Do you love me?  Will you love me forever…?

I am amazed at how many people forget that an interview is a “personal selling” situation! Obviously I don’t mean jumping up and down and doing a raw-raw sis-boom-bah chant but I do mean turning in your best effort AND asking for the job at the end.  Just the other day I witnessed a candidate not get an opportunity because the employer didn’t think they where all that interested OR at least, “not as interested as another candidate”.

When I asked what the employer meant by that statement

[because the prospective candidate had professed his interest to me – very enthusiastically after the interview] the employer explained it like this.  The choice between who would be the next VP of Sales for this company literally came down to a coin toss – the talent match was that close.  They had two outstanding individuals to choose from and they literally could not make up their mind.  What broke the tie? “The younger candidate seemed to want it more'” my client said. When I asked him how he came to that conclusion he said that Candidate “A” said when he was leaving the client office for the airport, “I had a great day and it appears we both have a lot to think about.”  Seems innocent enough doesn’t it. Whereas Candidate “B” said, “I’m glad you invited me down to meet the rest of the management team because I’m even more convinced now that this is the right opportunity for me”.

The Courtship Dance Of Two Trumpeter Swans

Now, in truth neither had made up their mind that it was indeed the right opportunity BUT the second one closed the deal and told the client they where interested – very interested, whereas the first was non-committal.  Can you see the difference?

Let me explain it another way.  Perhaps this has happened to you. Could be it’s just me again… Do you remember the awkward moment when you told someone you loved them for the first time?  If – as was the case with me – their face contorted with an ‘oh no what do I say now’ expression then you appreciate the awkward emotional vacuum I’m talking about.  Well let me tell you, employers experience the same thing. After courting a candidate for weeks or months there’s nothing worse for them than telling a candidate “we love you” or “you’re our top pick” only to have them say… “I have to think about this…”. It’s like NOT saying I love you too! And believe me it matters. I know.

I know it’s not just about what the employer wants BUT remember the first Rule of Job Hunting… It’s not about you.

How might this have been avoided?

Bottom line is this guerrilla.  You have the right to do your due diligence on the employer at your own pace.  It would be nice if it matched their pace but likely it won’t. Know this, you never and I mean never ever let them see you’re still thinking about it. It doesn’t strengthen your bargaining position to play hard to get BEFORE YOU GET THE OFFER.  In front of the employer you should always be “in love”.  You close and close and close until you get the offer then hopefully you tell them what they want to hear.  AND this applies at all levels.  In this instance it was a $300K position.  I’m used to seeing this at the $50-$80k level and not in executives but as I said it doesn’t take much to tip the decision in the other guys favor.

So moral of the story is do your do diligence behind the scenes as you go through the process and don’t forget to tell them “I love you too”  even if you’re not 100% sure yet.