I nearly cost my wife a job interview. And then I saved the situation by accident. This is what happened:
Evgenia has been working for her current employer for the last eleven years. Ever since she came to Germany, with very little German language, but good experience in investment banking.
Back then the hiring manager took a chance on her, because he had worked for all the same investment banks as Evgenia – and she has rewarded that trust with good work and a steady contribution of good ideas for the company. She even came back to work before her parental leave was over, because the company needed her. But with one condition: She would work only 100% remotely. (That was way before the pandemic.)
She likes the company, the team and the work – but the new department head wants everyone to come back to the office. For Evgenia this is inacceptable. We have two small kids and we simply can’t waste hours every day, just to – let’s be honest – satisfy the irrational emotional need of a manager.
So, she decided to quit.
But first she needed to secure her next job. I agreed completely, when she told me. (I tend to always agree with her. She cooks the food that I eat – and accidents happen so easily…)
I am a man of action. So, I started to google “100% remote jobs” in her industry. And by luck I found an excellent position within mere minutes. I googled the company and identified the head of HR. Then I contacted her on LinkedIN and asked if I could introduce my wife to her.
A few days past. I didn’t get a response and the head of HR (let’s call her “Sarah”) didn’t accept my contact request. The week was nearly over when I got a message from Sarah: “Please tell Evgenia to send me her CV by email.”
Evgenia did and after a bit of back-and-forth she got invited to a job interview. The interview was supposed to start in mere minutes – when Evgenia finally remembered, that I do something in relation to helping people get a job. (“The prophet is not valid in his own country”, you know.)
She asked: “Any advice for the interview?
I hesitated. There was actually lots of things that I could share with her. But the clock was ticking: “If you can do only one thing: Ask her – at the end of the interview – what is her biggest concern in regard to hiring you. Then ask her for more context, so that you understand why this is a concern. Then address the concern as concrete as you can.”
The interview went well. Sarah and Evgenia really clicked. The company embraced remote work and was geared towards the needs of employees with children. Considering Evgenia’s experience, Sarah considered her for an even higher position than the one to which she applied. That position wasn’t advertised yet, but she would be a good fit.
They were ready to end the zoom call, when Evgenia remembered my advice: “Sarah, one last question: “What is your biggest concern in hiring me?”
Sarah laughed: “I don’t have any concern. Not anymore. But to be frank: We had quite a discussion with the hiring manager if we should even invite you. We were worried that you would be “a little housewife”, because you had your husband reach out to us, instead of writing yourself.”
Luckily, they decided to talk to her anyway – and Sarah had no doubt anymore that Evgenia is tough as a nail. Nonetheless: Evgenia explained why I reached out to her: Because I do this for a living and I help international professionals get in touch with the hiring managers behind a job. So, it felt natural for me to do the same for my wife.
Context matters, it turns out. It’s one thing for me to reach out on behalf of my clients, but it’s completely different if it’s my wife. I nearly killed her prospect for a job with that. And she would have never found out, if she didn’t get the interview anyway – and then was smart enough to ask.
(Sidenote: Many male clients come to me because their wives reach out to me. That’s totally fine.)
But the real insight I want you to take away from this experience, is this:
Don’t guess! Ask!
Asking questions is the best way to secure a job. Because questions discover the sharp stones hiding below the water surface. The stones that can sink your ship and cost you a job, that was yours for the taking.
If you could ask me ONE question: What would you ask? (Click here)