I recently interviewed for a job that ticked many of the boxes that are important to me: international focus, lots of travel, ability to start a team/office from scratch, and a lot of external relationship management.
Excited to have passed through the first two stages via videoconference, I suggested I could come up and interview in person in their Berlin headquarters while I was visiting my parents at home in Germany. the cost of flying to Germany was on me, the cost of taking a train up to Berlin was on them.
I showed up, did the case interview, and felt pretty good about it. I didn’t feel I absolutely killed it, but I still thought it was a solid performance and that combined with my fit for the role, I would advance to the next stage. After all, the next stage was with the CEO and three of our mutual friends had strongly recommended me to him (two of them even before they found out that I was applying for this position).
A few days after the interview, the recruiter asked to talk. She called me and informed me that I didn’t make it to the next round. Reason: they wanted more detail.
As I receiving the call, I was disappointed. But the following day I emailed the CEO to thank him for the opportunity and to recommend someone who I thought would be a much better fit for the role.
Wanting to make sure that my recommendation wouldn’t fall through cracks of an overcrowded CEO email, I also emailed the recruiter and the interviewer to let them know as well – with my friend’s resume and a paragraph explaining why I think she’d make a perfect fit. Days later I heard she was in Berlin going through the interview process.
In a follow-up feedback conversation with one of my interviewers, he thanked me for the recommendation and expressed surprise since this would’t happen very often for someone who got rejected to come back and recommend someone else for the role.
Given his surprise, I keep wondering why. I had already taken my shot, and I wouldn’t lose anything by recommending a friend. Quite the opposite, I would be helping a friend (which would make me feel good), I would establish a positive relationship with the firm and its individuals (which is helpful for my own future) and I would help a friend get a cool role (who doesn’t want to have friends in cool positions?).
So next time you don’t make it through an interview process, think about which of your friends might make a better fit and recommend them.