I have read a great deal about how critical it is for an applicant to be able to discuss during an interview his or her plan for the first 90 first ninety days of employment at a hiring company. I have also read a great deal about the importance of a person’s first 90 days on the job.
I have read and written quite a bit on the subject of employment, but the connection of success and the first 90 days is really, at least it seems to me, a fairly arbitrary amount of time.
Perhaps in your experience as an applicant or in your experience as a hiring manager, you have found answering questions about the first 90 days of employment to provide a good basis for making hiring decisions.
I am trying to imagine the Yankees organization deciding to pass on hiring Babe Ruth away from the Red Sox, because the Yankees were not impressed with how the Babe handled the questions about what he would do for the Yankees organization in the first 90 days of employment. By the time that Babe went to the Yankees, he had already won 3 World Series and started as a pitcher for the Red Sox. He had an ERA of 2.28 and a batting average of 3.42.
As for what a person does in the first 90 days of employment often has a much to do with the nature of the industry as it does the person’s performance. Economist understand these matters better than I do, but I see the sales cycle as the single most important factor in any business model. Based on the sales cycle evolves the production plan, the marketing plan, the sales plan, and the logistics plan and distribution plan. Notice I did not reference finance as a plan. Finance is the bridge that must carry all the other plans on its back and must span the time between sales cycles.
When I worked at Polaroid Corporation, I once heard that one day of retail sales on film in December was equal to the entire month of January. I started to work for Polaroid in May. All the retailers knew that the camera deals were breaking in July, because Polaroid, like most hard goods manufacturers, needed lead time to know how to much manufacture of each item for the Holiday sales season starting Thanksgiving. I was one of the top 3 sales leaders at Polaroid that year. In May and June, I had to hunt for things to do, but in July, I was engulfed with work. Coming from Procter & Gamble where the company sold pretty much the same quanity in one month as it did in another month, I found it fairly easy to describe what I would do over a 90 period. Working for Polaroid was like working for two different companies, depending on the month of the year and predicting what the next month might bring was at times very challenging.
The most successful hires I see come from companies that hire people with the most clearly transferrable set of successful skills. How a company goes about making that decision can vary. Some companies simply try to make hires directly from their competitors or from other companies that sell products in similar categories. Applicants who make the most successful career moves manage to accomplish a similar transition.
I think it is very important for applicants to go into an interview fully prepared with an agenda they have constructed from field research and written research and show how the skills they bring with them will enable them to build a hiring company’s business, not just over 90 days but over a career.
Thinking back over what I said about Babe Ruth, I think about the things I try to remember when assessing an applicant. Sometimes the best way for me to look at people is the same way I look at a great bowl of soup. It is not what the soup can tell me about what it can do for me, but what I can experience from enjoying the bowl of soup. From there I can make my decision whether to pass on that bowl of soup next time or to return for more.
The World’s Most Noble Headhunter