After a recent (particularly depressing) informational call for a Leadership position, I thought, I would pen down my thoughts on how an ‘optimal’ first conversation should be.
Some disclaimers: They are in no particular order of importance. These are my opinions. Your mileage may vary – but I would love to hear them, if you have one.
- If you are the Head HR and if you are going to get one of your junior HR folk to call/schedule/email details, please have a template or review the language. Firstly, don’t call it a HR interview (*gasp* and please don’t let the subject line be “Call Letter for HR Interview”). Secondly, it is not an ‘explanatory’ round. It is ‘exploratory’. I am not blaming the poor junior kid. It is up to leadership to ensure the right template is available.
- If this is an informational, please go first and talk about yourself and your company first. Informational does not mean, me going over my bio (while I really don’t have anything against that). I would rather go over some pertinent points if you have any questions (such as – why I left a certain company, or how was the difference in working between company foo1 to foo2 etc).
- Please do not ask me, why I am so pumped up and want to work with your company. For starters, I am not, and hence my request for an informational. Truth be told, an acquaintance of mine thought I might fit your requirements and had forwarded my CV to your CEO. So I think, it is more on you to sell your role to me.
- Immediately after I have told you how much I made in my previous stint, please do not say – “Oh. We do not believe in paying too much upfront. You have to come in and prove yourself and then we will see.” * Ouch *. Really? For starters, this conversation should ideally be the last thing that I should be speaking. Not in the informational.
- If you are evaluation process is — “First we will give you a case study round. If you pass that, then we will get you to speak to our leaders” — sorry, you have already lost me. You do not hire leaders this way. I am all for a case study round. But that is much later (imho).
- Make me feel good. Make me want to learn more about the company. How did the founders start this up? Ask me if I know about all this. Share interesting anecdotes. Give me data about how you are doing. About the diversity of people in the company. And the energy. And I can go on.
- Tell me about the team. Tell me why you joined the team. How much you enjoy working with this team. (And no, please do not use yourself as an example of how you joined without much of a pay hike, and you had to work hard to prove yourself, and then got really good rewards).
- Please be exactly on time. 3-4 minutes late, to me, is not Ok.
- If this is a video Skype call, please do not walk around your home/office/home-office. Yes, your wifi will break. Skype will freeze. And no, I do not want to see your home/offi….
- Lastly, at least, ask me if I have any questions. I sure did have quite a few. But they remain unanswered, and I probably do not want them answered at this point in time.
Find below a template that I put together, that can be used by HR/Leaders to have a first round informational for a prospective leadership hire.
- Say hi, hello. Get to know how the candidate would like to be called. Enquire stability of the internet/phone connection.
- Set the agenda.
- Talk about the company first. History. Team. Anecdotes. People. Funding.
- Talk about the role. Talk about what exists. What you are looking for?
- Ask the candidate for what I have enjoyed in my career journey so far, and what excites the candidate. Ask if there is anything special that stands out in the candidates CV.
- If the candidate already knows about the role — ask how she thinks she fits in for the role. Else, poise a question to ponder over – to get the candidate to think if she might fit the bill.
- Brief the candidate about the interview process and who are the people whom the candidate might be meeting with. Maybe even a bit about the role/position that each of them play.
- Give time for asking questions about the company/about the role.
- Give an opportunity to the candidate to think about this, and ask if the candidate might want to think about all this/digest and then come back – if she wants one more informational round – perhaps with a senior leader, maybe.
- Clearly sign off with a good note. Express that you are looking forward to these series of conversations.
I offer coaching/training on Leadership hiring for Senior leaders and HR. If interested, please ping me on gcmouli at gmail.