Years ago, I interviewed for a job in Pittsburgh. I flew in late at night, with the interview scheduled first thing the next morning. As I unpacked, I realized I had forgotten the pants to my suit. My mind was racing as I went through the options of what to do.
Could I wear the pants I’d flown there in? No, they were sweatpants. Could I call a cab to take me to a mall? No, it was late and everything was closed. Could I have a pair of pants shipped to me from home? No, all the shippers were closed for the day.
This brainstorming went on for an hour. I wracked my brain as I tried to think of a creative solution to this big problem.
It turned out, packages could be dropped off directly at the airport until around midnight for FedEx, and could be delivered by six the next morning. The only catch was getting the pants to the airport.
My apartment manager was the only one with a key to my apartment, but I didn’t have her phone number. So, I called a neighbor who was friends with another neighbor who had a dog that the building manager walked every day. I knew he would have the building manager’s phone, and I knew my other neighbor had the dog owner’s phone number.
After a few calls, I found the building manager’s phone number. I called and asked her to give my key to a friend who was willing to drive the pants to the airport. My friend entered my apartment and called to locate the correct pair of pants. Then, he drove them to FedEx, and mailed them.
Afterward, I alerted the hotel desk to contact me the moment the pants arrived—which they did. The interview went smoothly and nobody noticed anything unusual.
One of the questions they asked was, “Tell us about a time you encountered a problem and were able to find a creative way to solve it.” It was the perfect opportunity to share my story. The interviewers were both surprised and impressed. What started as a nightmare turned out to be a big win!
I don’t remember if I got that job, but I do remember that the interview went well.
The lesson: When it comes to job interviews, don’t expect everything to go perfectly. There’s often something that will go wrong. If you can plan on that thing, it’s much easier to roll with the punches and have a positive experience.
Interviewing is not about answering every question correctly. The hiring manager is more likely to remember how they felt about you than how you answered each question. It’s like going to a live comedy show. You don’t remember each joke, but you remember whether you had a good time.
If you’re a manager, you will sometimes be in the market to hire someone new. Have you ever found yourself in this situation, but there are just no good candidates? Everyone you’re interviewing is a dud. Does that sound familiar? If so, it may be time to look in the mirror.
If you’re relying on recruiters to find the best candidates (and you’re having trouble), there may be something you don’t know. Don’t get me wrong. Many recruiters are amazing. They can sift through stacks of resumes and find just the perfect candidates.
Then there are the other recruiters. They are doing you and your company a disservice. But, you’d never know it. Why not? Well, because as a candidate, if you complain, you’ll be eliminated. Nobody wants to hire a complainer. And, if you (the candidate) complain after you’ve been eliminated, then you’re just the sore loser.
So, what could go wrong that it might impact hiring? The biggest issue is that some recruiters are unwilling to take the candidate into consideration. Their opinion is that if the candidate wants the job, they’ll make themselves available. A recruiter may contact the candidate with only an hour or so of notice to request an interview. Or, they may call with no notice at all.
They believe the company and the hiring manager are very busy people. The candidate should cater to them. In many ways, this is true. But, a great candidate is not available all day, waiting for interviews. Successful folks have things to do. And, they have commitments to their existing company that they need to keep.
As a hiring manager, how would you feel if the recruiter expected you to interview someone with only an hour of notice? That would be a little strange, right? Now, imagine you weren’t just asking questions; you were answering them.
Very often, recruiters are also late to interviews or they miss them completely. They expect the candidate to understand that something came up. It’s also not uncommon for a recruiter to interview a candidate without ever having seen their resume.
Add to this list illegal questions. It’s not uncommon for a recruiter to ask the candidate about their marital status or whether or not they have kids. The candidate rarely objects to these questions, but I can assure you that they take note.
Candidate experience is real. More companies should give candidates a way to give feedback on their experience. Instead, candidates are never asked about how they felt. I do believe a candidate should be as flexible as they can. They’re selling themselves after all. But, if you expect the candidate to drop everything multiple times, you’re going to end up with the candidates who don’t have much going on professionally. You won’t be happy with the selection.
If you can’t seem to find good candidates, it may be time to look in the mirror.
If you’re working from home, you may be as productive as ever. You can focus without interruption. There are no long chats around the water cooler. There’s no wasted time commuting. You can wake up and get straight to work. There’s a good chance you may be skipping breaks and lunch. You’ve started to find your work from home groove.
But, one thing we’re definitely doing less of at work is small talk. When is the last time you asked about a colleague’s weekend? How are their children doing? How is the pandemic impacting them from day to day? When is the last time you had lunch with someone you work with? If you’re like millions of Americans, it’s been a while. It may have even been since early March.
On the surface, this is no big deal. You’re saving time. You’re more efficient. And, work is about work. Right? Sure, to some degree this is true. But, work is also about relationships. In fact, very often, your project may get done on time if you have a good relationship with your colleagues.
And, the thing is, relationships don’t form out of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations alone. They are formed when we spend time together. They’re formed between meetings. They’re those small moments when we exchange pleasant words that are unrelated to work. Relationships form over sandwiches and coffee.
If you’re struggling at work more now than you were before COVID, it may be time to rethink your day to day interactions. The same social distancing that’s keeping us safe from disease is also dividing us. We’re more disconnected than we were in the past, especially when working from home is new.
What can you do? Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution. But, there are many ideas you can try. You may want to take the time to call colleagues when you don’t need something specific. Or, take a moment in the beginning of meetings to ask how folks are doing. Consider setting up virtual social occasions. You might organize a coffee or a virtual happy hour with a colleague. You could consider organizing a book club or a virtual exercise group. Although some of these things may sound silly, they’re also a way to create connection and build your relationships.
As you’re working to create this connection, there is something to keep in mind. First, everyone is having a tough time in some way, on some days. Every person is in a unique situation, so it’s hard to predict when they’re having a tough time. When your coworker is having a difficult day, it will be harder to tell than when you are in person. Try your best to be patient.
It’s all a little weird right now. But, we may be working from home for a while. It’s time to find new and different ways to make small talk and to build big relationships.
The letters WFH used to be mainly used by the tech industry. But, as work from home is becoming more common, so is the use of this important acronym. In the last six months, working from home has gone from an exception to a norm. But, if you’re like many employees, your company may be asking you to come back to work in person.
For many of the folks I have spoken to, returning to an in person work environment just doesn’t work right now. So, what can you do when your boss asks you to come back?
It’s tricky. Start by being honest. If you have a preexisting condition that makes you high risk for COVID complications, you may want to consider sharing it. Normally, I would never advise to share private health details with your boss. But, it may help them to understand why you need to continue to work from home.
The same applies for family situations. If you have aging parents who you help to care for, share your concerns. If you are being forced to home school your children, be up front about it. And, if your spouse has a high risk job where they work with the public, share your concerns about possibly infecting your office if you were to become infected.
These are all good reasons to keep working from home – especially if you’ve been doing it since March. Your boss’ biggest concern should be whether or not you’re getting your job done. When you approach them with this request, focus on your ability to do your work.
Outline the hours you plan to keep each day. Since your boss cannot see you, it may help to know you’re keep regular office hours from home. Set expectations around how you will communicate. If you plan to check email during certain hours, let them know. If you’ve available to video chat during meetings, share that. And, if you are available by text, say that too. The more your boss feels they can count on you, the more likely they will be to allow you to continue to work from home.
If you’re interviewing for a new job, this is something you’ll likely want to discuss at some point during the interview process. Given that this could be a point of negotiation for you, you may want to save it until you reach the offer stage of the job interview. You may be surprised though at just how many companies are willing to be flexible with work from home now. And, some companies that require you to move to their city are allowing you to delay the move until after COVID is finished.
If you believe you need to work from home for any reason, it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. It doesn’t mean your boss will agree. But, if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get it.
During this difficult season, finding a new job feels complicated and often nearly impossible. However, online there are a few options you should check out if you want to make a switch. As usual, you should check for job postings on sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. But, you should also look for special events. In particular, Indeed has put together an hiring event that may help you if you’re looking for a new job.
Indeed.com has launched a Virtual Hiring Tour across the United States. Their goal is to help 20,000 people get hired for new jobs.
“With unemployment at record high levels, our mission of helping people get jobs has never felt more important. This Virtual Hiring Tour is designed to help people from all backgrounds – essential workers to licensed professionals – quickly find roles, in a way that is safe and effective,” said Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed.
The Indeed Virtual Hiring Tour is made up of online events that are broken out by region across the country. The events will use Indeed’s video technology to help with interviews.
Indeed is also partnering with Goodwill Industries International, to ensure that job seekers are aware of the hiring tour and are able to participate if they’re interested.
“Even before the pandemic, millions of people were stuck on the employment sidelines, struggling to find work. Today, they are even more anxious about their prospects, but we want to assure them that we are here to help,” said Hyams.
The Western United States event was held earlier in September. The event for the South is being held from September 29 to October 2. The Midwest is being held October 13 to October 16. The Northeast is being held October 20 to October 23.
Job seekers can register for free. Once on the site, you’ll also find interview tips and tricks, including what to wear to a virtual interview, how to prepare for your interview, and how to find out if the job you’re interviewing for is remote. There are both presentations and videos available on the site to walk you through the interview process.
In addition, if you click on the region of the country where you’re interested to work, you’ll find a list of jobs currently posted to the hiring tour. From there, you can RSVP for an interview. You’ll see how many interview spots are available for each job.
To learn more about the Indeed Virtual Hiring Tour, you should visit indeed.com/virtualhiringtour.
The pandemic is one of the hardest things we’ll ever face. Remember that you’re not in this by yourself. Often when we job search, we hope friends and family will help. But, it is more common for someone you don’t know to be the one to help. Don’t stop looking. Look for events like this one, and check with your university to see what additional events they may be organizing.