‘Well that’s a blunt title’ you might be thinking. However, in today’s climate of rising unemployment from all industries, and levels, there is a growing resentment mostly from management, and not unknown throughout other levels of the work force, in having to explain themselves at interview. What does this mean?
For example a manager, now the candidate goes for an interview at a well known company and the candidate used to work at a competing company, the candidate is asked in the interview, ‘So tell me what did your last company specialise in?’ or ‘Why do you think you would do well here?’ Automatic thoughts might spring to mind in the candidate’s mind such as, ‘you know what we did, we were your largest competitor, are you joking?’ or ‘Of course I would do well here, I have been looking after competing products and know the industry inside and out, what a ridiculous question!’
Of course it would be great to think that these thoughts are kept as just thoughts and not said out loud but it does happen and the result is the candidate does not get the job. Even if they are only thoughts in the mind your body language can still give you away.
The golden rule is leaving your ego at the door. The best mentality is to walk into any interview or competing company interview with the attitude that they know nothing about you or where you worked previously, think of it all as a charade. There may be no malice intended in such questions, someone might interview you from HR who does not know anything about competing companies, or a new member of staff who may also not know.
A good tip is to include a link on your CV, next to all the current and past employers’ names, of their websites so that those who may not know your company can look up your company for reference.
Once you get the job the same attitude must be applied, leave your ego at the door.
From an employers perspective one concern in hiring anyone, including competing people from the same industry, is how they are going to fit in and make the transition from another company or competitor to employee. Frustrations can occur in the first few months of such a transition, it is common for ex competitors to repeat over and over ‘oh, we wouldn’t have done that this way in x company’, ‘in x company we did this, why don’t we change this system to that system’ and so forth. This is a prime example of how not to make friends and influence people in a new company and sometimes builds resentment from other employees, non co-operation and a serious misfit for the company; the 6-month probationary period may be the end.
If you are seriously sure you can improve the systems and replicate your past systems first ask questions that probe the benefits of current system, without mentioning your old company, then look at how another system can improve things but again do not mention the old company. In the meantime get others on side by showing what the benefits of change may bring; this can take time so tread carefully. Exceptions are for those specifically brought in to replicate their ex-employers systems/structures/departments etc. But still be aware of getting buy-in from existing team members.
Written by Clare Reed (RTO Group) Senior Interview Coach ex Head of Recruitment for Deloitte Ireland 2009 ©
RTO Group is based in Dublin 2 and specialises in interview coaching, redundancy transition coaching & CV writing