as a useful reminder for sales people entering their first call.
Yes, it’s true that “people buy from people”, so in theory as long as you get along with the buyer you can bend the rules, yet how many people genuinely prepare for an initial meeting?
Two successive interviewees deployed wildly contrasting approaches. The first brought along a folder. In it I spied print-outs of the job ad along with some content from a webpage. She’d highlighted with a pink pen certain text and written questions on the sheet. She also had a few specific queries, all aimed at uncovering whether the role was aligned with her preferred career path. Excellent.
Then the next candidate entered the room, pretty much hands-in-pockets. He clearly had no prepared questions, and mentioned in passing reference to a website of ours. The difference was illuminating. I gave him a fair crack though, as I recalled an interview I once had (when I was also an unemployed graduate). I think the outfit was Baker MacKenzie. Anyway, the lady that assessed me started waffling on with pretty useless advice at the end of the session. I had moved on mentally (how did I ever think PR was for me?!) when she started to give me a rollocking for not taking any notes on her sage words. I gave her short shrift and left the building. Amazingly I got a call that afternoon inviting me in for a second interview.
When I meet prospects (people running sales teams) I must admit to an ounce of complacency. I’ve got used to them loving talking about their business that my own prep is occasionally limited. I must resolve now to at least show my intent by printing off more than just the directions from their website.