Is this Job Real? Part II

Avid readers of these blogs will remember the story of the fantasy job, where a former coaching client of mine became the chairman's pet project of the moment with unfulfilled promises of "We'll find a role for you". This was a whim for the chairman, an exciting illusion for my client and a pain for the CEO who had to spend time pouring cold water on the chairman's enthusiasm.

I was recently reminded of another way in which the candidate for a job can be somewhat misled about what the real agenda is: when the management team know that they need to do something, but they are unsure or don’t agree on the solution. One way that is often used by business leaders to grope blindly towards an answer is to brief one or more recruiters with an approximation of what they think they need to see in short-listed candidates.

The thinking is that by meeting a number of bright, well connected and experienced candidates, ideas and solutions for the business issue at hand will appear and clarity will be achieved.

Whilst this is not the normal way of working, having a well-defined job spec with a list of carefully thought through competencies and then interviewing candidates to find the best match, it is not all bad: 

  • The interview is more likely to be an open and wide-ranging conversation about the business issues and an exploration of possible solutions rather than a check-list interrogation.
  • You, as the candidate, have a chance to shape the thinking around the solution and, if it is right for you, write yourself into the part.
  • You may get to witness first-hand the dynamic of the management team as they work towards the preferred solution. This precious insight will help inform your view as to whether or not you want to be part of their organisation.

So, if you are invited to an interview and the recruiter or HR professional is a little vague about the specifics of the role, it may be because the management are still shaping their thoughts – this can be a great opportunity.