Speaking of bad situations, what are some of the worst interviews you can remember?
When I was at Cisco, I was the head of networking, which wasn't a bad job to have. This one guy, I'll never forget this, comes into my office and at the start of interview goes: "You know, Mr. Etterman, I am so honored to be here. I can't believe I'm sitting here with the Babe Ruth of networking." And I'm like, I don't even know where to go from there! I mean A) I'm not the Babe Ruth of networking, and B) I realize this guy is going to tell me whatever he thinks I want to hear as opposed to what I need to hear.
You know, the guy was really smart, but I knew immediately that he was out. He was not going to answer me honestly. He was going to tell me whatever he thought I wanted to hear to get the job.
Another time, recently, I had agreed to do an interview for another hiring manager. The candidate came into my office and I launched into a very long explanation of my thoughts about the role and what we were looking for, and the candidate goes, "Thanks, but I'm actually here to talk to you about a different position." It was a little embarrassing.
So did you flip gears pretty quickly with him?
Here's what happened. It was not a hire for me, but for someone else. I had the candidate's résumé and that was kind of it. The résumé lined up to a position in the organization we were hiring for, but he was interviewing for an entirely different position. It was Monday morning. I must have forgotten over the weekend. But the experience prompted me to remember that when people ask me to be on their interview teams that I need to understand what position I am actually assessing and what they want me to look for.
You mentioned that you strive for ten interviews with a candidate as part of the hiring process. Do you need unanimity in the hiring decision?
I don't believe unanimity is a requirement. I hire executives and managers to take the responsibility for building the team that they want. So when I or someone else tells them who they can and can't hire, all of a sudden everything that doesn't work is no longer their responsibility. Hiring managers are paid to hire. I expect them to do that, and it's their job to do that.
What somebody else needs may not be what I need. All I have is a viewpoint. I could say, "I saw this about this person" or "Do you think you can overcome that experience gap through bolstering with other team members?" Everybody may have a vote, but the hiring manager has the ultimate vote.
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