I have listed below insights I have discovered over the years in the personnel industry. If you have insights you would like to share, let me know–I love all aspects of learning. I heard someone say last week that a particular candidate was “a sponge for learning”. That pretty much sums up how I view the world–to learn and continue to grow. I hope you find this information helpful, and as I discover more, I will of course share more with you.
The most prevailing reason why someone looks for another position:
I will talk with a candidate about why they are seeking a new position and hear “because the commute is too long or hard” or “they are not paying me enough” and so forth. After further discussion, it generally comes down to a feeling that the employee and the company are no longer on the same page; something has changed in the perception of the employee about the company. I feel that a company is a “person” just like you and me. It is made up of people who give it a personality, a way of dealing with the world, the way it perceives itself. This “personality” is made up more by the leaders of the firm then the support staff, but all help develop its overall “person”. When something changes with the company–perhaps a new management style or a merger–the personality changes, and employees feel the company “just isn’t like it used to be”. Now the commute that was okay before is just awful, and the wages that were workable before are now no longer adequate. Knowing the “why” of seeking a new position is helpful because it becomes a map of what is important to you and what a new company’s personality needs to have to be workable.
The purpose of a resume:
I will ask a candidate the purpose of a resume and often I hear “to show my experience” or “to let the employer know what I can do” or versions along those lines. Actually, there is only one reason a resume exists–to get an interview; which now leads to the next question.
How to write a killer resume:
A great resume is a balance of knowledge and mystique. I equate it to the appetizers before dinner–tasty and interesting and you look forward to dinner, but not to the point you are full and no longer desire dinner. A resume needs to be interesting and informative–in fact, whatever are the strong points should be at the beginning of the resume–but not so much information an employer feels he/she knows you and the desire to bring you in for an interview is not as strong as it could be. Resumes should be written in neutral and positive tones. If there is something that can be viewed as negative and it is not crucial, either leave it off, or rephrase it in a more positive way.
Resumes are here to stay, at least in the immediate future, so do not underestimate the power of a well-written resume.
If the first interview is a telephone interview, remember its purpose–to get a face face interview. Do more listening then talking so you know what the main goals are that the screener or interviewer needs to meet to bring you in for a second interview. Push back acceptable answers. Because it is over the telephone, voice and inflection are important, not talking too fast or thinking too long to answer. Remember, the person on the other end of the telephone can’t see you, and therefore does not realize you are formulating an answer.
On a face to face interview, whether it is your first or a follow-up, again, listen to what is asked. Be alert and focused. Don’t talk too much. Sometimes candidates will think they need to explain, and then explain some more and then explain some more. By that time a red flag has gone up in the interviewer’s mind that you are a person who can’t get to the point or has some underlying problem. I feel that in these types of situations, “he who speaks first loses”. Say what you need to say succinctly, then stop and wait for a response, as this will tell you where the interviewer is going.
In an interview, if you are asked “what is your best quality” or “what is your worst quality”, make either quality something the company would find appealing. Best–I am a timely person. Worst–my family thinks I am a stickler as I always insist on being on time.
Interview the company back:
I hear all the time that someone has taken a position and they did not know “this” or were unaware of “that.” In a nice way, ask about turnover and if they have had turnover, why. Ask about the company goals–remember the personality of the company? You need to make sure that the goals and views of the company mostly parallel your goals and views. Try to find out on advancement potential. If you are told “yes, we do have advancement”, ask for an example and if it is in all departments or how long it takes before someone can try to move up–however, be very careful on this question as it can be misconstrued by the company that you are only interested in advancing and not necessarily in the position offered. If you are truly interested in the position, make sure they know that. To summarize: some questions are appropriate for a first interview, but most questions should be asked in later interviews.
Research the company:
There are numerous sources for information on companies available to you such as the company website, Linkedin, Googling the company to see if there are any articles or awards for the company. It also goes for the interviewer or interviewers and key people in the company. Going into an interview with knowledge about the firm is critical as it can be used to form a bond. Also, look around. You will see things about the company or the person interviewing that you might be able to comment on to form a bridge to that person.
All interviews wind down:
At the end of the interview, make sure they know you are interested in the position. Write a thank you card or send a thank you email as soon as you can after the interview. The excuse of a thank you card/email is to let the interviewer know how much you appreciate the time they took to interview you and give you an overview of their company. The reason for a thank you–to ask for the job. “I appreciate the time you spent in the interview and wanted you to know that I am very interested in this position and definitely would like to be considered going forward.” Don’t just assume they know you want to work for them.
If you are hired on the spot, consider that a red flag, especially if you have not asked any key questions. If you are promised something, such as “we know we are offering you a lower salary then what you want and will raise it to that amount at your six month review” or “you will qualify for commissions after 90 days” or “we will give you a bonus if you make so many presentations, sales, calls, whatever”, ask for it in writing, The key here is the asking more then the getting. If the person you are negotiating with starts to “sputter”, or “back pedal”, or “hem and haw” instead of saying “absolutely, it is part of our employment agreement” or “of course”, then you know you have a problem. Also, beware of employment agreements in which you promise something to the company who is hiring you, but you aren’t really getting anything in return.
A good fit or not a good fit:
What is this “fit” response? I used to hate hearing my candidate was not being offered a position because they were not a “good fit”–why? Often the hiring company did not have a great explanation, just not a “good fit”. Sometimes I have a candidate who says “I liked the position, but it just did not feel right, It did not seem like a good fit for me.” I have come to the conclusion that this “fit” goes back to the whole “personality” of the company, the paralleling of the goals and views. That is why you need to be smart when you interview and make sure the company really knows who you are and that you come away from an interview knowing the company. There are a lot of resources on the internet, in books, the job section of the newspaper–the list goes on and on–on how to do a good interview.
If you feel you are not getting anywhere and suspect it is a problem with your interviewing technique, give me a call and perhaps you and I, together, can figure out what you need to do differently or better so that you can nail your next interview and get the job you want.