As a small business of eight, I, as the owner, have never had to miss an interview in person; until today.  This raised the question of what do you do if you, or one of your team members is a no-show due to a conflict.  Let’s start with what we have seen as options:

  1. The cardboard cutout.  Albeit cute, the cardboard cutout lacks any sense of personal connection.  You might as well bring a cutout of a supermodel or sports star, it will be more interesting to look at.
  2. The substitute.  More personal than the cardboard cutout, but imagine going on a date with the person’s friend as opposed to your future wife, it just doesn’t feel the same.
  3. Send in the sales team.  Sending in the sales team can be effective as presentation skills and talking points are dialed in but this is risky and can fall apart if the team asks questions about their specific role on the project.  Don’t get fancy and make up new titles to mask the person’s true role within the company, misleading the future client never bodes well in the end.
  4. Phone a friend.  This system can work and owners have most certainly been on a conference call so their comfort level is higher with the approach.  The challenge is making sure your team member is comfortable with this too; when you are not in the room you miss out on body language of the panel and other team members which is critical.
  5. Meet early.  Making a request beyond the normal interview process is not ideal but we advise that you try.  Having a one-on-one connection with the interview panel is always a great thing; sometimes you have the advantage that the setting is more casual too.  Be advised that the panel is doing you a favor so be extremely flexible on your availability and don’t use this time to have a pre-interview, bring only the person that will be gone and one other.
  6. Video conference.  Although it’s not the same as being there this method is gaining in popularity and can be effective.   As with any technology there is risk; we encourage testing the systems connection and audio at the actual location both parties will be working from prior to the interview.

Clients understand that vacations and conflicts happen. They are usually  willing work with alternative approaches  as they are trying to find the best match for their projects.  When considering the options use common sense and don’t force anything.  Finally, be honest; it’s the most important component to finding a solution.