Speak up and be honest!
Two different situations explain why, no matter how desperate one is for a job, interviewing the same way you would if you had the best job in the world, is the difference between getting an offer and not getting one.
As the economy is slowing we were conducting a retained search for a CFO for a small company in Southern California. The company was starting to consider budget cuts. The final two candidates, in the final interview with the president/owner were both asked; “As my CFO, you will lead the cost reduction program, where will you begin?”
Candidate one answered the usual stuff, look at reducing inventory, cutting overtime, review benefits, and require an across the board reduction in the budget, etc. A solid safe answer the president told me.
Candidate two had a more direct and to the point answer for the owner. He looked the president straight in the eye and said, “I would start with your salary and then the rest of the executive team.”
The president later told me, “any CFO that has the guts (he used different anatomical parts) to tell me that directly to my face is the kind of CFO I want.”
On another retained search for a Director of Human Resources, the candidate was interviewing with a large very well-known multinational company. The final interview was a panel interview. In all of the previous interviews she was kept waiting as much as 30 minutes. Prior to the panel interview it was close to 45 minutes.
She was asked in the panel interview “What would be one of the first changes you would make as the Director.” Her answer was; “The way you hire people. The process of letting candidates wait in the lobby for so long is inappropriate and turns good candidates off. In fact, I was ready to walk out just before someone came to meet me.” The panel apologized. They know she was right and had the integrity to tell it to their face.
The new Director of Human Resources later told me she was informed by those on the panel that not one other candidate brought this point up. We both found that to be amazing.
Displaying confidence is a key attribute in the interview. Too often candidates take the easy or safe answer path and miss a great opportunity.
Just be honest. If you are right, and hiring manager doesn’t want to hear it, the bigger question for you is, “Do you want to work for this person?” If they can’t accept the truth now, what will it be like once you come on board?
If you do accept the position I can almost guarantee you, you will end up in the “Circle of Transition.” As our job search workbook and blog article indicates this is not the place anybody wants to be.
I believe this is one of the most important issues for candidates to know, understand and implement in a job search.