During all my years as an IT Professional I have seen both sides of the job interview table several times. Whether on one side or the other, the situation almost always felt uncomfortable. Playing cool, like you don´t need the job or the person for your business. Having many other options, and not to mention negotiating for the best contract for you or your side.
Frustration, dishonesty and standard refusals
That last point sometimes quite overshadowed the professional qualifications of the future employee and/or the company’s culture. In the end, both sides often walked away with only an inkling of an idea of the offer and pre-negotiated on unclear conditions. I felt bad, almost dishonest, as if we had pulled a fast one on someone. Especially sitting on the employer side of the table, receiving a lot of rejections from potential employees who’s expectations don´t fit to the desires of most of the people working in a personnel department. Remember too, it´s not very helpful for the potential employee to get a pre-written standard refusal neither. There was no sign of valuable feedback to improve the whole process. And even if that was actually done positively, we also need to talk about the first day(s) at the new company. For that topic, take a look at the article by Dirk Maucher “Why the first working day in the new job is particularly important“ (German)
Start a dialogue with the right people
But for now, let´s talk about my “job interview” at NovaTec – which in fact I don´t want to call an job interview* at all – the situation was completely different. The first contact and conversation was with the competence area manager – not someone from the personnel department. No documents, certificates or big agenda. The goal was a first casual get to know each other based on work, projects, companies and last but not least it was face to face. I felt appreciated getting that much time from someone who has little time to spare. Also one of the first things he said was: “There on the wall, that’s our delegation board. Can you see that I won’t be hiring someone without having the OK from my team? They will call you for a chat – if they use their veto, I can´t do anything for you. These are the people you will work with, so they have an equal part in the decision on who is invited to join our team.” That was stunning for me. The outcome of this first talk was a clear understanding in what my future position in this particular team could be, and what the financial conditions are. Full transparency. I had a good talk, and left the meeting simply happy. No “buts”.
Let the team decide
The next step, the team chat, was also a tremendous difference in all dimensions you could think of in a hiring situation (remember, I don´t like the term “interview”). Imagine, 75% of your highly capable team investing over half a day not earning money, but talking with only one person who wants to join your company. And again, it did not feel like an assessment, or an exam, and definitely not like a negotiation. Basically, it felt like on a night out, when you get to know someone you haven’t met before.
Get to know each other – and learn
Everyone attending shares something from their life, their business experience, their personal values and their interests and hobbies. You might find similarities in beliefs, or the same out of work interests. You get to ask questions about what they are doing and answer some yourself about your last projects. At the end of the time together there is a team vote followed by a feedback round. The focus is not about signing a contract. The focus is about sharing open, honest feedback to understand if there is a good fit in both directions. Both parties have the ability to freely and openly share their observations on what can be improved, including how the session could be held in the future. How often have you provided feedback to an “interviewer” on how the “interview” could be improved in the future? The process is designed to hone valuable two-way feedback. After six hours – including an informal lunch – all participants have a clear understanding and a somewhat accurate idea of who the other person or people are. It provides a picture for everyone involved on how working together as a team could potentially be.
In my personal case, as you can probably guess, it was a double “Yes!” – yes from the team, and yes from me – and the formalities of signing the prepared contract were done the very same day.
You want to know…
…how the story continues at NovaTec? Come to our Leadership conference “Learn & Lead” on October 9th in Stuttgart. This year’s topic is “Realtime Leadership”. Some tickets are still available here. To look further behind the scenes from the “First day” at Novatec don´t forget to read my colleague Dirk Maucher´s blog post “Why the first working day in the new job is particularly important“ (German)
*Job Interview: One or more people asking questions, one is answering. I prefer the term “get to know someone like during a night out”.