How To Appreciate the Art and Science of Recruiting
By Jeri Medrea
It’s 9:55 a.m. In five minutes, you have an interview with me to discuss a position at BearingPoint. In another time, the interview would take a predictable turn: you would inquire about job responsibilities, vacation and 401(k) benefits, as well as possible work-life balance issues. I might ask the dreaded “where-do-you-see-yourself-in-five-years” question, and you would answer it with something appropriately enthusiastic. In other words, we’d waste a lot of time we both could be using to do other things.
Not today. The recruiting process is different now. You’re the crème de la crème — entrepreneurial, innovative, tenacious — that’s why my company wants you. My job isn’t just to evaluate you, but to discuss with you how well you might fit into BearingPoint. Your résumé got you the interview, and now it’s time for us to see if we are a good match.
Let me explain it another way. The interview process is no longer just the “science” of simply deciding if your professional skills match the job description. It’s also assessing whether you will personally fit into the company’s collaborative, fast-moving entrepreneurial culture. And, just as important, whether that culture meets your personal and professional needs. It’s a two-way street. This is what I call the “art” of recruiting, and it’s just as important as the traditional side of the equation – determining if you have the required experience and skill set.
I want to share with you my thoughts on how you can benefit from understanding the art and science of recruiting:
Push the envelope. Corporate America is noticeably different than it was 10 years ago. Your questions should be innovative and current. Don’t give me the textbook questions. Ask about our client results, our approach to the market, what makes our people different. What are we doing to make Corporate America a better place? What are we doing to improve work-life balance? Your questions give me insight into what is important to you.
Pass the first-three-minute test. It’s a cliché, but first impressions do count. Be on time or even a little early. Show that you’ve spent significant time researching the company. I’ve interviewed candidates who haven’t even bothered to learn about the company. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t know the facts about my company, then that tells me you don’t really want to be here.
Tell your story. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve heard every cliché. I don’t want to hear that you are “motivated” or a “team player.” Anecdotally share your experiences. Tell me about that difficult project you successfully managed: What did it take? Tell me how you productively collaborated with a difficult coworker: What did you do? Personally, if I can’t get past the canned remarks — if I can’t break through — the interview is over. Real-life stories are very powerful.
Last year I needed to fill a key spot that had so far taken more than six months — and many interviews. I was getting discouraged. I wanted to love every candidate who walked through the door, but that wasn’t happening. Then the right one showed up. She engaged in great eye contact, was relaxed but confident, and was knowledgeable about the company and position. She asked all the right questions: What’s the climate in the office? Are we a pay-for-performance culture? Her résumé had already shown me that her education and experience made her technically qualified for the job, but what made her different was her attitude, her comfort with herself, and her insightful questions.
She got the job. I hope you do, too.
About the author
Jeri Medrea is Director of Talent Acquisition at BearingPoint, a management and technology consultants firm.