EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Over the course of our careers, as financial people, we become hard wired to never take no for an answer. When a customer claims they won’t pay an invoice, we can come up with “offers they can’t refuse.” When engaged in a debate at work about the appropriate accounting treatment of some expense, we know our facts and argue persuasively, sometimes to the “death.”

So, when we are competing for a job we believe we are well qualified for, it is in our nature to get a bit argumentative with the “hiring authority.” Why was it we didn’t carry the day? How is it even possible that we weren’t the most qualified person for the job? What was it in our background that caused us to be eliminated or not selected? Did we somehow muff the interview?

Sadly, NONE of these questions are ones you should ask. What’s worse is that even if you ask them politely, you aren’t going to get any “true” answers. Consider the fact that most of the answers you might get could be taken out of context and set up the firm in question for a lawsuit. At least, that is the thought that is always in their minds when asked any of the not unreasonable questions above. So, basically, everything after the word no is not going to provide you with any useful information anyway.

The strategy I would suggest to you is to be gracious. If you should be so lucky as to actually get someone to return your phone call to tell you that you didn’t get the job, make it your top priority to “let them off the hook.”

Most folks don’t like delivering bad news. Put yourself on the other side of the phone and imagine the reality that they are braced for an argument and/or unpleasant discussion with you that they would greatly prefer not to have.

What if instead of getting into a debate with them you immediately thank them for calling? And, then what if you move to letting them know that you are a little disappointed, but understand that there are a lot of qualified candidates out there and that you’re sure they made a fine choice?

The result you will achieve is that this person will always take your calls. Furthermore, since you have struck such a positive note, you are now in a position to ask if they have any introductions they might make for you. After all, you presumably just missed getting hired by them. You must be pretty good.

What’s even better is the possibility that the idiot they just hired (Am I running down the competition or what?) may not show up for work and they will be back to you. Or, in the world of “you can’t make this stuff up,” the person may not work out. Again, who do you think they will call, the person who was gracious or the person who “beat them up?”

So there you have it. How to make lemonade out of lemons. A charm offensive always wins out over trying to win an argument you have already lost.

Regards, Matt

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