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What We Have Here Is A Failure to Communicate

Great News! I informed the candidate he could start on Monday. Instead, he answered that he needed at least two months before starting the job. This was after two interviews, extensive vetting, reference checking and numerous emails and phone calls. Two months? Really? I imagined that I was Strother Martin in the film, “Cool Hand Luke” and I was addressing the prisoners: “Don’t you ever talk that way to me. Never! You know, what we have here is just a failure to communicate. Some men…you just can’t reach…” Each word is pronounced slowly and deliberately with extra emphasis given to “failure to communicate”. With my daydream over and a return to reality, I thanked him, and bid him farewell.


Growing up in the Bronx, I first majored in communications bearing witness to the various verbal tennis matches my parents would participate in; the most famous being Leonard vs. LEE-OH-NARD. This particular exchange all began en route to apply for their marriage license, and they had to find an address on Leonard Street. Lost outside of the numbered streets of East Harlem, my mom nudged my dad to ask for directions. My dad would ask, “Which way to LEE-OH-NARD Street”? My Mom would correct, “Leonard”; and again, later, “Leonard, dammit”, and then again, “Leonard”; only now, she was yelling and punching him. And, in front of witnesses. Legend has it that this was repeated maybe a dozen times and then rerun the rest of their lives.


So, I think we can all agree that excellent communication skills is a key factor to success, whether it’s navigating the streets of Manhattan or effectively acing a job interview.


This is what I tell each prospective candidate. Be prepared; live and breathe the job description, know your resume by heart, research the company as extensively as possible as well as the interviewers. It is an assumption that you will do all of this to get your foot in the door. Then, once you are there, you need to clearly convey all of this. Essentially, you need to convince the people on the other side of the table that you are perfect for this job; that you have answered the quintessential question, “why should we hire you?” And you answered it with enough strength and conviction to get a standing ovation. The crowds should be cheering!


And if you are a positive person, you should already be planning your travel arrangements and your start date. Travel should be easy or accessible. The start should be ASAP. When I interviewed at General Research a hundred years ago, Roz said to me, “When can you start, or have you started already?”


Since I hope you’re just a bit curious…. after two more interviews with a new assortment of candidates and with every detail spelled out beforehand, success is at hand! And, she’s starting Monday!

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