This is a post that should be read by everyone at every level of business from junior to very senior executive.
People go on interviews fro all kinds of reasons. I posted that there is no such thing as an informational or networking interview; people who understand that are way ahead of the game.
Let’s start out by saying that when hiring, companies often hire a person who is very different than what their job specs called for and what they had initially conceived of. Companies often refine their specs as they interview, which is perfectly acceptable. It is for that reason that I am writing this post. Of course the obvious reason for interviewing is to get a job. But it goes way beyond that.
The purpose of interviewing, simply put, is for the company and the candidate to gather information about each other. The more information you get, the better informed the decision you can make.
First interviews, generally conducted by human resources professionals, are for the purpose of determining cultural fit (personality and interests) and to make sure that the candidates they see have the skill levels that the job calls for. When a candidate does not get passed on to the hiring manager or next level, it is generally because of a lack of fit or missing skills. (Rarely does HR rule someone out unless there is a valid reason.) In this first interview, candidates should be able to find out a little about the job at hand. But the real information will develop at the next level of interviews, usually with the hiring manager. That is why I am always surprised when candidates see HR and announce to me that they are not interested, even if they are being passed on. It is the wrong time to drop out.
Even after the second interview, if there is interest on the company’s part, candidates should pursue the job and meet successively higher levels of management. If there are unresolved job issues, those questions may be addressed by more senior people.
Of course the purpose of interviewing is to get a job, but the objective of interviewing is to meet the most senior person you can meet.
The most senior people have the ability to address issues and even change the job to fit a job applicant’s needs if they like the candidate enough. I recently published a post talking about the fact that résumés only tell part of the story. I received a comment in which the person said that the senior person saw in him other attributes which were not evident initially and he was hired, probably for jobs he did not apply for. That is reason enough to meet a senior person.
All business is filled with people who were initially hired for jobs or responsibilities that they did not interview for. But this can only happen when the process continues to a logical conclusion with the most senior manager.
Besides, the senior person can influence subsequent hires and may even have friends in other companies to send you to if you are actively looking for a job.