Let’s Skip The Interview. I’ll Just Name-Drop…

Some people are just smarter than others. They think differently when it comes to preparing for a job search. In evaluating and preparing candidates for an interview you can always spot the ideal candidate that wants to be totally prepared for a face to face interview. The phone screen is definitely a milestone they must achieve to get an invitation to the big dance – but meeting a potential employer (and their team) for the very first time on their turf in person …well that’s a horse of a different color. They listen intently as that are prepped for the big day asking plenty of very good questions and making sure they have a very thorough understanding of the who, what, and when of how they will spend their day. Those are the candidates that clearly “get it” and more often than not seem to finish at the top. I love to work with candidates who are prepared.

Unfortunately, there is another breed of candidates who just want to just wing it – and take shortcuts. You can usually spot them a mile away. They are the complete opposite of the candidate I described earlier. Chatty, but never engaging. And, yes they ask questions too. Just not very good ones. You see they have a different strategy because they view themselves as being smarter than the average Joe. If I know up front they have not spent the time preparing for the interview – I will intervene and postpone the interview until they are both committed and fully prepared to meet with one of my clients.

Their Plan: It’s short and sweet. To name-drop. Yep. A Simple Plan – that’s what they believe will have the greatest impact on their chances of landing the big offer. Hey – they know PEOPLE. What? You got it. That’s their plan. Guess what? 9 times out of 10 it’s simply an awful plan. They would rather spend the client’s valuable time taking a trip down their memory lane Rolodex to see how many people they know in common. C’mon people. This is not Jeopardy. It is a job interview and name-dropping is not a strategy (well not a very good one). It’s a short-cut either way you slice it and a time-waster for the client and their staff to spend time face to face time with a candidate who wants to play “Who Do You Know.”  Here’s the sad part. While the guessing game is taking place, they never get to know much about the candidate at all. This includes their achievements, work history and skill set. All they remember is that they seemed nice. Unfortunately that never results in getting an offer. Nope. Never.

If you really want to impress a client – don’t name drop. Be prepared. Find out as much as you can about the company in advance of the interview. The information is out there if you invest the time to do your research and work with your search consultant to make sure you are fully prepared. The job landscape is far to competitive today to stake your bets on someone who you know in common and to waste time sharing old war stories that have nothing to do with the reason you are there. Nobody cares. In most cases – if you know someone in common, that will come up during the the reference check.

Hopefully they will have something good and compelling to say about you and your background other than you just seem to talk too much.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


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