The Top 5: Reasons to “Just Talk to Them!”
The Information from a 10-Minute Conversation May Surprise You
You may have heard you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but aren’t you supposed to judge a candidate by their resume? They say a tiger can’t change its stripes but what do you do when a company says it’s turned over a new leaf? And what was it they said assumptions would do to you and me? If you’re job hunting or looking to hire, it’s time to throw out the old adages and stick with a new one: “Just talk to them!”
There is so much more to a candidate than their past job titles and employment dates. We’ve had clients tell us there’s no way a candidate will be happy with this job only to end up celebrating their work anniversary years later. A company’s culture and goals can change with new managers or owners. We’ve had candidates swear up and down they won’t work with a company, only to have them swooning after an interview with the new director. In short, you’d be surprised what you can learn from a simple 10-minute conversation:
- The practical. Can they call into an appointment on time? Can they show respect for your time by not going over the scheduled 10 minutes? If they have to reschedule, can they do that clearly? Can they think strategically to make sure their phone call was in a quiet place with good reception? Can they deal with technical difficulties with patience? You can easily answer a dozen questions about an employer or candidate within the first few minutes.
- The questionable. Can they prepare and ask good questions? Can they engage with your answers? Can they answer your own questions? Can they expand on their answers if you ask? Consider their answers carefully. And remember you can tell a lot about a person or company by the questions they ask – questions reveal their concerns, values and focus for the conversation. While questions left unasked may offer other insights such as their disinterest in you/your company or their ignorance/lack of preparation.
- The technical. Do they know much about the company and what it does? Do they understand basic industry terminology? Can they keep up with you if you discuss new technologies or sales strategies? Can they give relevant examples from their experience about common situations? Ten minutes isn’t enough time for a thorough assessment but you can suss out a candidate or manager’s baseline competency fairly quickly.
- The personal and personnel. Can they explain what they want out of their job? Can they tell you what they want for their company or department? Can they offer more insight to their job history than names and dates? Can they tell you more about the job than the bare-bones job description? Can they communicate passion, interest or investment in the work you’re both discussing? Can they relate to you and you to them? Can you connect? Do you know anyone in common? Can they describe their company culture? You don’t have to love what you do but liking the work and/or the people you work with certainly helps with job satisfaction and employee turnover.
- The “vibe.” Can you see yourself working with this person? When you talk, can they listen? Can you tell if they’re being consistent and forthright? No, this is not an exact science. But there is undoubtedly plenty of subtle or unconscious information you can get from a conversation. Bear in mind that your gut instinct should not be the sole factor considered. If you go with your gut too often, you’ll reveal your unconscious biases. That’s how employers end up hiring 30 people just like themselves because they “have a good feeling about this one.” Our best advice when using your gut is trust but verify.