The Credit Guy Always Knows Best

I was inspired to write this after reading the article Martin Plumlee posted to LinkedIn called “Let’s Move Recruiting to the Marketing Department.”

How many times in your large corporation career did you see a mismatch of talent or ability with job responsibilities?

When Comerica Bank bought my little bank in California; they sent a guy out from Detroit to baby-sit us. He was the defacto chief credit officer for Southern California. We became one of the only banks that still had a commercial credit-training program. Responsibility for identifying, interviewing, and hiring trainees fell onto this guy’s shoulders (by the way, he was the stereotypical credit officer – someone you’d keep in a room and never let him have customer contact). He always used pencils – they would always be sharp and lined up in a row.

Anyways, it seemed we couldn’t keep our trainees for very long. They would get up and leave the bank – usually for something different than banking. The credit guy must have been hard up because one day he asked me to interview ten candidates in one afternoon. We had a couple of slots become available . . . go figure.

So on a Friday afternoon, I drove over to Fullerton College and began the interviews. I started out by telling the candidates that I wasn’t going to interview them for the credit trainee position. I was going to interview them for my job.

I said, “You’ll only be on the training program for two-years. You’ll need to be able to survive in a marketing position like mine. You will need to become a salesperson.”

Well, it immediately became clear. Of the ten candidates, four of them got up and left after five minutes. Finally, I asked one of them why they didn’t want to finish the interview.

He said, “The written job description sheet in the binder gave me the impression I was interviewing for an accounting job. I don’t want to be in sales.”

Voila. The answer to the problem was solved. I recommended that in the future, both the credit side as well as the marketing side of the bank conduct the interviews. The credit guy didn’t listen to me. Well, actually, he did listen.

The turnover problem was eventually solved. The credit guy suggested at one point to the management team he had solved the problem by inviting the marketing people to participate in the interview process.

Good luck and good networking.


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