Poor Interview Etiquette

Recently I had an interview experience that I haven’t had in quite sometime. I’ve had candidates cancel interviews for a variety of reasons but I can firmly say that I have never had this happen to me before.

I scheduled an interview with a candidate one week ago. Everything was great from the candidate perspective including the day and the time of the interview. My colleague and I followed up throughout the week with updates and received no concerns or conflicts from the candidate. Two-hours and two-minutes before the interview, we receive an email thanking us for the opportunity but the candidate has accepted another offer. Okay, a last minute cancelation.

This left us wondering when the offer was made.

After some very easy searching, I found a tweet that the candidate had accepted the job the same day as the interview was scheduled!

Maybe the candidate was excited for good things happening all in one day. Maybe the candidate didn’t know how to respond to an interview request. Maybe the candidate wasn’t thinking at all at that moment.

I conduct a lot of Twitter searches, Boolean searches and social media searches. I failed to follow my own rule of checking a candidates comments. I do not seek anything specific, I often just look to see how they use social media and not to make a hiring decision based upon what I find.

  • Should I have looked more often at their social media feed? Yes!
  • Should I have received a call or email well prior to the interview? Yes!

Sometimes it takes just a moment to realize what you should do and what you should not do. I certainly learned here, not sure the candidate learned anything though.

3 steps to poor interview etiquette

  1. accept a job
  2. accept a 1st interview with another company the same day as accepting the job
  3. cancel the scheduled interview with less than 2 hours notice

Lesson learned.

 

Students Get The Job Search Wrong

I attended a college career fair recently and was somewhat shocked at the conversations that occurred with me as well as a few I overheard. Granted, this was the first college career fair that I have attended in easily 10 years, which hopefully means I came into this experience with an unbiased opinion as to what would transpire.

The students who attended had one common theme: what can the company do for them. As a recruiter, this is not a question I ever want to be asked. An employer doesn’t have to do anything for a job seeker. PERIOD. End of sentence. Move along please.

What I learned is that colleges, universities, career services, and the specific “colleges” (i.e. – College of Business, College of Science, College of Education, etc.) need to drill into minds is that it isn’t about the student. The students need to focus on 6 key areas before, during and after a career fair.

Dress For Success

Yes, often overstated but seldom adhered to. Recruiters have their own preferences in this area but I am a believer in the conservative suit for men and women. What if your company is business casual or strictly casual? Come in a suit. Why? Because at a career fair you will interact with a wide variety of organizations and it is better to stay on the side of being conservative over what you wore to that 9 AM philosophy class.

Elevator Pitch

Please, please, please do not hand me your resume and try to talk with me. Put together your pitch that you will repeat 50 times in a 2 hour window to highlight your experience and sell yourself as someone a company would be missing not to have. I don’t want to hear about what classes you’ve taken either. I want to hear what you’ve done and how it will help any company.

It’s About Who?

Don’t walk up to a recruiter and say something that resembles the following: “Hi, I’m John and I’m looking for a position in Marketing. What can you do for me?” Actually, I can do nothing for you so move on. A career fair is about the company and how the student/job seeker can help the organization. Job seekers shouldn’t be confused in this aspect.

Being Prepared

This is the killer. If you show up to talk with me and say “um, I don’t know what you do but I’m looking for a career in sales.” Really? You just sold your way out of being considered for any positions I have available. The best way to get around the companies you are unfamiliar with is to…

Use Your Cell Phone

First off, turn your ringer off whenever you are in an interviewing setting. Now, if you haven’t gotten a company attendee list in the days leading up to the career fair from any of the 100 locations around campus advertising the fair, don’t worry. Have your phone at the ready and review the company’s you are unfamiliar with as you walk around. Do a walk through first to see the companies and see those you know and those you wish to learn about. Take your time and build your plan to maximize each stop.

Thank You

Identify the 3, 4 or 5 companies that you felt were of interest for you to start a career with and make sure you follow up with the recruiter. Keep it brief but show your interest and restate how you can help the company.

The entry-level job market is certainly a competitive space and students need to take every advantage of this impression. Trust me, recruiters take note of those that separate themselves from everyone else.

 

 

Photo Credit to Riverview Gardens School District and Video Credit to WorldTalkLIVE.

How Is Your Culture

Every company should always be cognizant of their company culture, no matter the size of the organization.  In these turbulent times, it is even more necessary to focus on culture.  Not only for the obvious reason of keeping productivity levels strong in a difficult market but also to keep happy employees for when the job market rebounds.

Currently working individuals are sought after in any market.  This is not to say that if you find yourself currently unemployed that you are neither less important nor less valuable, there numerous circumstances these days for employers to consider.

For those whom are currently employed, there is more of a “woo-factor” that needs to happen with the talent seeking companies.  Why?  If you are currently working then you really don’t HAVE to make a career move and you are typically better able to compare; the company’s, available projects, salary’s, benefits, work environments or whatever maybe of personal importance to you.

Having said this, if your corporate culture is not strong or conducive to your current employees then their wiliness to explore new opportunities or to actively job seek once the market improves is greatly increased.

Don’t assume that because your employees have a job and that they are busy that they are happy.  Managers need to be engaging and open to all sorts of conversations, especially now.  Attrition is a natural part of any business but retaining performers is also critical.

Make sure to keep your employees engaged, interested, and open to conversations.  Feedback can be difficult to digest which means open conversations are a must.

A great example is with a conversation I had  recently with one individual who said that her manager took her out to lunch for an open table conversation and that he wanted to know her thoughts and concerns.  She was very hesitant to participate but took him at his word and she did have a difficult conversation.  It sounded to go well and some minor changes have already been noticed in her office.

I love this for a few reasons.  First, the conversation was set up as a non-career threatening, open table conversation.  Second, the conversation took place outside of work to make it a bit more relaxing and less formal.  Third, the manager listened, was not defensive or aggressive, and began to make positive changes to his employee.

This is a learned process for everyone, and a trust factor must be there to have a real conversation, but it is good to keep that communication line open.  You may need to begin with short conversations and slowly expand them as the trust level increases.  As I said previously, the goal is to retain productive employees.

Treat your employees with respect, take time to learn their interests and passions, and help them with these areas (if possible)… then watch them remain a happy employee.

There are many ways to improve a business culture, how can you make a positive impact on retention?

Company Benefits

Graduating college years ago, the big push for my parents and my friend’s parents was to find a job and get benefits.  This was always humorous to my friends and me.  Why do I need benefits?  I am young and invincible!  OK, maybe I could get hurt in a pick up basketball game or soccer match but nothing really serious will happen.

Fortunately, nothing did happen but last week I had shoulder surgery.  Nothing major, but being in the doctors office on numerous occasions and then the surgery center and going through the prep work and through the 100+ questions about my medical history and benefit coverage did I begin to really think about my benefits for the first time.

My family is covered but I never really took time to dig into my benefits for coverage and service.  I do have a good plan which is very helpful but seeing others in the office made me consider for the first time why benefits are so important in offer negotiations.

I have been asked about benefits before, coverage’s, PPO versus HMO, out of pocket – you know the usual questions and while I know our benefit plans I never understood why they were important early in conversations.  I’m not naïve enough to not understand people have to look out for their family or certain conditions and coverage’s but when the unexpected comes up, like my procedure, then you want to make sure you are in good shape.

I am wondering if in today’s economic state if benefits are being skimped on by the majority of companies and if supplemental insurance is becoming more and more necessary.  Companies are, and have been reducing their overhead benefit expenditures for a number of years now… this is no secret.

Are benefits impacting an individual’s job search today?  Has it ever been a “deal breaker” for you?  Has it ever been something you really considered outside of being happy to have benefits?

For me, I always looked at benefits to make sure it had the basic coverage and the larger items were covered.  I do have good coverage but after this past process with my shoulder, benefits will be something that I will look at much more closely and take in a more serious light.

Social Media Expert?

Is there such thing as a social media expert?  There are many individuals out there who blog about social media and social networking, including me.  There are certainly leaders out there who have more data and insight on the topic than others but how does one sort through all the information out there to devise a plan or goal that works for you.  Ultimately, it is up to the individual to determine what their goal is and how they want to interact in each space.  I recommend reading what you have time and interest for on the subject and determine for yourself what makes sense.  What works for one person may not work for you and may not be your goal.

 

Ask yourself simple questions, here are a few samples:

• What is my ultimate goal for this site?  Job hunt, professionally network, socially network, etc.

• What information do I want to share?  Am I comfortable putting personal information and pictures on sites, do I keep it more professional or a smattering of both?

• What will be the opinion of me when others search for me and come across my information?

 

Spend some time on this and consider your options and goals, it makes all the difference.

Don’t Forget the Phone

In today’s social networking world it is great to make contacts, build new relationships and gain different perspectives from a diverse area.  Twitter is fantastic for this (find me @kufarms).  Messages, messaging, IM, cell phone applications and email all dominate the work place but don’t forget the phone.

 

Whether you are conducting a job search or looking for candidates for your jobs, don’t rely on the other mediums to convey your message.  Nothing beats speaking to someone about a position and having a discussion.

 

If you make a call for a position, either searching for a candidate or are calling for a specific position, be sensitive to the other person’s time.  You may have caught them in a meeting, at work in a tight space, or otherwise not able to speak.  Give a brief intro and ask for their time now or make an appointment for a later time.  This will often lead to the most successful path.

 

If you are a passive candidate, do the same and take the call (now or later) for only a few minutes.  One of three results may happen: (1) you are interested in the opportunity or (2) you know someone that you may direct to this opportunity or (3) you are not interested and don’t know anyone but made a contact for the future and for networking.

 

I like a method I learned from Shally Steckerl (http://jobmachine.net/shally/) during an online seminar a few years ago and that is the email, call, email method.  Day 1 = email, day 2 = call and day 3 = email follow up.  This is a good approach but I have revised this to the call, email, call method which sometimes works a bit better.  Ultimately, if you are able to know your potential audience and have all contact information then you are able to use either method.

 

Use all of the tools available to you just don’t forget the phone.

Be prepared

The time will come when you will either consider or be forced to look for a new position.  There should always be a few things on your mind in these times.

 

Active or passive.

Active is when you are fully engaged in a search and you are more in “selling” mode than anything else.  Make it your job, or second job.  Spend the time to research companies, positions, chat boards, post questions on Twitter, etc.  Active candidates are also in a touchy area, don’t over sell and don’t undersell.  Know when to speak, when to add details and when to be precise with your answers.  Companies are interviewing numerous candidates for each position and you want to make sure you are at the top of the list.  This is really the bread and butter for recruiters, have a req fill a req and move on.  Make sure you are prepared even when a recruiter calls without notice.  If you need to, schedule a time to speak with them when you may provide your undivided attention and to make the best impression.

 

Passive is when you have a job and receive calls.  The candidate believes they have the control of these conversations because they do not have to do anything, but this is where top recruiters prove themselves.  Recruiters will turn this more into a conversation, probing and networking are commonly the most advantageous avenues to proceed.  Candidates need to remember it is all about perception so be courteous even if interest is low.

 

Jobs

Keep a list of what you apply for.  I know we are in a paperless world, or strive to be.  Figure out what works for you in your job search.  Create folders for positions or companies will help you to straighten positions out.

 

If you print them out, put them in folders, labeled with a copy of the position from the site where you applied and a copy of your resume (only if you have multiple copies of your resume that you distribute).  This will allow you better organization for follow up and, when the recruiter calls, you will be able to immediately refer to your notes.

 

If you save them on your computer, create a folder (Job Search) and copy/paste a document folder for easy access.

 

Both work, what is your preference.

 

Network

Networking isn’t always about being social.  Sure, there are the social sites (Facebook and MySpace) and the professional sites (ZoomInfo, LinkedIn and Spoke) but it is good to mix your messages at times.  If you are active (and not working), let people know if they hear of anything to let you know.  If you are active (and working), obviously be more discreet in your advertising.  If you are passive, just keep your name out there just in case… it never hurts.

 

These are three quick tips to keep in your mind throughout your career.