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Play Offense

4 Oct, 2013

It is a timeless debate in sports: is offense or defense more important? With a strong sports background myself, I always relate my business experience to sports analogies. We have all heard the saying “defense wins championships” and have seen the famous prevent defense. What I find strange is every time a team goes to prevent defense, the offense runs down the field with ease. I do not believe any team should sit back and be defensive so my question to you is: are you doing this with your business?

As an Executive Recruiter, I am able to see both sides of the interviewing process and the examination of many different interview styles that companies have. Companies always fall into two different philosophies, which I call Offense or Defense. The Offensive companies try to sell the candidate on how great their job is and how successful they will be. The Defensive companies downplay the position and often extremely under promote the job itself and in turn talk the candidate out of the position. While I can see the good intentions in each philosophy, companies often go to the extreme and set themselves up for failure.

Let’s start by looking at why some companies want to play Defense when it comes to interviewing candidates and what some of the pitfalls may be.

I strongly believe when interviewing candidates, you want to find the ones who truly want the position and are hungry for it. I have seen managers tell candidates that the job is an extremely challenging, unpleasant position and if you really knock it out of the park your first year, you just might make decent money. These same managers then sit back and wait to see if they still are excited about the position and think they are doing a great job at filtering their candidates. You are just going to talk them out of your position and into another job for a different company. It is much easier to judge their interest in the position by observing their follow up skills. If you interview a candidate on Wednesday and tell them you will get back to them on Monday, but they contact you on Friday just to see if there were any new updates and to wish you a great weekend, then it is safe to assume that they are interested in working for your company.

On the other end of the sliding scale, we have companies that will try to sell you their position like it is on a “red tag special”. I think we have all been in a situation where we have seen a perfect candidate that we wanted to do everything we can to get them. This is often where I see the most mistakes. If you are telling the candidate how awesome this position is and how they are going to do great and make so much money, but then they get into the position and realize what they really signed up for was not what you promised. You never want to over promise and under deliver; this will give a false impression of your positions and will not create a lasting employee. There are also some negative psychological issues that might be brought up if you seem too eager to get the employee started right away. If the interview is too easy for them they may think that they are over qualified for this position and that they can easily get a better position.

What is the best philosophy to take when it comes to interviewing? With an ever changing market it is always important to stay ahead of the curb and continue to evolve. The only way to do this is to play Offense. I want to try and give you a new game plan that will ensure you do not over sell your position and lose employees in the long run. It is okay for you to sell the candidate during the interview process, just as long as you are not selling them on just the position alone. Bring focus to your company as a whole and really stress the company’s culture. Try talking about the company’s history and the direction it plans to go in the future. Tell some success stories of current employees that might relate to your candidate’s background. Overall your goal should be for your candidate to walk away saying, “I would be lucky to get a chance to work here". Even if it does not work out it gives your company better brand value in the marketplace.

You have to come to the realization that people will do research on your company and turn down a position because something they read online. We are in a digital information age where knowledge is key, and to keep your completive advantage in this new frontier you must Play Offense!


Steven Branstetter is an executive recruiter at Crawford Thomas, a nationwide executive recruiting firm based in Orlando, Fla., with offices in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. He has extensive knowledge with recruiting in the office technology industry for both OEMs and independent dealerships. Branstetter can be contacted 1-321-257-0811 and steven.b@crawfordthomas.com / http://www.CrawfordThomas.com

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