Sunday, January 11, 2009

Does A Short Interview Imply Failure?

I have recently presented three candidates to a client. They all flew in to Hong Kong to interview for the same post on the same day. My assistant had been busy arranging transportation among airport, hotel, our office and client’s office and to prevent them from bumping into each other. What a hectic day!

From the driver’s report, I obtained some first-hand information. The first candidate had his interview for almost two hours; the second was an hour plus; the third was only 50 minutes.

For senior roles, if your interview is less than an hour, you can almost assume a failure. With this concept in mind, I felt sympathy for the third candidate for flying 10 hours to do that 50-minute interview. However when I followed up with my client the next day, I was shocked that they like the third candidate the most. Here’s what my client told me.

He answered our questions in a very smart way. His answers were direct, precise and with extended information that made our asking follow up questions unnecessary. However he has limited his talking and his contents were gems and no non-sense at all. He also listened very intently and asked talent questions. After 50 minutes, we just felt that we had known him for several decades. And at that point of time, we all felt that we had no more questions to ask. Hence the interview was short.

So next time, if you had a short interview, review the process and see if you were one of the “third candidate” type of candidates. If so you are likely to succeed even with short interviews. My boss had been in the recruiting business far longer and I do, but it was his first time to hear a story like this. We must admit that there is no single golden rule that governs the world.

Investment Banking Interview

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