Got an interesting question from a reader today...
Dear Career Encourager:
So a guy tells me yesterday he knows of someone who might want to hire me. Okay, I say: tell me more. So he tells me a little more, but mostly says he's not entirely sure himself what his friend needs. I give the guy my contact info to pass on to his friend. Who doesn't call. Instead, today, I get a call from the HR guy in a company I've never heard of who wants to schedule an interview, and wonders if I've sent them my resume yet?
Whoa. I'm as adventurous as the next guy, but clearly I've missed a few steps here. I don't even know the name of the "friend" at the company who is my supposed contact there. Pumping the poor HR guy too much didn't seem likely to help much, either. Nor do any of the jobs advertised on their website (which I peruse AFTER the phone call, once I knew the company's name.)
The obvious thing is to get a little more info (like a NAME?!) from the guy I spoke to yesterday, but I can't get hold of him, and the interview is, like, tomorrow. Can I call them back and ask who I'll be talking to, and what about? (how stupid does THAT sound!) Or do I show up, treat it as an informational interview, and see what happens?
Dear Emily –
Interesting situation. A question back at you:
What is the role of the person who called you to set up the interview?
You referred to him as “the HR guy.” Most HR professionals I know work as business partners within their organization and are focused on the structures, systems and processes that help people perform well. With regard to hiring, this means that the true HR professional is going to be concerned with:
- Helping define jobs (duties, skills, and compensation) that fit logically into the organizations structure and will boost company performance
- Sourcing candidates likely to be a good match for the position, company culture, and work team
- Attracting top tier candidates via a high quality recruiting processes – e.g., a professional phone screen, a well run interview, good follow-up, etc.
The fact that “the poor HR guy” you spoke to was so vague makes me wonder if he is:
- A scheduler for one of those headhunting firms who place candidates for a fee. If so, stay away – you never want a job that you have to pay to get.
- A scheduler for a large recruiting department in a sales firm that has high churn among their employees.
- A “poor HR guy” in a poorly run, or start-up firm without professional HR processes in place.
Obviously, situations #1 and #2 probably don’t appeal to you. Situation #3 could mean opportunity, but you’d probably want to know a bit more before going in for the interview. If you cannot reach your original contact to find out what is going on, I would call “poor HR guy” back and say something like: “I’d like to do some prep work for our meeting tomorrow and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions? Since I didn’t send in a resume or apply for a specific position, I was wondering if you could tell me about the position I am interviewing for? What is the title? Do you have a job description you can e-mail to me? Who does it report to? Etc.”
If he can’t answer these very basic questions, I would start to get suspicious whether you are talking to a professional HR person. At a minimum, he should be able to refer you to someone who can answer them.
If his answer is, “Just come in and we will tell you all about it…” It’s up to you whether or not to go and check it out. Personally, I wouldn’t. It’s simply not a respectful, professional way to treat a candidate. The good firms would never do it that way. There are too many good opportunities in good, professional firms for a positive, contributing professional like yourself to waste time in a confusing mess like that.
Situations like this are so interesting. Please do let me know what you find out and what happens!
~ The Career Encourager