A typical candidate’s preparation involves the following: take a quick glance at the prospective employer’s website once they are scheduled for an interview, spend about a couple of minutes flipping through some pages; go back and review the ad, and then memorize how they are going to answer questions about (a) their experience with respect to the job requirements stated in the ad, and (b) their overall background and related accomplishments; and, last but not least, they come prepared to psychoanalyze their interviewer or hiring manager in order to make sure that he/she hears what the candidate thinks the interviewer wants to hear.
The Needle in a Haystack Way
- Set aside a full day in order to go over the prospective employer’s website with a fine-tooth comb since you are not dealing with a Forbes Global 2000 company with thousands of web pages.
- Take the time to look at the founder or principal’s background information on the website.
- Take the time to also look at the principal’s background information on the internet and on social networks - you’ll be surprised at what you will find. Pay special attention to blog articles, etc., because that can tell you a lot about not only the company, the value of its offerings, its outlook on the future, its philosophy, its direction and market potential but also the people you’ll be working with.
- Now, go back and analyze every single product, service and solution the company is offering, drill down through every bit of information provided, and see if it is something that: (a) you clearly understand; (b) people working at companies that you personally know would be interested in; or (c) you yourself would be interested in as a target customer or if you were in the line of business that the product, service or solution is clearly targeted toward.
- Don’t Be a Lazy Ass. Contact your friends, colleagues and associates and ask them to do you a big favor and comment on these products, solutions and services that your prospective employer offers. You don’t necessarily have to tell them that you’re looking to change jobs.
(I already know that most people are too damn lazy to do that for themselves, let alone for somebody else, but at least it’s worth giving it a shot. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. Perhaps there is something that you’re neglecting that could be a real game changer for you.) The point being, Do Your Damn Homework, instead of walking into an interview like a Zombie, waiting for them to feed you some flesh (a lot of BS).
- Now get on the internet and see what kind of competition - perceived or real - that your prospective employer has and try to answer these questions: How does the competition fares against this company with respect to providing “real value”? And, would you choose one of these competitors over your prospective employer?
- Now go back and look at the website one more time in the About section to see if there is an Investors section and look at the list of investors who are backing the company. (The more investors they have backing them, the more leery you should be. That means they have a high cash burn rate and they are not profitable.)
- While you’re there, go to the Pricing section of the services and solutions, see if you can get any readily available pricing information and determine whether the cost to the target customer requires financing.
(Beware of any products, services and solutions which require financing since that is always subject to the whims of the market. Look for products and services that the target customer can pay cash upfront. Also look for products, services and solutions which will generate a greater demand during adverse economic conditions.)
- Now go back to the About section and see how long the principal of the company has been an “entrepreneur”. How many small businesses has he/she formed and how long did these small businesses stay afloat? (The more small businesses, the better.) If you can’t find that information on the website, it will definitely show up on one or more social networks out there.
(Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by an executive with a blue chip company pedigree with all kinds of accomplishments and tons of years of executive experience because that doesn’t mean squat in a small company or “virtual organization” environment. In fact, the bigger the blue chip executive they are, the harder they fall. If that is their first or second foray in the entrepreneurial world, with less than 10 years of total experience as an entrepreneur, you need to pause a bit.)
- As well, after you’ve done all your homework about the company’s solutions, products and services and, considering the role that you are interviewing for, put yourself in the position of the founder of the company and begin to think of what sort of contribution that you would want that new employee to make, what sort of ideas he/she could bring to the table, what are the strengths of that candidate and where he/she can fill in the gaps, etc., and think about some innovative ways in terms of how that candidate could let you know that without coming across as some smart ass, know-it-all, or knight in shining armor coming to the rescue of some poor little damsel in distress.
- And since you’ve really done your homework and know where you think you can be of tremendous value to that company, design a total compensation package that would make you happier than a pig in mud, and hold that close to your vest so that, in the event that subject comes up during the interview, you will be able to address it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you’re worth and be prepared to make the case. Why is that, you might say? It’s because if you are afraid to properly represent your own interests, then you’ll also be afraid to represent your new employer’s best interests. And just one bad deal could cost the company ten (10) times your annual compensation package.
However, that being said, by all means, please use some common sense and be honest with yourself. Don’t be greedy and don’t try to bullshit or bluff anyone. This isn’t a poker game.Pre-Interview Activities You Need to Be on the Lookout For
- If, at any time during the recruitment process, you are asked to participate in a phone call / teleconference of any kind with some recruiter or one of the principals, then this company is NOT a virtual organization. You’re wasting your time.
- If, at any time during a phone call or in an email, you’re told that some recruiter, executive, or one of the principals is going to be in your area, and you can meet and chat over a cup of coffee, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- If, at any time during the recruitment process, you are asked to participate in a phone interview, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- If, at any time during the recruitment process, you are told that you will have to travel in any way, shape or form to a physical location in order to meet with some corporate executives or founder of the company for a meeting prior to being hired, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- If, at any time during the recruitment process, you are told that you will have to travel in any way, shape or form to a physical location for some sort of training and meet-and-greet AFTER you have been hired, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- If, at any time during the recruitment process, you are told that you will be provided with a corporate desktop or laptop computer for you to conduct your activities on, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- There are many more tell-tale signs of whether or not you’re really dealing with a virtual organization, but these six (6) warning signs will suffice for now.
- Be a professional, arrive at least a good 15-30 minutes before the videoconference is scheduled to begin. 70% of candidates, regardless of background, arrive late or at the very last minute, completely disorganized and not prepared to begin.
- Make sure that your internet service provider is providing you with a minimum internet access Upstream speed of 5 Mbps. Make sure that you’re using a HD webcam and headset, and adjust your camera before the meeting begins. Make sure that you’re getting proper lighting and that your camera is not pointing toward the ceiling, etc. Make sure that your computer is plugged in directly to your modem/router so you do not lose the signal and get locked out of the videoconference room.
The point being: you want a flawless videoconference to take place.
- If you have pets, put them in a safe place away from the conference room. Don’t worry, they’ll survive without you for that brief period of time.
- If you have little children, make arrangements to have a babysitter during the videoconference.
- If you live in a noisy area, close your windows.
- Last but not least, show up with a suit (and tie if you're a man). No polo shirt, Mickey Mouse t-shirt, sweaters, etc.
- If the tone and scope of the interview is just like any other “brick and mortar” interview, then this company is NOT a virtual organization.
- When it’s time for you to ask questions, never ask your prospective employer how long the company has been in business and how many employees it has. (That doesn’t mean squat because I can form a new company tomorrow in 30 minutes. As for the number of employees, all successful companies in existence started with one employee.)
That’s a surefire way of telling them that you are a Regular Candidate, Scared, Very Insecure about your own capabilities, or A Bona Fide Idiot instead of a Needle-in-a-Haystack.
What’s important is how long the principal or founder of the company has been in business for himself instead of some other employer and whether or not you can do the job that you applied for. If you can't do the job, it doesn't matter if the company has 1 employee or 2 million employees.
- Ask your prospective employer if they are a virtual company or a virtual organization. It’s a trick question. (If you don’t get the straight answer, “We are a virtual organization,” then that means, they are NOT a virtual organization, and you can get the hell out of there; because if you don’t, you are going to be in for a hell of a ride.)
- If they answer the question correctly, then ask them if this is their first virtual organization and how long this virtual organization has been in existence. (Now it’s OK to ask them how long this virtual organization has been around.)
Why? It’s because there is a very long learning curve - about 3-5 years - for “virtual organizations” to finally get it right and become what we call “quasi-virtual organizations.” Anything less than three (3) years, forget it - you will be walking straight into the Kingdom of the Blind where the One-Eyed Man is King and Chaos reigns.
We call them “quasi-virtual organizations” for the simple reason that, outside of VOMI, there are no such things as “true and bona fide virtual organizations.”
Why? It’s because, in order to be a true and bona fide virtual organization, an organization must operate in accordance with the “virtual organization management discipline,” in which case, they would have had to learn it from VOMI and we would know who they are, which is a perfect opportunity for me to segue into the next question you need to ask.
- Ask your interviewer, point blank: Does this company operate in accordance with the virtual organization management discipline or do you just use your own homemade recipe?
If they seem confused by that, or give you a very convoluted answer about the virtual background of one of the owners or executives, etc., (this is all bullshit), don’t press the matter and, by all means, don’t try to impress them any further because you’ll now start to make them feel either uncomfortable or like idiots; and you’ll talk your way straight out of a job.
- One final question: Ask them what sort of training that they provide in order to show your humility.
- On the other hand, if the interviewer asks you :: Do you have any virtual organization experience? :: don’t fall for this trick question. That’s because 100% of candidates will try to bullshit the interviewer by saying “yes” either directly or in a roundabout way. The same way that the employer will try to bullshit you about their virtual organization credentials.
Just be humble and say, “No, but I am ready to learn everything that you have to teach me about the way that your organization operates." That’s because the real truth is that they are NOT a virtual organization, however, they do have their own way of working in a virtual environment.In Conclusion
Moreover, this information is only applicable to executives who wish to join a “virtual organization” and want to avoid experiencing the horrors of working for one of these virtual companies or quasi-virtual organizations who think they are virtual organizations and just don’t know the difference.
on The New Virtual Organization World Consortium