Your hiring manager may be distracted, but she isn’t stupid

Ah, the mansplain. Here’s how I feel about that:

frustrated angry baboon

Mansplaining has no place in an interview

Or really anywhere for that matter.

Your hiring manager may be distracted, but she isn’t stupid. Maybe you’ve worked in healthcare for 20 years and speak frequently at industry conferences. Or maybe you’ve tested every ed tech product out there. Or maybe you’re deeply familiar with every renewable energy company in the Bay Area. Good for you! This will give you a leg up.

Now put it aside and assume that your hiring manager understands her business, the industry, and the competitive landscape better than you do.

Story time

Get cozy for a minute and I’ll tell you a story.

Last fall I was recruiting for a tough-to-find role and found a guy with a fantastic profile. Yippee! That’s half the battle. I reached out and we scheduled time for him to talk with my colleague Christina. Double yippee!

At the agreed time, Christina called him. (Riiiiing! Riiiiing! Or whatever the Skype equivalent is…beeeboop, beeebooop) No answer. She tried again but still nothing.

20 minutes later he called back saying matter-of-factly “sorry,” he was eating dinner. Christina, unsurprisingly, declined to talk.

Too bad and tough luck for that guy.

Unless your child has a 104 degree fever or you just got into a car accident or you just won $700 million in the lottery, there’s no excuse for missing an interview. Dinner is not a family emergency.

But this story gets even better. A few hours later, I received this message:

Hi Sydney,
I tried to squeeze in the call last night with Christina but didn’t make it successfully. Thank you for considering me for this position but i did some research and we have some serious competition already taking over East Africa called M-Kopa. As most of the management works with the mega giant Safaricom – mpesa, Angaza will not be on a level ground to compete with them. They are already using the Pay-as-you-go strategy and almost every village in Kenya already has a branch and ground sales force. Do let me know how i can assist. Have a pleasant day.
http://www.m-kopa.com/products/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tobyshapshak/2016/01/28/how-kenyas-m-kopa-brings-prepaid-solar-power-to-rural-africa/#371aa44870f4

surprised goldfish mansplain interview

In case your mouth isn’t gaping wide open yet with that little fishy glug-glug expression, let’s break this down for a minute, shall we?

Hi Sydney,
I tried to squeeze in the call last night with Christina but didn’t make it successfully. 

Last I checked, this isn’t how an interview works. You don’t “squeeze” me in. We agree on a time. I call you. You answer. The end. Mmmmmkay?

Thank you for considering me for this position but i did some research and we have some serious competition already taking over East Africa called M-Kopa.

“We” have some competition? Oh, do you mean Angaza? Since when are you part of the team?

As most of the management works with the mega giant Safaricom – mpesa, Angaza will not be on a level ground to compete with them. They are already using the Pay-as-you-go strategy and almost every village in Kenya already has a branch and ground sales force. Do let me know how i can assist. Have a pleasant day.

Yep, I’m already intimately familiar with the biggest player in the space. I’ve had coffee and multiple conversation with their CEO. As an aside, our business model is completely different from theirs.

http://www.m-kopa.com/products/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tobyshapshak/2016/01/28/how-kenyas-m-kopa-brings-prepaid-solar-power-to-rural-africa/#371aa44870f4

Oh yes, thank you. The links you found through your quick Google search have provided deep insights and shed all new light on the competitive landscape. Whatever would we have done without you?!

But I actually am an expert. How can I convey that?

Sarcasm aside, I get it. Sometimes you are much more deeply experienced than your hiring manager. Here are three tips to convey your expertise productively:

  1. Convey your expertise by talking about your experience
    • Saying things like “I’ve worked in the healthcare industry for 20 years” or “Last year I spoke at <insert name of prestigious industry conference here> about the consolidation of individual medical practices” lends immediate credibility to what you say.
  2. Communicate your expertise with something amazing you’ve achieved
    • It’s always a good idea to speak specifically about what you’ve accomplished. Actions speak louder than words, after all. But, to take it to the next level, put it in the context of the broader industry or functional area you’re an expert in. Did you do something at your prior company that put them on the cutting edge relative to their competitors? Now that would impress me.
  3. Demonstrate your expertise with sophisticated questions
    • The best way to demonstrate your expertise is by asking fantastic questions.  There’s nothing that impresses me more. If you’re an expert in the industry, you might ask intelligent questions about the company’s competitive advantage relative to other specifics players. If you’re an expert in a functional area, you might ask about the company’s philosophy, technology, or approach for that area. The trick is to ask a sufficiently specific and nuanced question that it shows that you know what you’re talking about.

Are you a hiring manager? What do you think are the most effective ways for candidates to convey their expertise?

Yours,
The Distracted Goldfish

goldfish

P.S. Please capitalize the word “i.”

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