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Interview Two Way Street

As a job applicant, there are many social rules that are necessary to follow. These help to increase your chances of being taken seriously as a candidate. On the flip side, there are also rules the company should follow when they interview candidates. These give the company the best chances of attracting the best candidates.

Let’s start with the rules job seekers must follow. The list is long because so much riding on first impressions.

Your communication must be quick, concise and clear. You should dress appropriately. You should be on time to the job interview. If you don’t keep your commitment to the time of the interview, chances are high that you will be immediately dropped from the consideration set. If you’ve been given homework during the interview process, you should return it promptly. And, after the interview, you should follow up with thank you notes or emails quickly.

Any misstep in these social rules and the company will drop you in favor of another candidate.

The problem is, companies often forget that this is a dance. It involves two parties. But, in a job market like the one today, job seekers have more choices. They can also walk away when the company doesn’t follow social rules.

For companies, the social rules are fewer, but they are equally important. The company should follow up with candidates promptly to schedule interviews and to provide feedback during the process.

The hiring manager should be on time to interviews. They should arrive prepared, having read the candidate’s resume. They should be attentive and respectful. The company should avoid making the interview process too long or too time consuming. They should work not to ask questions that are too personal (and illegal). The company should be honest.

But most of all, they should be respectful of a candidate’s time. When a candidate chooses to interview with a company, they’re putting a lot on the line. It takes time to prepare for an interview. The candidate must take off work, or find a quiet time to take an interview during work hours.

The thing that seems quite shocking is just what a one-way street the interview process often is. Companies treat candidates as if their own behavior doesn’t influence the candidate. The interviewer will often show up late. They’ll ask to reschedule at the last moment. When the interview does happen, they’re often unprepared. They will ask questions that are illegal, forcing the candidate to play along in order to be considered. They keep the candidate in the dark for months about the status of the job interview. And, in the end, if they extend an offer, they expect the candidate to be excited to work for them.

In a bad job market, this may work because people are desperate. In today’s market, companies need to spend as much time being respectful to candidates as candidates spend being respectful to them.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

This job interview is downright chilling!

Happy Halloween! In celebration, I want to share one of my own frightening job interview stories.

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.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Panel Interview Fears

Have you ever had a panel interview? It’s one of those job interviews where you show up and instead of one person interviewing you, three do. Or, if you’re really lucky, five or six will. I’m not talking about a situation where you have one interview after another. I’m talking about a single interview where you’re facing off with multiple people at a time around a single table.

If you interview people, you should know that panel interviews are scary for the candidate. I’ve seen this at all levels, from right out of college to senior executives. Very rarely are people comfortable with this kind of interview format. If your goal is to be welcoming, avoid this interview setup if you can. Or, provide as much information to the candidate ahead of time so they can prepare.

If you’re the candidate, you should know that the company doesn’t intend to scare you. They have probably scheduled you for a panel interview because it takes less time. They can interview you all at once. Also, a panel interview is not a place where you’ll find yourself attacked by the panelists.

In your mind, you may picture an adversarial meeting at work. It’s you versus a team of people when something goes wrong. But, that should not be the case in a panel interview. You don’t yet work at the company and should be welcoming and kind.

In a panel interview, it’s very likely that each person will have one or two predetermined questions they will ask you. And, it’s also possible that not everyone in the room is excited to be there. They may also be nervous. Or, they may be doing the hiring manager a favor by participating in the panel.

Before you have a panel interview, ask the human resources recruiter for an agenda of the people you’ll be talking to. Use that agenda to research each person, so you’ll be prepared in advance. During the interview, stay calm and be friendly. Treat each person equally and with respect. Be sure to shake the hand of everyone you meet.

Afterward, send each person a thank you email. Don’t send one mass email. Send a separate email for each individual person. If you can, customize each email to reflect something that aligns to the person’s background or something they honed in on during your interview. But, keep it positive. Don’t use the emails to apologize. Thank the person for their time and keep going. If you’re feeling especially interested in a role, take the time to also send a hand written thank you note to every person. If you do this, you’ll very likely be the only candidate who did – and it will make you stand out in a good way.

Remember: every interview is practice for the next one. And, you don’t have to answer every question perfectly to get a job offer.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Job Search Dinner Party Etiquette

The title of this column may sound funny. After all, you’re looking for a new job, not a steak and baked potato. On the surface, you’re right, but there are lessons you can carry over from your dinner tonight to your job interview tomorrow morning.

Like a dinner party, you never know who you might be introduced to when you’re searching for a job. When you go for an interview, it’s important to be friendly to each person you meet – whether they’re the intern or the CEO.

At dinner, there are also three topics universally considered impolite to discuss: religion, politics and money. Religion is obvious, since you often don’t know which religion someone may be, or if they practice any religion at all. Politics make sense too.

During the job hiring process, many people will review your resume and your cover letter. Some you may never meet and others you will spend hours with during the hiring process. During the interview, it will be difficult to distinguish someone’s religious affiliations or political beliefs. Making an assumption about someone else’s beliefs may easily lead you down the wrong path.

Although you may feel very strongly about your views, it’s important to consider one thing. Is it more important that everyone you meet during your interview process knows your personal views, or is it more important that you get a job?

The purpose of an interview is for your future employer to make judgments about you. They want to decide whether or not you would make a good fit for a particular role. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to distract them or turn them off by wearing jeans, you should also avoid the pitfall of sharing your personal views.

The best policy is to brand yourself with your educational and work-related achievements. Focus on these in your resume, cover letter and in-person discussions. Downplay things like religion and politics that will distract from these points.

Talking about money during dinner can create tension. In an interview, discussing money is not recommended because you may harm your chances of receiving the highest possible salary. The saying goes that in negotiations, whoever speaks of money first is the loser. Keep this in mind, and allow the interviewer to show their cards before you do.

After a dinner party, you tell the host thank you. You should also take the time to thank the company that interviewed you. They hosted you. They have put schedules on hold, setup meetings, and sometimes have even flown you in. At a minimum, send a thank you note via email to each person you meet.

The only exceptions are when you are applying for a religious or political organization with whom your personal views align. In that case, you may be more open. But remember, not everyone at the organization may share the organization’s views, so be sensitive in how you share.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Step One

If you’ve interviewed lately, you know the first step of a job interview is a phone screen. After you apply for a job, a recruiter from the company will reach out to you. They’ll ask to setup a time to meet.

In the phone screen, the recruiter will ask predictable questions. They say, “Tell me about yourself.” Then, they’ll ask follow up questions. “Why are you interested in the job? Why are you looking for a job?” They may also ask how you heard about the job, or how much expertise you have in a certain area. And, they’ll ask how much money you want.

It’s pretty standard. The one question I have seen lately that is shocking however is this. At the very end of the interview, the recruiter will say, “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?” Read that again. “After this call, can you email me a copy of your resume?”

This seems like an odd question, right? What I’m getting at is this. Some recruiters are interviewing job applicants without having a copy of their resume. They aren’t downloading it ahead of time from the application. They are going into an interview cold, without knowing anything about the candidate. They’re asking random questions. They are completely and totally unprepared. And that is how they’re making important hiring decisions for the company.

As a candidate, I suppose you may want to start off an interview by checking to see that the recruiter has a copy of your resume. However, this question really seems like it may introduce an odd dynamic to the conversation.

HR leaders, if you are reading this, please take note. This is a genuine problem. I’ve observed many examples of this lately. If you’re a company, I know you want to hire the best people. And, you certainly don’t want to waste a candidate’s time. After all, candidates study for interviews. They memorize your job description. They scour the internet to learn about your company. They practice their answers to common interview questions. They prepare their own questions. And, often, they ask friends and family for help. This is a huge effort to go through for a recruiter to show up unprepared.

If you’re looking for a job, I don’t have a ton of great ideas for this problem. Honestly, the lack of accountability baffles me. And, companies are using these folks as the gate keepers. Sure, many recruiters are helpful. But, even one absent minded recruiter can really cause problems with an entire hiring process.

Companies, it’s past time that we hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold candidates to. It’s time to show up on time and prepared for our interviews. If we don’t have something we need in order to participate in an interview, we should ask for that piece of information before the interview begins. It’s step one.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Ethical Interviewing

When a company is looking to hire someone, finding the right candidate takes time. There are often multiple phone screens, multiple video interviews, and in person panel interviews. In some cases, there are homework assignments, IQ tests, personality tests, and drug tests. Typically, there are reference checks. Sometimes job seekers provide writing samples or portfolios of their work.

Thinking about this makes me tired. Don’t you agree? The point is, going through a job search is a ton of work – on both sides. As you can imagine, it’s very important that the job seeker is honest and up front with the company. If they misrepresent their work in any way, the company won’t be able to make the best hiring decision.

On the flip side of this coin, it’s very important that the company is honest and up front with the candidate. What could I possibly mean by that? Well, did you know that sometimes companies will interview candidates when there isn’t really a job available?

That sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it? How could that possibly happen? First, it does happen. I recently witnessed someone go through fifteen rounds of interviews with one company. At the end, the person was notified that they were the top choice candidate, but that the team wasn’t authorized to hire anyone.

I don’t think the company meant any harm by this decision. I think they truly hoped they would get approval for the position, but just never did.

But, let’s think of this from the candidate’s perspective. The candidate turned down other interviews to attend these fifteen interviews. The candidate missed their own work meetings to go to these interviews. The candidate made a lot of sacrifices of their time over months in order to make this work. They made these choices because they were investing in an opportunity that the candidate wanted.

When the company shared with the candidate that they wouldn’t be able to hire them, the company never apologized. It seems clear that the company didn’t realize how much they personally impacted that job seeker. The company never thought about the other opportunities the person walked away from to focus on them.

This is where ethics come in. Interviewing candidates for a job isn’t the same as test driving cars at the dealership. They’re real people. If you don’t select someone because they weren’t the best candidate, no problem. And, if the job was canceled midway through the process, well, life happens sometimes. But, if you are interviewing candidates when you know there is not approval for a job, and you aren’t disclosing that information to the candidate in the first conversation, you are being an unethical hiring manager. The candidate should be able to decide if this role is important enough to prioritize it, considering the potential risk involved.

Let’s agree to be honest and up front. Ethics are important. Transparency is important.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach