Some time ago I was filling a job for a small company and I brought in Alex to meet with the Hiring Manager (Marlys) and her boss Ron. Alex had a great resume and had done a nice job in the phone interview of relating his skills to the company and to the broader industry. I had high hopes for him.
He showed up for the interview dressed appropriately and with samples of his work. So far so good. He met with Ron first and then Marlys. After he left we got together to debrief and I heard two totally different perspectives.
In his interview with Ron he did a fantastic job. He was insightful and compelling. He was curious - prepared with dozens of questions about the company and future directions. He left Ron with a very good impression. However, in his interview with Marlys he was brief with his answers and had no questions for her.
I was puzzled by the apparent contradiction in his behavior, but things became more clear when Ron received the following e-mail (which was cc'd to myself and Marlys) from Alex the next morning:
"Thank you so much for the chance to come in and meet with you. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. It sounds like ABC Co. is headed in a very favorable direction under your leadership and I would like to be part of your winning team...etc."
Apparently, Alex doesn't understand the old Southern saying "Dance with the one what brung ya!" - which essentially means to be true to the person you are with. He was so busy kissing up to Ron during and after the interview process that he neglected to pay proper attention to the Marlys - the one who would be his boss if he got the job. Alex should have come prepared with a list of questions for Marlys about her leadership style, her vision for the position, and what she hoped the new person could accomplish. He may have asked Ron those same questions, but that was no excuse for showing no attention to Marlys during his interview with her.
I don't know if Alex made this error because:
- He routinely blows off women in the workplace, or
- When his interview with Bob went so well, he assumed he had the job in the bag and could relax, or
- He's a conniving jerk who will work around others whenever and however he can to promote himself.
Frankly, it doesn't matter. Ron respects Marlys' judgment and values her as a member of his team. He wasn't about to hire someone who would blow her off like that.
So next time you go into an interview situation, make sure you are professional and polite to everyone you meet, and be sure to dance with the one what brung ya!