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Alan Etterman shares his sensible hiring practices

Bill Lepiesza | June 8, 2008
Etterman's views on hiring are as straightforward as his description of himself as an IT guy.

There must be that small subset of the population, though, that has thought it all through and decided CIO is exactly what they want to be.

I've met those guys. They need to get some therapy.

The bottom line is, through the interview process you try to learn as much as you can about someone. I'm trying to hire people. I don't worry as much about the specific technical skills.

Are there any red flags you look for when meeting with candidates? Any way a candidate can instantly rule him or herself out?

I think there's two. If you're late, you're done and you will not get a second chance. If you can't figure out the commute then leave an hour early and wait in the parking lot. I want people who want the job, not someone who says, "I was really busy and I got lost." Not my problem!

The other thing happens when you have candidates who are active in a job search. Sometimes they will have their spiel down to the point where they forget to listen to your questions. They're answering what they are used to answering. They're not listening to what I'm asking. They just have their own monologue going.

What are your thoughts on résumés, cover letters and thank you notes?

Typos are unacceptable. As you know, spellcheckers do not correct all typos. You need to know when to use "its" and "it's" "your" and "you're." A concise, well put together résumé is your entry to the game. Why would you not spend the time to make that perfect?

What should candidates wear to an interview?

Candidates need to do research. You can actually find out a lot about a company's culture. If you're interviewing for a software company, it just might be a little more casual unless you're in sales, where it might not be. I think it's about business appropriateness for the role.

I've interviewed a ton of information security guys. I'm not sure there is a dress code for that culture. In fact, for those, the more purple hair and tattoos and body piercings lets me know that I'm in the right candidate pool.

If you're hiring a head of sales, the "window dressing" might be as important as the content. After all, you've got to put this person in front of a customer and they would represent your company. Just remember business appropriate for the role.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add? Anything I haven't touched on or any other points you'd want to mention?

Yeah, we're hiring!

Bill Lepiesza is associate director of The Alexander Group. He works in the executive search firm's San Diego, Calif. office. Prior to joining The Alexander Group, Lepiesza held a number of senior human resources management positions.


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