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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Jeff the Green's Avatar

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    Default I have an interview with the top brass

    I got called back for a second interview next week, and I'm looking for advice. I'll be meeting with the potential direct boss, her boss, the CFO, and the CEO. This is a small organization (<50 people) and apparently very tight nit, so it's not as intimidating as if I were applying to, say, Nike, but I'm still a bit freaked out and want advice. The position is, to avoid super-identifying stuff, a non-managerial position that involves training teachers in science curriculum, developing that curriculum, and day-to-day operation of the program.

    So, yeah, I need advice. I've never had an interview with upper management involved since I've never worked at a particularly high level or small organizations, so I'm not entirely sure what I should do differently. I really want this job more than any others I've seen, so I'd like to ace the interview.


    Interviews coming up; I'll be a bit absent for a while.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Be respectful but not brown-nosey. And calm down, they're just people. They'll like you better if you seem likeable and not uptight and terrified. If they say a joke, chuckle and don't be afraid to make one or two yourself if that's your thing. So long as they aren't bigoted or too self deprecating.

    Ultimately, you're trying to sell yourself to them, so try and make the product seem desirable.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Don't just answer questions like a good sheep, engage in dialogue.

    Q: "Did you ever use the McMasterPro 9000 tool?"

    Sheep answer: "Yes, for the two years I was at BigCorp" - after which you clam down and sheepishly look at your interviewer awaiting the next question.

    Dialogue answer: "I got a lot of work done with the McMasterPro 9000 at BigCorp. It's a nice tool, although it has its quirks. I would guess you mostly use it for typeset building?" - now you have engaged the interviewer.

    (the actual content of the example is of course nonscentical, but you get the idea)

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    For small operations they have to be more careful who they hire - not merely from a competence level but also from a 'how you fit the team' element (almost certainly why the higher ups are meeting you).
    As you don't know the team I would advise you to largely be yourself - if you misrepresent who you are as a person you are setting yourself up for a miserable few months as they hire you without you fitting in.

    Separately again for a small organisation act under your own direction, they will not have the time for management to hold your hand in the job the way that larger organisations might and HR will also be a small team (and possibly double jobbing), they need to know that if you can do something you will do it, and if you can't do something that you will flag it early and pick up instruction quickly.

    Finally if they are ambitious they will be looking for people that are likely to be able to step up in a few months/years, both to train new hires and potentially act as backup for management when your immediate boss is on holidays/sick etc with a longer term focus on moving up to management.
    This is a tricky one - come across too ambitious and they think you will leave in a few months to get a better job, not ambitious enough and they will think that you might not care about progressing your career and thereby not suitable for there own ambitions. Again I would be honest with them here on your career goals.

    And as others have said they are people like yourself subject to whatever variables your community works with you want them to think 'that person seemed competent, and I wouldn't mind going for a drink with them after work. Yea they should fit in nicely'.

    Without knowing you, the company etc, etc that is about the best set of advice I have for meeting top company heads for interviews.

    As a note - they might bring in some other people at the level you will be at to quiz you and get a feel for working with you, don't panic if that happens these are your perspective colleagues the only two things they care about are 1) will this person cause me additional work 2) will this person annoy me. So again you want to leave them with 'that person seemed competent, and I wouldn't mind going for a drink with them after work. Yea they should fit in nicely'.

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrilis View Post
    Finally if they are ambitious they will be looking for people that are likely to be able to step up in a few months/years, both to train new hires and potentially act as backup for management when your immediate boss is on holidays/sick etc with a longer term focus on moving up to management.
    This is a tricky one - come across too ambitious and they think you will leave in a few months to get a better job, not ambitious enough and they will think that you might not care about progressing your career and thereby not suitable for there own ambitions. Again I would be honest with them here on your career goals.
    I think this is an important point that should be expanded, especially since Jeff mentioned that he really, really wants that job.

    Genereally speaking, people who like their work do a good job, so it's always nice to hire someone who is genuinely motivated. Thus, you should make sure that you're able to articulate your enthusiam for the position honestly and without going over the top. It's likely that the question of why you want the job will come up during the interview. Being able to answer this in a way that makes it clear that you are motivated without making any presumptions about the work environment that may or may not be true, will go a long way to showing that you're serious about it. IN cases where you're unsure about how they do things, it helps to be interested and ask questions yourself, as Ruslan mentioned, since it shows that you're not just waiting to be assigned a task but are actively thinking about how you can fit in.
    Last edited by aspi; 2015-06-13 at 04:00 AM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrilis View Post
    For small operations they have to be more careful who they hire - not merely from a competence level but also from a 'how you fit the team' element (almost certainly why the higher ups are meeting you).
    As you don't know the team I would advise you to largely be yourself - if you misrepresent who you are as a person you are setting yourself up for a miserable few months as they hire you without you fitting in.

    Separately again for a small organisation act under your own direction, they will not have the time for management to hold your hand in the job the way that larger organisations might and HR will also be a small team (and possibly double jobbing), they need to know that if you can do something you will do it, and if you can't do something that you will flag it early and pick up instruction quickly.

    Finally if they are ambitious they will be looking for people that are likely to be able to step up in a few months/years, both to train new hires and potentially act as backup for management when your immediate boss is on holidays/sick etc with a longer term focus on moving up to management.
    This is a tricky one - come across too ambitious and they think you will leave in a few months to get a better job, not ambitious enough and they will think that you might not care about progressing your career and thereby not suitable for there own ambitions. Again I would be honest with them here on your career goals.

    And as others have said they are people like yourself subject to whatever variables your community works with you want them to think 'that person seemed competent, and I wouldn't mind going for a drink with them after work. Yea they should fit in nicely'.

    Without knowing you, the company etc, etc that is about the best set of advice I have for meeting top company heads for interviews.

    As a note - they might bring in some other people at the level you will be at to quiz you and get a feel for working with you, don't panic if that happens these are your perspective colleagues the only two things they care about are 1) will this person cause me additional work 2) will this person annoy me. So again you want to leave them with 'that person seemed competent, and I wouldn't mind going for a drink with them after work. Yea they should fit in nicely'.
    I recruit and interview people for my division in a company which almost exactly fits the OP's description (though there's a slight difference, the company I'm working on is a branch of a much larger company, but each branch is largely independent of each others).

    And this pretty much nails it. Especially this part.

    And as others have said they are people like yourself subject to whatever variables your community works with you want them to think 'that person seemed competent, and I wouldn't mind going for a drink with them after work. Yea they should fit in nicely'.

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    Jeff the Green's Avatar

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    And calm down, they're just people.
    Yeah, I'm working on that. I'll be fine once I'm in the room; I just get all my worrying in ahead of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by dancrilis View Post
    Finally if they are ambitious they will be looking for people that are likely to be able to step up in a few months/years, both to train new hires and potentially act as backup for management when your immediate boss is on holidays/sick etc with a longer term focus on moving up to management.
    This is a tricky one - come across too ambitious and they think you will leave in a few months to get a better job, not ambitious enough and they will think that you might not care about progressing your career and thereby not suitable for there own ambitions. Again I would be honest with them here on your career goals.
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. It definitely seems like an ambitious organization, actually, even if the individuals aren't enormously ambitious. (Though, really, you don't get to be CEO of any organization without a healthy ambition.) It seems to be run basically like a Silicon Valley startup, just with a metric other than profit. I'll work on that; one of the things I don't think I did well on in the first interview was when they asked me how the job fit into my career plans. I hope they ask me again, and I'll work on my response.

    Any suggestions on how to formulate it? I'm not going to lie and say I plan to work there for the next 40 years—aside from the fact that I can't see the future, it's just unrealistic nowadays—but like you said, I don't want to make them think I'm going to start looking for my next job in a matter of months.


    Interviews coming up; I'll be a bit absent for a while.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    I suggest coming across as just as ambitious as you actually are.

    If they can't accomodate your level of ambition (either offering too little or demanding too much) you're better off not working there anyway.

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    Jeff the Green's Avatar

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Well, yes, but the trick is putting it into words. Right now my best formulation is that I'm not going to lie and say that I plan on staying with the organization for the next 40 years, but this is the field and the sort of work I can see myself doing for a very long time, and assuming the organization gives me opportunities to grow and take on more responsibility, I can see myself doing it there.


    Interviews coming up; I'll be a bit absent for a while.

    Greenman by Bradakhan/Spring Greenman by Comissar

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    You don't need to be job specific when talking about career plans. Saying something like you want to increase your technical proficiency and then move up towards managerial and leadership positions in the future. If that's what you want. If you prefer to stay in technical work you can still emphasize your willingness to take on leadership roles, which is the usual indication of ambition that employers like.

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Any suggestions on how to formulate it?
    I don't know what age you are - but rough guide is to that your age divide it by ten round up add one (28/10= 2.8, round to 3 add 1 equals 4, 31/10=3 roundup is 4 add 1 for 5. Yes made up this minute).
    Outside of that time you frankly don't have any idea what your personal goals are - will you have a house?, will you have kids*?, will your signifiant other at the time want to travel the world? ... who knows? Probably not you.

    *If you have them now assume you still will.

    As such if you mention your 40 year plan you are only fooling yourself - and you will be the only one at the table you are fooling.

    As such formulate your life plan for the next few years, and base your career on that - if you have a long term partner already and want to settle down mention it (that adds stability to you in there eyes and makes you seem human and unlikely to cause office relationship issues), if you know that you want to travel the world before you hit age X mention it only if it naturally comes up in the conversation (it decreases stability), if you like being in charge of people mention it only if you have prior examples were you were in charge of others and what you liked about it (just saying you think you would be good at it without support from stories implies that you think those you worked for before were bad at it).

    What does the company do? What do you want to learn? How will learning that help you? - I am not asking but they are questions that you should have the answer to.

    Am important point is that you are (likely) human, as such work should not be the be all and end all of your life (frankly mine is a lot of the time - but I don't tell employeers that) if you claim it is they will think you are lying or insane.

    To start to wrap up, I should have mentioned above: They are not just interviewing you, you are also interviewing them - it is their job to make you think that the company is the best one ever so you want to work there. As such take the bait they offer ask how they do things, ask what they want to do over the next two years etc, it shows you are interested in them (and read up positive things about them to ask about) and gets them to do the work.

    So in brief:
    Appear human with personal goals outside of work.
    Appear intellegent with career aims that the job would assist with.
    Speak positively about the company and direct questions to them to make them do some of the work.
    Don't try to pretend that you are looking for a 40 year job (if you are looking for that be casual about it).

    Also:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    one of the things I don't think I did well on in the first interview was when they asked me how the job fit into my career plans.
    Remember that you did do well (comparative to your competation) in the first interview that is the only reason you have a second one, so when improving your answers don't contradict yourself (without drawing attention to it yourself at the least - but really I would avoid it).

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Right now my best formulation is that I'm not going to lie
    Advice: avoid using negative words such as "lie", even if preceeded with a negation. It creates a negative impression, like Nixon's famous "I'm not a crook". What part did people remember from that phrase? Crook. He should have said "I'm an honest man".


    I'm not going to lie and say that I plan on staying with the organization for the next 40 years, but this is the field and the sort of work I can see myself doing for a very long time, and assuming the organization gives me opportunities to grow and take on more responsibility, I can see myself doing it there
    This is it. That's the answer right there. Say just exactly this, and you're golden.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Research the company even more. If they've been mentioned in a news article, you want to know what was said. If the CEO was quoted, study the quote.

    The goal is to be knowledgeable about the company, and to speak in their language.

    And treat them like any other interviewers.

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    So, how did the interview go?

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    Default Re: I have an interview with the top brass

    Well, I think. One of the questions tripped me up—"Is there any question you wish we'd asked you?"—and I had to just say I couldn't think of any. I haven't heard anything yet, but I don't expect to for at least a couple more days.


    Interviews coming up; I'll be a bit absent for a while.

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