Orville Pierson’s Blog

Stealth Interviews

How many interviews have you really had so far? It might be more than you think, especially if you’re using networking as a search technique.

If you are getting interviews through the formal channels – recruiters, ads and Internet postings – the process is pretty clear. First there’s a formal contact, usually with a resume. Then maybe there’s a brief screening interview on the phone, and finally a formal interview. You know exactly how many of these you’ve had.

On the other hand, if you are like most people and you’re using networking as your primary search technique, things aren’t quite so clear. When you meet a hiring manager informally and have a conversation that does not include mention of a specific job, that’s definitely not a job interview. It’s a conversation.

But that conversation has great value. The hiring manager gets a free, no obligation look at a possible candidate. If you follow up persistently and professionally, that hiring manager may later have a need and invite you in for an interview.

Now, retroactively, that initial informal conversation becomes a screening interview – and one that you passed. The hiring manager probably didn’t think of it as an interview at the time it happened. This is an advantage for you, especially if you did think of it that way and acted accordingly.

One of the many advantages of networking is that hiring managers hire human beings, not just skill packages that can be displayed on resumes. And hiring managers usually behave like human beings themselves, relying on their instincts as much as rational judgment when they meet someone. So every time you informally meet one – or one of their subordinates – that’s a stealth interview.

And if you are introduced to the hiring manager by someone they trust, well, that’s a significant added advantage. The whole key here, of course, is to focus more on the people rather than on job openings. Openings will happen. They always do. It’s a question of when, not if. So meet enough hiring managers and the odds of a near-term opening with one of them tilt in your favor.

In case you haven’t yet read my Highly Effective Job Search book yet, you might want to know that for the average person in the average search, “enough” is 25.

Happy hunting.

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