Don’t Forget the Influence of the Influencers

by on March 14, 2012

Don’t Forget the Influence of the Influencers

You have been called into a company for an interview, perhaps even more than one.  You have met with your prospective boss and the two of you have definitely connected and you are sure that he likes you.  Perhaps at this point you believe you have a good chance to receive the position.  This is enhanced when you are called in for an additional interview.  This one will be with some of the prospective peers with whom you would be working.  Although not all job seekers may realize it, this round of interviews may be the most important one in the cycle of interviews for a particular position.  At this point of the process it is critical that the job searcher is able to “influence the influencers” in terms that they are the right person for the open position.

No person works at any company in a vacuum.  The function that your unit performs likely interacts with several functions in the organization.  For example if it is a marketing position, it may very well interact with the sales team, the information technology team and the accounting team.  Each of these areas (or their leads), has expectations on how that new person coming into the marketing position needs to support their function in order to be able to make the contributions needed to allow their function to run successfully.  If they are not convinced that you as the potential hire are able to do that, their input to the hiring manager, (your prospective boss), may have a great deal to say as to whether you get the position you seek or not.

So, just how do you “influence the influencers”?   It goes back to a fundamental understanding of just what the interview process is.  First and foremost it is a business meeting where two sides are exchanging information.  Yes, you may be the new person in the equation.  And, as part of that equation you are expecting to get asked a good number of questions so that you can best state how you can support the function that is now looking to be filled.  However, in any good business meeting where information is exchanged, “both parties are asking questions”?  What are the expectations that the sales team has for example of the marketing area in supporting their function?  How is it best for the two groups to communicate and exchange information?  What is the timing of the support needed?  Are there particularly critical clients that need extra service and support?  These and other questions like them should be clearly expressed in such an interview exchange.

As the person coming in being interviewed for the position, you may be new to the ways of the company to which you are speaking.  However, you likely have experiences on how you did such interactions in previous companies.  Additionally, given an opportunity to understand the issues that your prospective peers face,  while you may not have an immediate answer you can always offer to follow-up once you have had a couple of days to think about things and offer a solution or approach.  Of course, if you do indicate you will follow-up, indeed do so.  Even if all issues appear to be answered during your conversation with a perspective peer, in your follow-up letter with them not only thank them for their time during the interview, but express your anticipated excitement of working with them and moving not only your respective functions but the company forward to meet its goals.

So, much of this round of interviews with peers is about “fit”.  They’re already in place in terms of their position.  You are the new person anticipated to join the group.  While all people have different styles of working, if your style is drastically different than what is in place as part of the culture of the company, your chances that the rest of these peers will be comfortable with you filling the role you are seeking will drastically be compromised.

As a final word of caution, remember anyone you meet at the company with which you interview is a potential influencer.  The receptionist who meets you as you come into the area, your prospective boss’ administrative assistant, staff members, other executives outside of your prospective boss’ area, even former employers of yourself.  It is essential that you not only make the best of impressions on them throughout the interview process but to anticipate the need to reach out to them afterward and thank them for their assistance in making your way through the process.

Yes, it is a major key to make a favorable impression on your new boss to be.  However, to overlook the influence of those around them in the hiring process is a mistake that can have you scratching your head for a long time to come as to why you didn’t get that job that you thought was all yours.

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