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Systems Alliance Blog

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Keyword: job interviews

No job imageOn a number of organizational design and CIO advisory projects, I’ve had the opportunity to help screen and evaluate candidates for jobs ranging from entry level support to IT Directors. When I am in the office, I am occasionally able to participate in screening candidates for open positions here at SAI. (Shameless plug: We are hiring.)

In the recruiting world, candidates are divided into two separate, yet equally important groups: the well-qualified and thoughtful who are ready to bring value to the team and. . .the others who leave interviewers confused and whose bizarre behavior always comes up at happy hour.

These are their stories as shared by members of our team:

  1. During a phone interview, one of our VPs was put on hold by a candidate so she could take a personal call. After a long pause, she came back on the line to continue the interview. There was no second phone screen.
  2. A candidate for a client showed up 20 minutes late, started banging on the glass door instead of using the courtesy phone, and followed it up by being rude to our office manager. This hat trick of bad decisions led to a very, very short interview.
  3. Following an interview that clearly went off the rails, a candidate invited our CEO and me out for drinks the next time we were in town. The offer was declined but we did check one bar out on yelp.
  4. While screening for a client, one candidate spent 10 minutes explaining how terrible all of his former employers were. If that red flag wasn’t enough for us, the liberal use of F-bombs throughout the call was.
  5. One of our VPs had a candidate fail to show up on time for an interview. After calling her and sending an email, she showed up out of the blue two hours later. No explanation was given and she still expected to be interviewed.
  6. We tend to “Google” candidates to get some info on them before they come in. One candidate, fairly junior, had a pretty open social media profile which included lots of drunken party photos and posts about getting high.
  7. When asked what his technical interests were, a candidate struggled to explain what he’d written on his application. He did however spend 10 minutes talking about how much he likes playing in a mariachi band. I am still unclear if this was an episode of Punk’d.

Got a horror story of your own? E-mail me at mstirling@systemsalliance.com. We’ve got enough material to make this a recurring blog post series but would love to get more gems!

Job Interview Prep ImageOur software business is booming, our consulting practices are growing and our team is rapidly expanding. We’re planning to hire about two dozen new team members in 2016. What could be better?

At SAI, we’re laser-focused on identifying high potential candidates who are interested in learning, growing and earning more. We recruit candidates who have just graduated with computer science, design and business degrees, and we recruit experienced hires who bring with them the skills and expertise to help us grow fast. The common denominator on our team is the inner drive to be something more: more capable, more competent, more comfortable, more effective in helping our clients be successful. . .more.

I have interviewed thousands of candidates over the past 35 years and I am seeing more and more folks show up for interviews unprepared. We see the recruiting process as bi-directional. Will this candidate perform well in the current role and can they grow with us? And, just as importantly, is SAI a great fit from the candidate’s point of view?

Unfortunately, we’re not getting to those meaty interview discussions frequently these days, because candidates are coming in unprepared for the interview. Deciding where you want to spend a large chunk of your work day is a momentous decision. Shouldn’t you spend at least as much time prepping for an interview as you do investigating new car options?

We want you to bring your “game winning” persona to your interviews at SAI. In that spirit, here are some suggestions:

Do your homework. Would you fly to another country on vacation without doing any research? Go to our websites (www.systemsalliance.com, www.acadia-software.com); learn more about what we do, how we work with clients. Come with questions! You will undoubtedly be asked to describe what you think we do at some point in the interview process (there are no right or wrong answers) and not being able to respond will indicate that you didn’t care enough about the interview to do some research.

If you’ve gotten to the interview stage, we’ve already done some research on you. We’ve studied your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and other social networking or media sites you’ve used. Invest time in ensuring that your resume is in great shape, and that your LinkedIn profile and other online information provides enough detail for us to understand how your skills and experience line up against the position description.

Early is on time; on time is late; late is. . .unprofessional. Late without a phone call is disrespectful. Arrive early and have a cup of coffee across the street at Wegmans or Panera. It’s less stressful and you’ll have time to look around a bit and decide if this is an area where you would like to work.

Bring samples of your work with you. Samples of your code, design work, writing, client deliverables and examples of your successes (and failures) are a great way to show off your capabilities, discuss past experiences and lessons learned. If you are a recent graduate, bring along samples or documentation of your favorite college project.

Be prepared to discuss how your capabilities and experience maps to the position. Checklists are a great way to organize your thoughts ahead of the interview. Clearly articulating how you line up with the position and acknowledging any gaps will make the process easier for all of us. On more than one occasion, we’ve interviewed a candidate who didn’t necessarily fit the position description and we’ve been able to refer the candidate to someone else in our network who has subsequently extended an offer.

Ask questions! We are extremely proud of our team and our culture. Ask about how we work with clients, how we work with one another. You’ll know quickly whether SAI is a place where you’ll be happy for years to come.

We all benefit from lining up the best candidates with the right roles. Happier team members, better service to our clients and community; it’s all good. Let’s work together on this and see what we can accomplish together.

I look forward to meeting you soon in an interview at SAI.

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