In Networking is a Contact Sport, author Joe Sweeney, writes about the importance of having a wingman. A wingman, which is a military term, is someone who provides sound advice, undying support, the freedom to tell you if you’re being an idiot, and essentially is someone you can call at anytime for any reason. Many people don’t have someone designated as a “wingman” or “wingwoman” because having one requires asking for help.
So my question is if you have a wingman? Sweeney writes of the importance of a wingman in business networking; but a wingman can be just as important, if not more, in your job search. Let’s imagine you have an interview in two days, and you’re not feeling confident. You’re prepared but you’re in a funk. I’m your wingman. Because I’ve agreed to help you in any way you wish, you have been granted the freedom to call me and ask for my help. Take the following scenario.
My wife opens the bedroom door at 10:00 pm and tells me, “The phone’s for you.” You’ve got to be kidding me, I think.
“Bob,” you say when I answer the phone, “I have an interview at Company A in two days. I know I’m going to blow it. I have no idea what to expect, and I want this job more than anything. It’s perfect for me.”
First I remind you that it’s late and you could’ve called me earlier. You’re repentant and beg my forgiveness. I sense panic in your voice; actually something bordering on primal fear.
Then I remember having been appointed one of your wingmen. We’ve been in continuous communication, e-mailing or talking on the phone at least three times a week, but who’s counting. In fact, you’ve spoken with me more than you have with your mother. At times you’ve cried on my shoulder, and we’ve both cried in our beers when I was also out of a job.
I sit up in bed and shake the sleepiness from my head. My questions are focused and direct. I ask what you know about the job and company, as well as the competition. Have you studied the job description? Do you know the competencies required by the employer? Can you answer the questions that you predict will be asked, including technical and behavioral-based questions? You answer yes to every question I ask—I’m thinking, so what’s the problem?
You’re hyperventilating and have been studying the company’s website, communicating with people you know at the company verbally and via e-mail. You’ve utilized LinkedIn to make sure your résumé has been delivered to the hiring manager. You know what the salary range is and are onboard with that. The two phone interviews you’ve had have gone smashingly well. Really there’s no problem because you’re more prepared than you’ve been for any job interview in the past.
So what’s the problem, dude?”
“I’m just not emotionally prepared for this, Bob. I need your help.”
I ask you who you’ll be speaking with. You tell me the woman’s name and I think for a moment. The name is familiar, but I’m still shaking the cobwebs from my head. By now it’s 10:30 pm. I have a heavy-duty day ahead of me tomorrow and need my sleep. I finally cut you off and tell you that I can’t help you now. There’s silence.
“But here’s what we’ll do, buddy. I have an hour between workshops tomorrow, but I’ll wing the second one. I want you to show up at my office at 12:00 on the dot, no sooner, no later. You will dress like you’re at the interview. I’m going to give you an ole fashion mock interview….”
“I don’t know if I can do that….”
“Bull#$%#, you’ll be there and be ready to answer my questions. And don’t expect me to go easy on you.” Silence. “Until then, I want you to e-mail the technical questions you’ll be asked; I’ll take care of the behavioral ones.”
“Okay, Bob. I appreciate this, man. But don’t you think we should do this just before the interview? I mean you’ll have more time on Friday. It’s your prep day. I don’t want to ruin your day tomorrow”
“No, tomorrow is when we’ll do this, and tomorrow night you’ll get some sleep, maybe go out with Sharon to a movie. You know this job and company inside and out. I’m going to show you how prepared you are. We’ll talk and get your head in the game. Sound good.”
“Yeah…I appreciate this. I owe you one.”
“Yes you do. So shut up and let me get some sleep.” I click the phone off and try to drift back to sleep but can’t for awhile. It’s tough being a wingman…but I’d have it no other way. I’ll need my wingman someday, for whatever reason. I’ll need a wingman.