My posting today is inspired by one thing…not blowing the interview for your dream job. I recently interviewed a friend of mine named Ralph (remember the movie Risky Business…Ralph was not his real name. It was Joel, and he owed Lana $200.00. But I digress). “Ralph” recently interviewed with a company that he really wanted to work for…and he was a great candidate. There was only one problem…he blew the interview, and it was 110% avoidable. Ralph shares his experience with me in the hopes that you’ll not make the same mistakes he made. **I am not using Ralph’s real name because I know that there are people at his current company that read my blog, and I want to make sure he still has a job.**
Me: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Ralph. I know this has been a frustrating week for you. I remember when you emailed me and told me about your pending interview with XXXX Corporation. I know you were studying hard, but you shared with me immediately afterward that everything you spent time on…it was a waste. Can you elaborate?
Ralph: Dude…I blew it. The interviews leading up to the face-to-face meetings were great. I still believe that I would have been a good fit for the role. But as it turned out, I didn’t study the right things and in the end, it was what I didn’t study that cost me the job I have wanted for some time with an amazing company.
Me: When you say you were studying the wrong things, what do you mean?
Ralph: This group within XXXX was looking for someone that had a particular level of skill with one of the software products that work heavily with, and as such, they were looking for someone who really was an expert in that particular software. In fact, they were looking for someone that was a CERTIFIED expert in this offering.
Me: What certification were they looking for specifically?
Ralph: They were looking for a VMware Certified Professional, or at least the skill level of someone that would be able to gain the certification rather quickly. I’ve work with VMware for a long time, and in fact I have worked with it for more than then years. But I have not spent much time with in over the past couple of years as I was focusing on another Virtualization technology. You know the saying…use it or lose it! In technology, that saying is so true it hurts.
Me: Seems pretty straight forward to me. What happened? What did you study?
Ralph: This particular company is really known for their hardware. But in reality, when you pull back the layers of the onion they offer so much more. I spent time studying that particular company and their hardware and software offerings. I studied THEIR products…not the VMware specific material. Not that I didn’t think the VMware piece wasn’t important…it was. But I thought it best to be able to talk about any number of topics. As it turns out, that was the one piece I wish I spend more time on. Not because I can’t learn it…I actually knew the answers before, but because I got ONE chance, and I blew it. You know what really stings…they didn’t ask me a single thing about the material that I did spend time reviewing. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Me: So if you had it to do over again, what would you have done differently?
Ralph: Easy…ASK what you should study for the interview. Seriously…I should have just asked what things I should focus on to be ready. They would have shared that with me…I am sure of that. I think at the end of the day when you fly a candidate in for an interview you genuinely want them to do well, and when you are as big of a company as they are and you have so many things to offer it would only make sense for you to share that with the candidate. I know when I interview people I will tell them whatever they want to know before coming to the interview. When I get to the point of calling them to come in for an interview them I am doing so because I WANT to give them the job. Nobody wins in “stump the chump” in the interview process. The other thing I would do is VERIFY how critical specific knowledge is with the recruiter and the people you talk with on the phone before getting on a plane for an interview. I could have saved the company several hundred dollars if I knew ahead of time that VCP-level knowledge was required for the role. I want to respect OPEX as much as they do, but it was also two days of vacation time I took in order to make that trip. We both lost as far as I am concerned. Look, at the end of the day the company has to do what is right for them. It doesn’t matter what I believe I could do for them, what matters is what THEY think I could do for them. I don’t hold any grudges and I am not pissed at them. Interviewing for a job is a privilege, not a right. I wish they had looked at everything I had to offer. My education, my history, my background in IT…everything. In some respects I feel they missed an opportunity to get someone who would do what it takes to get the job done. But they have a business to run and I can’t blame them for that.
Me: If they called you back and said “we’ve reconsidered things. We want to offer you the position as long as you know what is expected of you if you want to keep the job.” Would you take it?
Ralph: Sure, as long as the compensation was where it needed to be, I absolutely would consider them. They are a great company with amazing technology. I might feel like I was “second best” for a time, but you know what, I have been there before. I’ve been the second or even third choice (and I knew it) but I took the job anyway and proved to them I was the right choice.
Me: So, where do you go from here? Have you landed anywhere yet?
Ralph: No, I have not landed anywhere yet. This was Plan A. I got notified today that another role I was interested in closed after the person filling it today decided not to take another position within that company. So where does that leave me? It leaves me exactly where I started…square one. I have a couple of luke-warm leads that I am working on, but nothing that I would be the farm on. Both are great companies and both have a lot to offer…but nothing is set in stone. At the end of the day I need to like what I do for a living. I love technology. I love innovation. I just happen to work for a company that does not fit that bill. That doesn’t make it a bad company, it just means that I am not in the right role for me right now. Any way you cut it though, you can be sure that the next time I interview for a job I will do SO much homework and ask so many questions, there will be absolutely ZERO doubt about what I am getting myself into, and I will make sure the company that I am interviewing with knows exactly what they are getting before they invite me in for the face-to-face interviews. I want to make sure the “marriage” is a good one before we head to the church.