Second interview with the COO

Monday, July 28th, 2008 - Uncategorized

Troy asks: I’m meeting with COO as part of a hiring process – they are not the final decision maker but provide decision input — suggestions on approach to the interview?

I’m a candidate for a position in which the hiring manager reports to the Chief Operating Officer (COO). While the hiring manager makes the final decision, the COO provides decision input. To that end, I’ll be meeting the COO soon and would like help on a few things:

– What kind of questions should I ask the COO?
– What questions should I avoid?
– What are some business topics that would resonate with the COO specifically?

In Answer:
Don’t think for a second this guy cannot squash you being hired. Treat the COO as the decision maker – he is higher on the food chain and his input is really a recommendation to the hiring manager!

If you actually want to get hired, instead of to play interview Q & A games, you only have to remember one thing and remember it throughout your meeting: this meeting is NOT about you. It’s about the people who are doing the hiring and their problem. They HAVE a problem they cannot solve with their current staff and are now forced to bring someone in from the outside who they think can solve it for them. And since you’ve gotten this far, it’s obvious they believe that person could easily be you. So now your meeting becomes a blind date where the sole purpose of getting together is to see if the there’s enough personal chemistry to start forming some sort of a relationship. Your goal of this meeting, then, is to get the COO (“Mr. Bigg”) to like you. The goal, and the way you do that is very simple: you get him talking and keeping him talking about whatever he wants to talk about for as long as long as he wants to talk about it.

The way to begin this (after the niceties) is by asking a question or making a statement based upon your knowledge of the company and its situation (the problem you’re being hired to solve), then shutting up. These questions should be based upon your research and knowledge about the company and industry,

Results are the province of the COO – determine what point of pain your employment addresses and be prepared to discuss what you are going to do to deliver results in your new role. The goal? Have him speak more than you!

Study the business (read the annual report, and its website), its market and competitors. Find something in the operations or finances of the company you are interviewing with and ask something “I notice you have 12% lower cost of operations than you next closest competitor and 30% less than the number 3 company. Tell me how you did it…”

When you focus the meeting on Mr. Bigg, you will turn a tense interrogation between a supplicant job seeker and an omnipotent employer into a pleasant conversation between two peers.

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