It is safe to say that managers participating in a recruitment process know that they need to prepare themselves once they will meet their future employer. In reality, however, the majority of candidates fail to truly prepare. It is not enough to just read the website of your future employer; a good preparation needs more effort and genuine interest. It goes without saying that you will prepare answers on questions regarding leadership skills, qualifications, working experience, soft skills, change and digital transformation skills etc. But what do you really know about your future employer? Internet is the easy and accessible part: Google, Linked In, corporate website etc. Most candidates stop here. How to gain substantial advantage over the competition?
Know the numbers
Since, as a manager, you will most likely be interviewed by a CEO or a Board member, get your hands on the financial statements of your future employer and learn about the financial performance of the company. Understand the value chain, cashflow, get the feeling about cost and profit ratios, quality of earnings, financial statement ratios, profitability and risk factors. It doesn’t matter if you are specialised in marketing, sales, production, supply chain, human resources or another profession, when you are in the management team financials should be on top of your mind and your interviewers will appreciate your detailed knowledge and questions.
How to learn from consumers, customers and competitors?
Make sure you ask consumers, customers and competitors what they think of your future employer and their brand(s). Check on-line forums, but more important, go into the field and gather ‘real life’ information. We had several candidates in our processes who went to the stores of our client and conducted surveys, checking the customers satisfaction and opinions. Other candidates turned to the competitors of our client and listened to their beliefs and opinions, learning about the opportunities and threats. Use your network and invite experts for a coffee or lunch and dare to ask in-depth questions about the specific industry and the players. There are also industry organisations or agencies that could provide information about your future employers’ industry, should you not be so familiar with it. Last but not least, your executive search consultant should present you a detailed briefing and share valuable insights with you (ask for it!). We interviewed and shortlisted a great marketing candidate that literally rang the doorbell of households to check if they had the brand of our client in their fridge and he was shadowing and talking to buyers in the retail shop making their purchase decision in front of the shelfs. And, yes, he was successfully hired by our client.
Company leaders love to talk about their company and brands and are usually keen to brainstorm. During your investigation, especially with customers and consumers, your mind will be triggered and ideas will pop up. This intelligence would be worth a lot in a later stage when the client for instance wants to simulate a business case with you. We have seen candidates with a bit less developed CV win the job through their relentless enthusiasm, great ideas and motivation, bringing on a genuine business case that couldn’t be ignored.
The grey part
Unfortunately, some interviewers do not always obey the (un)written and ethical rules to avoid questions about age, family situation, remuneration package, pregnancy status, disabilities etc. In case you will be confronted with one of those questions it is fully up to you how to deal with it, but we advise you to give it a thought and prepare the answers that you would like to share, instead of being caught in the heat of the moment.
In conclusion, when it comes to the preparation and gathering of information about your new potential employer, you should be aware that you will have to step out of your comfort zone and go beyond other candidates’ efforts. As an additional benefit during the information gathering and analysis you might feel that your motivation is increasing (or decreasing), which again will influence your performance during the interview with your future employer. Our clients love to meet candidates that as a result of their preparation became passionate about joining their company. In an executive search recruitment process, the employer and our client will not go for the candidate that is leaning backwards and waiting for the offer because he or she has a great CV. Make sure you will have the competitive advantage by doing your homework and prepare in detail.
If you have a question or thought, leave a comment below, and we will do our best to satiate your hunger for knowledge.
‘New Europe Resourcing’s consultants have conducted thousands of executive search interviews and gained valuable insights. Through regular client and candidate surveys we additionally collected a wealth of information.’