Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adventures in Recruiting: Cross Purpose Interview

Before I was well established and known as a recruiter, I had a really amusing incident, which is worth describing.

I had been recruiting about two months and I got a call from a senior account manager.  He said to me, “I hear you can work on anything.  If that is true, I could use your help.”
I was delighted.  It meant that in just a short time my reputation as a recruiter had spread and people were now calling me.  Of course, with great enthusiasm I told him that I would love to work with him and would like to meet him.  It was and has been my policy to try to meet all the people I work for, not just my candidates.

I have always had the belief that I should know and understand the culture and casting of my client companies.  I made a date to go visit with him the following morning.

I showed up a couple of minutes early so I could observe the reception area, see who was coming and going and get a feel for the agency. It was an agency I knew by reputation, but had never known anyone there.  Obviously, this would be my first assignment with them.

Because I had only recently started recruiting I did not have a great presentation on myself. I still used my advertising résumé and biography accompanied by a single page sheet explaining my recruiting philosophy.

When I was brought in to his office, he asked for my résumé.

Him: “This is for an account supervisor spot.”

Me: “Not a problem.  I can work on anything.”

Him: “I heard that.  That is why you are here.  This is a difficult account.  The client is very demanding.  I need someone who is able to deal with a client who can sometimes be a bit, shall we say, nasty.”
Me: “Well, I once had a client punch me.” [True]

Him: “I would like to hear that story but I am a little rushed for time.  Have you ever worked in the hospitality business?  I don’t see it on your résumé.”  

Me: “You tell me what kind of background you are looking for and I will find that person for you.”

Him: “Does that mean you are not interested in the job for yourself.”

Me: “I am a recruiter and I came to see you to get job specs.  I think we have a misunderstanding.   I am not interested in this job for myself, but I know people who might be great for you.”

Him: “I thought you were a candidate. Although your resume looked a bit senior for this job.   I have never had a recruiter come see me before.”

Now I thought that was amusing, but here is the best part.  About two weeks later, I was called by a senior vice president who was running a piece of business at an agency where I had worked for many years running the same account.  He knew who I was and what I was doing.  He told me he wanted to hire someone and had heard what I was doing so he thought I would  be a natural to help fill the job.  I asked to meet him.

Walking in to those offices was like old home week.   There were still many people I knew there and I was greeted with open arms, so to speak.

I spent about ten minutes with the person who was a senior vice president, the same title I had had.  He gave me the job specs and I because I had worked on the account, I completely understood who and what he wanted.  Not a problem.  I knew his issues before he even described the job.

Then, he got up from his desk, walked over to the door and closed it.  He walked back to his desk and handed me his résumé.  “Now interview me.  I hate this place.”

It has actually happened to me several times since.  And I have had a number of people come to my offices for an interview prior to starting a job hunt who, in turn, proceeded to give me a job search assignment.

Recruiting can be a very amusing business.

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