Saturday, August 8, 2009

Looking for a Job? We'll Prep you for the Interview!

Recently, the SpineBlogger was discussing the current job market in our industry with a panel of tenured professionals. As our conversation evolved, I started noticing a certain style and criteria that is prevalent in start-up and early-growth stage companies. As we started to laugh, I decided to write a blog about what the perception of our industry is, not only by those of us in it, but also by those outside the industry that run successful companies.

Our initial question was; Do the boards or entrepreneurs that hire these CEO's or President's understand the difference between leadership and management? Just look at the people that are continually hired for these positions. What does it say about the search firms that work in our industry? There's talent out there, yet, these firms are not doing a good job at identifying other more talented people that can do the job. But this article is not about them.

It's about leadership, and a leader is someone who is self-defined. Someone that understands how to live in the present moment, while at the same time is a visionary. He or she must have the ability to empower a coalition, in order to execute. That takes a self-deprecating, yet confident personality. Unfortunately, this was the impetus for our blog "Cast of Characters" which exemplified how our industry likes to hire the same people regardless of their failures. Most of those individuals, along with others, lack the ability to inspire, let alone be people oriented. How can some of these people be credible when they have had more CEO positions than Imelda Marcos had shoes? In addition to the above qualities, a leader is organized and courageous. Many of these small companies tend to be monarchs, with one individual making everyone run in twenty different directions. We called this the "Shot-gun" approach to management. But when a leader lacks transparency, they lack openness. Meaning, the reason these people fail, and move on to other jobs is because they resist ideas other than their own, they resist the unknown, taking risks, and breaking the rules. Think of all the negative energy that these people bring along with them. Leaders their not! So remember our number one rule, interview the interviewer. You need to know whom these people are and where they have come from. What have they accomplished?

Our next question was: "Why do these people and companies keep asking for a 30, 60, and 90 day business plan?" Is this being taught at the Harvard or Wharton School of Business? In all the years that some of us have been in this business, the question must be posed: "What can one do in that period of time?" How ridiculous do these people sound when they ask that question? Ever wonder why the onus is placed on the interviewee? In all likelihood, the interviewer themselves do not have an idea where they are going! Ever ask one of these CEO's what their strategic plan is, and how they intend on executing it? The answer is beyond the sublime. The Blogger's question to these people is: "What have you accomplished in your first 90 days at the company?" When someone asks that question, alarms must start going off in your head. It must scream: "short-term thinker!" Yet, at times you have to feel sorry for these people, they have become slaves to the Street, private equity firms, venture capitalists, and angel investors. And we all know that many of those people have never designed a product, do not understand the difference between moving money versus building a company, nor do they understand how difficult it is to get a product into a hospital nowadays. One of our panelists put it best, "just because you made a lot of money doesn't mean you know how to manage a company, doesn't mean you have the ability to identify leadership, doesn't mean you know what you are talking about, because all it means is that you were in the right place at the right time and made a lot of money!" Rule number two: Always ask the interviewer what they accomplished in the first ninety days, and what are their expectations for you.

Our final question was why do these people always asks: "how much business can you bring within a certain period of time?" With hospitals making it difficult to introduce new "me too" products into their facilities, what do some of these people think can be done in a 30, 60, 90 day period? Why don't these people just ask: "how many docs can you bring to the table and do they want a consulting agreement?" Some of these people must have never carried a bag, or, built a business because they would never have asked those questions. Ever ask these companies to see their "IP?" Ever ask these companies to identify their research and development plans? Ever ask these companies for their commercial launch plans? Ever ask them for their revenue expectations? Ever ask them for their revenues? The response is usually "that's confidential." Confidential means that the person that is interviewing you doesn't know themselves where they are going, nor, do they know how they are getting there. So the next time you're in an interview and the person interviewing you starts asking you those questions, remember rule number 3, get up and tell them the interview is over. You'll be doing yourself a favor.

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