It may seem a little bit out of the ordinary for a CTO at a wound care organization to be writing about interviewing, but I’ve vetted quite a few applicants over the years and I thought it might be helpful to offer some tips for job seekers (especially job seekers that are looking at our organization) to share what differentiates applicants and how you can improve your chances of getting your foot in the door of a great organization like Wound Care Advantage.
- Get the easy stuff right (see this post from Scott Galloway; he’s worth a follow: https://www.profgalloway.com/getting-the-easy-stuff-right). I ignore any applicant with typos in their resume or intro email. I definitely judge people with wildly unprofessional email addresses. Get the company’s name right in your cover letter and phone screening. (We aren’t “Wound Care” or “Advantage Wound Care,” and we definitely aren’t the company you applied to just before ours.) We only do virtual interviews these days, but you would be astounded at the number of people who show up late, who are wearing a t-shirt, or have dirty dishes on their desks. If you get a shot, don’t blow it!
- Do a bit of homework. Follow any instructions in the job ad. Some companies don’t want cover letters. We do, and we usually have a simple question in the application process that serves as our first screening layer. Personally, I expect an applicant to have roughly the same amount of knowledge about WCA as I have about them. That’s not much, so failing to do even a little research is a red flag. Spend 5 minutes on our website to find out how long we’ve been around and what our core values are.
- Ask questions during the interview and hiring process. (“What are some of the common factors that successful people have in your company?” “What might I be doing in 2 years after working here?” “How do you support professional development? ” etc.) You should be interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure it’s a good fit for both sides. If I hire the wrong person, I’ve set the organization back 3 months and $10,000, minimum.
- Try to identify and focus on what makes you different, not necessarily what you think is “better.” We hired a project manager recently. All the applicants had program management experience and most had a tech background that included at least some kind of development knowledge. One of the applicants had no development experience, but is also a nurse, has worked in hospitals, and has experience with health IT. She got the job.
- Don’t try to fake it. When I’m interviewing, I don’t ask questions I don’t know the answer to, so if you’re asked a domain-specific question and try to BS an answer, it’s over. The best developers are autodidacts and problem solvers (of course, that applies to many other roles), so if you tell me something like “I don’t know the answer, but it sounds like it’s similar to this problem I had one time, and here’s how I was able to solve it” I will be happy with that.
- Don’t take on a project without asking. We’ve had applicants who, before their interview, decided to start doing the job: candidates for marketing positions who develop a marketing plan; business development people who submit a market analysis; operations people who want to change our workflows. We know we have needs –that’s why we have an opening!– but it’s highly unlikely for you to know enough about the role and the company to have a submission that catches our attention for the right reasons. It’s much more likely that it’ll miss the mark, overlook something obvious, or worst of all, offend one of the interviewers. Maybe it’ll do all three. It’s an exercise that has a huge downside risk and almost always has no upside, but it’s happened enough that there must be places out there telling applicants that this is a good idea. It’s not. Please stop.
- Apply! Job requirements have become absurd. We’ve all seen the memes (Entry Level. Must have 5 years experience.) and requirements inflation is a real thing, but “required” is really more like “suggested.” Licenses and certifications can be earned and skills can be trained. Attitude and values cannot. We’re hiring people, not resumes. So if you’re on the fence about your qualifications or ability, but something about the company speaks to you in a way that makes you think you would be a good fit, apply anyway!