Firstly, you’re probably thinking “who are we and what credibility do we bring to the table to speak on a subject like turning interviews into offers?” Fair question! Well, we here at Bowman Williams Skype interview 40-60 Managed Service Provider (MSP) professionals per week! We’ve been exclusively staffing the MSP industry for 9 years, we staff for 300+ MSPs around the country and Forbes ranked Bowman Williams #137 Best Recruiting Firms in America in 2018. We keep a finger on the pulse for the consistently booming Managed Services industry and this provides us a unique vantage point to understanding interviewing and interviewing feedback.
Based on our experience, we will explain why every employer has two items on their checklist of intangible “must-haves:” 1) hiring an employee who is 100% sold they can do the job successfully (because it strengths their belief that you can too) and 2) hiring an employee who is thrilled to be a part of their organization for the right reasons.
Both of these two checklist items are on every decision maker’s list because Service Delivery Managers, Helpdesk Managers, CEOs and founders of MSPs, know they will reduce their turnover by hiring someone who shows passion and drive to learn and be trained vs. hiring someone more technical who just sees this as “just another job…”
Why? We surveyed 156 MSP hiring managers around the country and “lacking the right technical skills to perform job duties” was the #3 most common reason for turnover. Three! That means MSPs are vetting for many skills and character traits besides technical skills.
So here is how you influence your MSP interviewer: augment confidence and conviction by simply steering your interview questions and answers so that they strike the right chords in the minds of your future employers on specific topics they care about most.
First, two golden rules around interview Q&A.
- It’s not rocket science that the first step in preparing questions to ask in an interview is actually preparing to have questions to ask during an interview.
- Questions are important and demonstrate an interest and show you are thinking critically about the opportunity. Someone thinking “critically” about anything won’t only ask one or two questions, they’ll ask a series of questions. So, prepare a series of 4-8 question each “chord striking” topic.
Valuable employees are in demand and in demand employees are picky. Augment YOU’RE in demand and YOU’RE picky but not by asking “How many employees do you have?” That’s lame and not a thought-provoking question. Rather, ask questions that indicate you’re sizing up the opportunity by asking questions along the following topics:
Ask multiple questions about a career path. This is demonstrating you are thinking long-term (and employers want their employees to stay forever!) and questions about the topic of longevity implies you are in it for the long haul wherever you land next. It also indicates you’re only interested in buying into a company for the right reasons, such as the company’s vision. Lastly, it indicates you know you’re a valuable resource and want to join a company that will satisfy career needs for the long term.
Ask multiple questions about company culture. This is because it augments caliber; only a high caliber candidate will ask thoughtful engaging questions that size-up how intelligent, tight-knit his or her potential staff and teammates would be.
Ask multiple questions about former employees and candidates that didn’t work out and why they weren’t a good fit. Understanding why these previous employees didn’t work out is just as important as understanding the current company culture. A high caliber candidate wants to understand why someone is a fit and why someone else wasn’t a fit.
Here’s how you close the interview. Do so by letting the employer know that 1) you are confident you have the SKILLS to do the job by specifically stating at least 3 reasons why (e.g. you mentioned you are looking for someone that can lead, and I did this in my last position leading 3 junior engineers) and 2) that you are EXCITED to join the company and again specifically state at least 2 reasons (e.g. I’m excited about this opportunity because it allows its employees the opportunity to voice their ideas about making efficient changes for the future).
If early in the interview process, ask “What are the next steps in the interview process?” This shows you are interested and eager to move forward in the process, as well as giving you important information about the timeline for hiring so you can follow up appropriately. If it is a final round interview, ask “I would appreciate your transparency here because you can expect the same from me, but given the time we’ve spent together interviewing for this position, where do you honestly see my coming up short?” This may seem too forward for most, but this is the last chance that you will have to prove yourself for the position! Plus, you never know what they might say…they might point out something you said during your phone interview that was misunderstood or they might know someone who knows you from one of your previous jobs and they received questionable feedback. Knowing what strikes are against you will give you a chance to ensure those strikes are accurate reflections. A lot of information gets shared during an interview and you want to make sure they’ve documented all the correct and pertinent information before making their decision.
So, by preparing questions for your interviewers and making them so that they are engaging to whom you are asking, you will give yourself the best possible position in landing your next job!