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March 2015

Valerie Frederickson & Company

How Not to Screw Up Your Interview 101: What Every HR Candidate Needs to Know

As you can surmise, in my line of work, I spend a lot of time with CEO’s strategizing and creating their vision of what HR should look like. Likewise, I spend a lot of time with CHRO’s and CPO’s strategizing and identifying the next gratifying career move. And sometimes, no matter how clear both parties are on their Must Have’s and Would Like’s, things unravel beyond repair when the parties finally do meet in person.

Here are some things to keep in mind for your interview. Yes, this stuff is very basic, but you’d be shocked by how many extremely accomplished executives have forgotten the basics save for showing up.

  1. Be prepared. Research the company, the industry, the executive team, and the job, and prepare comments and questions about all of it. I’m not saying reel off fact after fact about the business. Really use those critical thinking skills to identify potential HR problems and suggest creative solutions to address them. Doing this well will put you in the top 10% right off the bat.
  2. Dress like you’re going to a board meeting. Wear new, tasteful clothing in a neutral palate and limit color to one item. Don’t distract your interviewer with heavy scents, messy hair, bad nails, or a bad haircut.
  3. Remember, you are being judged. Consider yourself on display from the moment you drive into the parking lot to the moment you leave. Get your car washed. Freshen up your look in a nearby lot. Be polite to the receptionist, have good posture, show high energy, and a bounce in your stride.
  4. Stand up and shake hands as you meet each new person. Smile. Use people’s names but not enough so it’s dorky. Keep good eye contact and resist the urge to fidget, flip your scarf, scratch your ear, smooth your hair, run your hands repeatedly over your shirt (yes, a guy did that yesterday in multiple interviews), or check your smartphone.
  5. Respond with short answers. Don’t lose control and talk too much. Embrace the silence. If 90 seconds has gone by and the interviewer has not given you a clear signal that they want more information by asking you about it, that’s a red flag that you’ve said too much.
  6. Memorize clear and concise examples of what you’ve done. Define the objective, explain your role, discuss the challenges and how you overcame them, and share measurable results. Be ready to go down the rabbit hole, if asked, and dive into the details.
  7. Answer the question you were asked. Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying and give the most direct answer you can. This includes, ‘No, I’ve never done that.’
  8. Don’t badmouth your current or former employer. Have a short 1-2 sentence reason for why you quit the culture-from-hell. Everyone who hears a candidate badmouthing a former or, worse, a current employer thinks “What will s/he say about us?”
  9. Be humble. Your interviewer doesn’t need to hear about how much you made off an IPO, your private foundation, or how you’re only working because you’re bored.
  10. Let them know you want the job. Show enthusiasm and high energy.

Perfect the above and you’ll be in the rare position of letting your strengths, experience, and reputation define you.

Next month, I’ll follow up with Part 2 of this series, Interviewing HR/People/Talent Leaders: What Every CEO Needs to Know.

For a more in-depth look into HR career trends, join me at New Talent Management Network’s first meeting in Palo Alto on March 26, where I’ll be joined on a panel by Korn Ferry, Deloitte and Radford.

For CEO’s who want to learn more about hiring top talent, join me at the Executive Vendor Summit at the Hilton Union Square on March 18, where I’ll be sharing tips with CEO’s and Founders of 55+ national tech and hospitality startups.

Best,

Current Executive Searches

HR Executive Searches

  • The role

  • Chief Human Resources Officer
  • The company

  • Leading provider of online real estate and property management services
  • The locations

  • Santa Clara, California (HQ), North America, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Integration into a multinational parent company while keeping their individual identity and culture
  • Exciting note

  • $200M in revenue with headcount growth of 250% by end of year
  • The role

  • Chief People Officer
  • The company

  • One of the key players in the online job search marketplace
  • The locations

  • San Francisco, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Strategize and execute on aggressive growth plans as the company completes its next round of funding
  • Exciting note

  • Build your own HR team, from Talent Acquisition to Learning & Development to Total Rewards to Business Partners
  • The role

  • Vice President of HR
  • The company

  • Nonprofit research institute tasked with driving global economic development and innovation
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • This role is tasked with creating the first shake-up to internal people policies in almost two decades!
  • Exciting note

  • The opportunity to work with the foremost minds in biomedical sciences, chemistry and materials, computing, sensing and devices, Earth and space systems, economic development, education and learning, energy and environmental technology, and security and national defense
  • The role

  • Vice President of HR
  • The company

  • Private university specializing in art and design
  • The locations

  • Savannah, Georgia (main campus), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Bring technology and innovation to the non-profit, education sphere
  • Exciting note

  • Support a group of dedicated professors as they inspire creative young minds
  • The role

  • Vice President of HR
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar, 10,000 employee, global technology conglomerate
  • The locations

  • Sunnyvale, CA (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Define and build your own HR team to help you support the quickest-pivoting business unit within this organization
  • Exciting note

  • With a newly released 'Buy' rating, this tech conglomerate is poised to revisit the high of its hey-day in short order
  • The role

  • Head of HR
  • The company

  • Family-owned, dynamic fin-tech and investment firm
  • The locations

  • Chicago, Illinois (HQ), Seattle, Washington, North America
  • Top challenges

  • Build a scalable HR infrastructure, create and deliver competitive recruiting and rewards strategies
  • Exciting note

  • Tackle the challenge of building HR in a culture that straddles two very diverse worlds of engineering and Wall Street
  • The role

  • Head of Talent Management
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar global semiconductor company
  • The locations

  • East Bay (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Define a newly-created function combining talent acquisition and retention during a critical pivot point in the business
  • Exciting note

  • Leave a solid footprint on the global HR organization for years to come
  • The role

  • Vice President of Talent Acquisition
  • The company

  • Big data, analytics and SaaS company
  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Rethink employer branding as the worldwide headquarters shifts to Silicon Valley
  • Exciting note

  • The relocation of HQ will give you the opportunity to revamp the global TA function from the ground up
  • The role

  • Head of Global Talent Acquisition
  • The company

  • One of the fastest growing, most respected global SaaS companies
  • The locations

  • San Francisco, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Partnering with the executive team to lead rapid growth trajectory and create a global best-in-class talent program
  • Exciting note

  • Define the talent globally for recent expansion to 11 offices around the world
  • The role

  • Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition
  • The company

  • Biotech company changing the world through cutting edge genomic-based research and development
  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Coaching and mentoring a young team of high-performing individuals while establishing and expanding a global TA function
  • Exciting note

  • Partnering with a visionary, dynamic leadership team to radically improve the health and lives of people across the globe
  • The role

  • Director of Talent Acquisition
  • The company

  • Biotechnology and biomedical sciences company focused on diagnostics
  • The locations

  • San Diego, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Solve the war for talent for the fastest-growing business unit in this biotech
  • Exciting note

  • This role will have the opportunity to strategize with corporate on impending global growth plans in Latin and South America and the APAC region!
  • The role

  • Vice President of Total Rewards
  • The company

  • Big data, analytics and SaaS company
  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive global total rewards strategy
  • Exciting note

  • This role will be pivotal to the integration efforts of several recent acquisitions
  • The role

  • Senior Director of Total Rewards
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar global electronics and media conglomerate
  • The locations

  • San Mateo (HQ), California, North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Lead total rewards strategy design and implementation for one of the most well-known brands
  • Exciting note

  • This brand is one of the most revolutionary in the electronics space
  • The role

  • Senior HR Business Partner
  • The company

  • One of the first and most-respected technology and research companies in Silicon Valley
  • The locations

  • East Bay (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Lead performance management, focal review, and organizational assessment initiatives for a business line that encompasses almost half of the global workforce
  • Exciting note

  • A newly announced shift in the business will give you serious exposure to change management
  • The role

  • Director, HR Business Partner
  • The company

  • Global biomedical engineering firm with huge R&D arm
  • The locations

  • San Diego, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Support a third of the company in the fastest-growing business unit
  • Exciting note

  • This firm focuses on women's health and continues to drive innovation in the space
  • The role

  • Director, HR Business Partner
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar global engineering and financial services company
  • The locations

  • San Mateo (HQ), California, North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Support the media business unit of a household name
  • Exciting note

  • The stock price has more than doubled in the past five years alone!
  • The role

  • Diversity Lead, People Engagement Operations
  • The company

  • The largest social media company in the world
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Strategize on global diversity programs with a focus on retention and professional development
  • Exciting note

  • Be part of the team that truly redefines diversity for the tech and global business community as a whole
  • The role

  • Diversity Lead, Operations Strategist
  • The company

  • Multi-billion dollar global social media company
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Strategize on global diversity programs with a focus on talent acquisition
  • Exciting note

  • Be part of the team that truly redefines diversity for the tech and global business community as a whole
  • The role

  • Head of Diversity & Inclusion
  • The company

  • Billion dollar, profitable global media company
  • The locations

  • Sunnyvale, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Build on a success global diversity program, strategizing on future growth
  • Exciting note

  • Though it often flies under the radar compared to the brand names, this company ranks as one of the most diverse and inclusive globally

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HR Consultant & Contractor's Corner

Our hottest global HR contracting and consulting assignments include:

  • Providing Venture Capital and Private Equity Talent Partners with HR executive search, HR advisory, and compensation consulting expertise for their portfolio companies
  • Executive leadership mentoring and on-call support for CEO’s, CFO’s and HR managers at start-up companies in tech hubs that include San Francisco, San Mateo, Mountain View (Silicon Valley), Seattle, Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, Boise, Washington DC, London, Berlin and Singapore
  • HR assessment for multiple startups ready to shore up their infrastructure before taking their businesses through a high growth stage or IPO
  • Coaching executive teams through strategic planning for their leadership development function including succession planning and creating career development paths and retention plans for high potentials
  • Interim Head of HR assignments with pre-IPO companies in software analytics, digital advertising, big data, biotech, and cloud-based service companies
  • HR advising for several European and Asian headquartered companies interested in relocating their global headquarters or building regional headquarters in San Francisco/Silicon Valley
  • Comprehensive review of compensation programs for post-IPO tech companies, including benchmarking and redesigning of short and long-term incentive plans
  • Customized, high-touch outplacement projects for pre-IPO and mid-sized companies in the midst of restructuring or integrating acquisitions

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HR Events

GOExecutive Vendor Summit
March 18, 2015 – San Francisco, CA

GONew Talent Management Network
March 26, 2015 – Palo Alto, CA

GOStrategic HR Conference
April 23-24, 2015 – New York, NY

GO21st Annual Leadership Development Conference
June 4-5, 2015 – Chicago, IL

GONorth West Human Resources Management Association
October 5-7, 2015 – Portland, OR

GO2015 Talent Acquisition Innovation Forum
November 4-5, 2015 – Los Angeles, CA

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Spotlight on...

Join Valerie at New Talent Management Network’s Bay Area Group Meeting in March!

Valerie will be on a panel of HR experts and career advisors to discuss the hot Bay Area job market and developmental opportunities for HR professionals in 2015. This invite-only event will be hosted at Varian’s corporate headquarters in Palo Alto.
Visit the LinkedIn group page for more information. We hope to see all of you there!

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About VF&Co

Valerie Frederickson & Company (VF&Co) is a human resource executive search, HR consulting and corporate outplacement firm known for helping clients build and sustain winning teams in today´s rapidly changing marketplace. Since 1995, VF&Co specializes in creating customized solutions to meet an organization´s human resource needs at every stage and size from start–up to Global 500.

Outplacement Practice

Re–evaluating your outplacement vendors? Require a higher utilization rate for your outplacement dollar? Need higher touch services and consistency across all markets? Since 1995, VF&Co is the outplacement firm of choice for sophisticated corporate buyers. Join the numerous Fortune 500 employers and small firms who have selected us over their previous vendor and are now enjoying the best of both worlds: each employee well taken care of, and consistency in every city.

Price shopping or need to customize a program? Contact our Corporate Outplacement Team at 650-614-0220 or email them at outplacement@vfandco.com for more information on our outplacement services.

HR Consulting Practice

With the dramatic increase of global technology outsourcing and the continued geographic dispersion of corporate teams, the need for international human resources strategy, design, and project implementation has increased. Our global team of HR consultants has the specialized skills and breadth of expertise to develop and lead your initiatives—saving you time, money, and resources. We can manage the international recruiting function, help you hire key local managers or an entire startup team in an overseas market, and establish HR systems for global expansion.

Why clients choose VF&Co:

  • Results-driven, value-oriented. To keep your HR programs in line with your corporate direction, we provide HR strategy, cost-effective HR infrastructure, and pragmatic HR advice across all critical areas of human resource management.
  • Any size, any stage. We draw upon years of experience with startups, midsize firms and large global enterprises to guide our clients strategically through any stage of growth.
  • Work smarter, not harder. In survey after survey, CEO's say the number-one issue keeping them up at night is "people problems." We help you solve them so that you can get back to focusing on your business.

Contact our HR Consulting Team at 650.614.0220 or email them at consulting@vfandco.com for more information on our HR consulting services

HR Executive Search Practice

Why clients choose VF&Co as their human resources-specialized executive search firm:

  • Prompt results. The average time from start of search to presentation of the winning HR candidate is 21 days. 50% of HR searches are completed in less than 45 days.
  • Superior results. More than 95% of HR executives placed by VF&Co are still with their companies five years following placement.
  • High client satisfaction. More than 90% of the firm's work is either repeat business or from referrals. A number of clients have been with VF&Co for more than a decade.

You get:

  • Access to the best global human resources executive talent available through extensive networks built upon long–term relationships with U.S. and global executives
  • Customized HR executive search solutions that fit your goals, budget and timeline
  • Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition

Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition Contact our human resources executive search team at 650.614.0220 or email us at executivesearch@vfandco.com to learn how your organization can reap the benefits VF&Co can deliver: Improved performance and greater success through your most valuable asset—your people.

Diversity Statement

VF&Co welcomes and encourages all diversity candidates to contact us directly. We highly value the diversity of our VF&Co team, placement of diverse executives into our client companies and our diverse clients, candidates, and supplier partnerships. We want to help swing the pendulum the other way.

About Our Newsletter

The VF&Co newsletter, "VF&Co In the Know," and VF&Co Executive Search Update are the intellectual property of Valerie Frederickson & Company. They are a free resource to business professionals. To subscribe to this newsletter, email newsletter@vfandco.com.

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