Image via WikipediaI’ve wanted to write this post for the past two months, but have held off so as to protect the innocent. You see, I’ve spent a significant amount of time lately reviewing and interviewing candidates for a Product Manager (Welcome Scott!!!!) role on my team. This is a time consuming job in the best of times, but much more so now - there are a LOT of people looking for jobs.
What’s been especially frustrating in this process are the people who make it to the initial phone interview and are unprepared.
My first question is always, “Based on your research, what do you think are our biggest challenges?” I can’t tell you how many educated, experienced people told me they really didn’t know much about our company so they couldn’t answer the question. Look, I’m not expecting them to have insider’s information – I just want to get a sense for their business savvy (especially since my follow up question is always, “how would you solve that challenge?”).
I’ll be honest - I find it insulting and disrespectful of my time to come to an interview that unprepared, and if you can’t answer that question, you probably aren’t getting into the second round. With the Internet, there really is no excuse for not knowing what we do, with whom we compete, who we list as customers, etc. (this is far easier than calling up companies and asking for their annual reports, which is what I was taught to do in college!)
I thought about these encounters the other day at our 2009 sales and marketing kick off meeting. Our sales team has been organized by industry segment for the past 3-4 years, and it makes so much sense (I really don’t know why so many software companies organize by geography). When our sales reps get on a call with a prospect, they are prepared to discuss the relevant regulations, laws, challenges, etc. that a company in that segment would face. They are able to offer concrete evidence of how we can help mitigate those challenges, including a litany of customers just like them who have successfully used our technology in their daily lives. In short, they can have a valuable conversation right off the bat, rather than wasting the time of the person on the other end of the phone!
Watch for the changes in the way we market coming soon – and let me know if you ever feel I’m wasting your time!