Tales from the Trenches – Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I was interviewing with a top organization. The first phone interview went well. The recruiter liked one of my answers. I was speaking of my leadership style. I like to be supportive of my team and they seem to appreciate that. The opposite of “Kick down, Kiss up”, which is a thing that is often spoken about as an example of bad leadership. He said it was one of the better answers he had heard.

We set up a face-to-face interview over skype. The interview lasted 20 minutes after which the recruiter was done. I asked a few questions to keep it going.

Three days later, the recruiter called me to say that he was passing me on.

The position was junior for me and I was expecting that, but what happened next blew me away.

The recruiter mentioned lack of BI depth as a reason, and leadership style. I thought I was hearing it wrong.

I asked for further clarification and the recruiter was honest enough to provide that in an email. He took an immense risk in doing that. He was trying to help me.

I saw it again, this time on paper, so there was no confusion.

“The significant gap was that the lack of granularity of your answers indicated a lack of depth in BI and data”.

I was in shock.

I have been doing business intelligence and data warehousing for 20 years. I have consulted as a Principal, done strategies with C-level folks, led multiple teams and efforts, including leading the effort that produced Cognos analytic applications for the Oracle eBusiness suite, which I consider the biggest jewel in my crown.

What went wrong?

I could not sleep and could not let it go. Rejection is hard. If the reasons make sense, eventually you will reconcile.

I could not reconcile with this. I wrote back to the recruiter stating that there must have been a mistake.

He again called me (brave fellow), looked through his notes, and clarified that, yes, I was being passed on for a lack of depth in BI and data.

I thought about this for three days and realized the fundamental mistake I made.

I went into the interview focused on what I think are the key strengths that a first-level recruiter would like, which is my being able to lead well, as well as my jewel in crown mentioned above.

When asked about a recent example of something I was proud of, I jumped to the Cognos example.

Then I started talking about my leadership style.

All the while, the recruiter was looking for concrete, detailed, RECENT examples of my BI and data experiences. (The Cognos example is 10 years old).

We were two ships who simply sailed past each other.

I came to the following realization. Between the candidate and the recuiter, there is a mirror.

The candidate looks at this mirror, and sees someone smiling, great looking, in stylish clothes.

On the other side of this mirror, the recuiter, looking at the candidate, may see someone in tattered clothes, sad, grumpy, arrogant. Clearly not someone they would want in their organization.

The mirror hides the truth.

It made me think of a way to make it better.

Imagine a clear screen between recruiter and candidate, in the middle of the desk separating them, kind of like in the futuristic movies.

The candidate and recruiter are able to see each other as they would face-to-face.

However, there is information displayed on this screen as well. On the left is displayed the areas that the recruiter is looking for. On the right, are the key accomplishments that the candidate wants to highlight, in chronological order.

The recruiter and candidate have already provided this information prior to the interview.

AI has ranked the candidates based on fit. The ranking is available to the recruiter.

There is room for the surprise element. The recruiter adds it to the screen. The candidate speaks to it, but can access any information to the right to bolster their case.

At the end of the interview, the AI rescores the candidate. The recruiter does not have to go with the AI recommendation, of course, and adds justification to the system to support their decision.

At the end of it all, the best judgment is made, with the best information possible.

Sounds too futuristic?

We can think of many ways to make it less futuristic and more possible, but we need something like this to mend the mirror.

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