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6 Ways to Turn Today’s Silver Medal Candidates into Tomorrow’s Gold Medalist Hires

How often have you progressed through the hiring process and ultimately realized that your final two candidates were almost evenly matched–one just slightly nudged out the other for the gold medal employment offer? While it’s great to be in that kind of position as the employer, it can be tough to turn down a talented second choice candidate.

However, these “silver medal candidates” pose a significant opportunity for your company and great care should be taken to continuously engage them. You never know when you may need them to step up to a gold medal platform in your organization.

Have you already had the opportunity to groom silver medal candidates into eventual hires? Or, perhaps you were previously a second choice candidate that was later given the opportunity to finish first for a different role. If so, then you understand that with thoughtful practices in place, your employer can leverage a silver medalist pipeline to edge out competition by sourcing top talent quickly and in a cost effective manner. In this blog, I’ll share six behaviors that you can implement to foster enduring positive relationships with your silver medalist applicants.

1 – Set expectations from the start

So much of the content I write underscores the importance of setting clear expectations in the hiring process–but it’s so true. This critical step begins before you ever know someone will end up as your silver medalist candidate for a role. An expectation that is a part of any respectful hiring process is that the recruiter or hiring manager should tell the candidate

  • the milestones involved with the hiring process,
  • an estimate of process duration, and
  • the method by which the candidate will be informed of his/her status during and at the end of the cycle.

The added bonus of setting expectations well is that this behavior naturally forces accountability. After all, a recruiter who doesn’t follow through with what he says he’ll do is going to damage his reputation, as well as the employment brand of the organization.

2 – Promptly communicate

To reinforce the expectations set at the beginning of the hiring process, employers should communicate with candidates regularly and promptly. Even with multiple job requisitions open and oodles of candidates, there’s no excuse not to touch base with applicants thanks to the communication automation tools that are capable of candidate personalization available in applicant tracking systems.

While it can induce less stress to communicate with candidates earlier in the process, it can be trickier to do so with the final two candidates…particularly if the top pick is reviewing an employment offer you already extended while the silver medalist waits to hear if she is still in contention. If a deadline passes while you wait on an answer from your gold medalist, message the silver medalist to explain that circumstances have changed and that you will touch base with her again in a reasonable amount of time. Then, make sure you do.

Timely communication shows your respect for the candidate, and even if she doesn’t make the cut this time, she’ll remember how you treated her and the resulting word of mouth will more favorably represent your company.

3 – Reject expertly

No one likes delivering bad news, but when there are only two candidates left in your hiring process and they’ve both invested a great deal of time completing employment applications, taking assessments and interviewing, you owe the silver medalist a formal let-down. Call him–don’t just email (or worse yet, an automated email)!

And if that’s hard, make yourself accountable heading into the final phase interview by telling him (in the expectations period, remember?) that he will receive a phone call either way at the end of the process.

Then, also follow up with an email thank you and let him know of your sincere, continued interest in him for future roles within your company. Tell him how to learn about future job postings via your ATS job alert feature, and be honest about how often you might hire for positions that fall into his wheelhouse.

4 – Connect for future follow-up

During the phone call and email thank you, let the candidate know that you’re open to connecting on social media (if you haven’t already) so that you have an easy means of staying in touch with each other in the future. This is a great way for the candidate to be exposed to future career-related content that you may personally post or that is shared from your company social media profiles.

If your organization isn’t likely to be hiring relevant roles anytime soon, offer to help the silver medalist by connecting her with others in your network through virtual introductions.

To help prepare the candidate to go for the gold at the next job opportunity, make her aware of resources that might help her improve her job-related skills or knowledge (e.g. certification study courses, industry-related member associations, etc.).

5 – Nurture candidates with technology tools

Use your applicant tracking software features to designate talented second place finishers as great future candidates for other roles. Use applicant status codes or tags to mark them as “#silver,” for example. Or, better yet, “#futuregold!”

Then, it will be easy to target this group of candidates to share culture- and job-related content with them periodically. Take it a step further and observe how they interact with social media posts and engage in follow-up. Make note of their connectivity in their candidate profile within your hiring software so that future hiring managers and recruiters in your organization have a rich record of not only their potential qualification for other roles, but also their organizational engagement.

6 – Put silver medalists on the fast track

A surefire way to disengage silver medal candidates is to make them reinvent the wheel to apply to future roles that interest them. Consider that they’ve already gone through your entire selection process, so there must be opportunities to put them on the fast track for certain roles.

If you proactively source them for a new position, do the equivalent of giving them a “bye” in your recruiting tournament and start them at a later stage in the hiring process. The one exception to this may be if your organization/industry must adhere to certain compliance requirements that necessitate each individual experiencing every stage for a position.

Nevertheless, your applicant tracking system should make it easy for them to optionally pull forward previous resumes and standard application questions, while giving them the opportunity to answer job-related questions that are unique to the new role for which they are applying.

If they previously took an employee assessment that you use for many job categories, then there’s no need for them to retake it. And, especially if they are interviewing for a similar position the second time around–and you specifically invited them to apply–consider taking an informal approach with a coffee conversation to gauge the candidate’s interest, and to find out what’s new as it relates to the position and their career.

 

With proper grooming of silver medalist candidates, it will cost fewer staff hours to assess and hire the best candidates for the position because they will already be ready to go in your talent pipeline.

Choose Right HR Software | ExactHire

15 Tips for Improving Emotional Intelligence in the Recruiting Process

I love learning more about human behavior’s impact on employee engagement and corporate culture. I guess that’s par for the course in the human resources field. But specifically, the idea that emotional intelligence is an adaptable skill that can improve—or regress—based on an awareness of one’s emotions is fascinating to me.

I recently listened to Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry during a few of my lengthy morning commutes. I say “morning” because I generally only have the focus to pay attention to a book narrator in the early morning hours…by the end of the day I just need to decompress with music. Alas, one of my “a-ha” moments during the book was learning to truly be self-aware of my own prime times and circumstances for optimal listening. In fact, “self-awareness” is one of the four primary parts of emotional intelligence (EQ):

  • Personal competence
    • Self-awareness
    • Self-management
  • Social competence
    • Social awareness
    • Relationship management

In this blog, I’ll share fifteen golden nuggets I collected from Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and briefly relate how each of them are especially applicable for recruiters to bear in mind during the recruiting process.

SELF-AWARENESS

 

1 – Think about what you are feeling when you are in the moment

As a recruiter, there may be times when you lose your composure or are, at the very least, mildly annoyed:

  • When a candidate blurts out an unexpected answer that you don’t appreciate.
  • When a hiring manager doesn’t get back to you with feedback in a timely manner.
  • When an interviewee shows up late to an interview.

By being aware of how you feel about a situation, you’re better equipped to recognize your feelings before they have an undesired impact on others. Then, you may instead take positive action to improve a situation–even if you didn’t cause it to go poorly. According to Bradberry’s book, the more you think about your feelings and how you wish to act, the more you strengthen the pathway between your brain’s limbic system (where emotions originate) and the part of your brain that helps you think rationally.

2 – Pay attention to the ripple effect your emotions have on others

Even the subtlest emotions–contentment, moodiness, irritation, nervousness and bashfulness–can have an impact on those around you. And as we already know, the more extreme examples of happiness, sadness, anger, fear and shame can significantly affect social situations and outcomes. Check yourself during your next candidate interactions to see how your most basic emotions may be influencing the recruiting process–for better or worse.

  • How has your personal demeanor impacted an interviewee’s answer?
  • Does your attitude perturb (or elevate) other stakeholders during the hiring process?

3 – Be aware of your physical reactions to situations

Whether you’ll admit it or not, the range of physical responses you experience during certain emotions varies from barely perceptible (though still detectable) to obnoxiously obvious. If you’re like many of us, you may do the following:

  • Tap your fingers when you’re getting impatient with an interviewee’s lengthy question response…or bounce your leg up and down under the table (I’m guilty of the latter).
  • Redden in the face or neck when someone says something that upsets or embarrasses you.

And while you can’t necessarily prevent these responses from happening, you can use them as the first clue that you’re heading down the path of experiencing a certain emotion so that you can take positive action to keep your composure and minimize the impact.

4 – Determine why you do what you do

Instead of simply reacting, consider why you behave in a certain way when experiencing various emotions. This may be just the ticket for better controlling the strength of your response–you don’t have to revert to your signature behavior just because it’s the way you’ve always done it.

  • Is your response rooted in a need to control a situation…or perhaps a desire to not have to be in control?
  • Are you worried about being ashamed if you mess up in front of your peers at your employer?

Once you’ve identified your motivations for behavior, then you may consider whether you may make any adjustments to eliminate your need to act that way in the future. Or conversely, what can you do to encourage more of the same behavior in the future when you are experiencing positive emotions?

SELF-MANAGEMENT

 

5 – Just smile

This is old news, yet so easily forgotten. Smile when you are on the phone with a prospective employee or during a face-to-face interview. Bradberry’s book shares that, in this scenario, your face actually sends signals to your brain that make you happier.

6 – Schedule time to ponder

When you have ten different requisitions for which you are sourcing and you feel like you must schedule back-to-back phone interviews all day long, you’re not at your best. You can’t sustain that level of activity while having the best outcomes for all involved in the recruiting process for long.

Schedule blocks of time to decompress and think about candidate responses and make notes before making any decisions. That way, any emotions you were already feeling about certain candidates will be somewhat dissipated and you’ll be in a better position to process rational thoughts about each individual’s qualifications for a position.

7 – See your own success in advance

When I played basketball as a kid, my coach taught me to see the ball going into the hoop as you are shooting it. Visualization is an important tool to being successful in your endeavors…and it helps improve your free throw percentage, too. Once you’ve identified a situation that may cause you to lose your cool–even mildly–imagine yourself coming out of the scenario with a positive outcome.

The next time a hiring manager brushes you off and doesn’t respect your desire to get back to candidates promptly, visualize your conversation and actions with the HM instead of reverting to your normal response of annoyance, anger and/or helplessness.

8 – Keep your circadian rhythms in rhythm

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes struggle to put your laptop away once the kids are in bed. In order for you to be the most alert during the day, you need to give yourself the best chance for good sleep at night. Turn the computer off at least two hours before bedtime…stop screening applicants while watching DVR!

SOCIAL AWARENESS

 

9 – Greet people using their name frequently

Everyone loves hearing his own name. Be sure and use prospective employees’ first names at an appropriate frequency during the interview process. If you’re the type of person that forgets a person’s name as soon as he tells you, then think of a mental image that will help you remember new acquaintances’ names. For example, if you meet a “Sandy,” picture her standing on a sandy beach.

10 – Be prepared for awkward silences

As a business professional, there will be times when you hit an uncomfortable lull in conversation in the workplace. While it likely won’t be on a phone interview, maybe it’s while giving an office tour to a final stage candidate. Have a “go-to” question in mind to circumvent those awkward silences. After all, part of your job as a recruiter is to make interviewees feel at ease at your organization. Here are some casual conversation question ideas:

  • Have you read any good books lately?
  • Is there anything about our organization that you’ve learned, but weren’t expecting?

11 – Don’t think ahead, just listen

Personally, this is an area in which I know I have room to improve…slowly but surely! Whether you’re interviewing individuals or working with your peers at your employer, don’t try to plan your next comment while “listening” to someone else speak. That’s not really listening and you’re bound to miss details…or at least the context of some of one’s comments. Whether or not the other person acknowledges your failure to focus, his behavior and respect for you will reflect his attitude about your inattention. Listen and learn from others’ talking points first and foremost.

12 – Be punctual

How many blogs have you read about job seekers complaining about never hearing back from companies…or hearing one promise, and receiving another outcome? Too many to count from my end. Respect the time of others and give yourself a competitive advantage–because enough recruiters and hiring managers out there don’t bother.

  • Be prompt with phone interviews.
  • Mind the clock so that interviews don’t exceed the allotted time expectation.
  • When scheduling interviews, be as flexible as possible with candidates to accommodate their own schedule limitations.

RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

 

13 – Accept feedback famously

Some people are better at receiving constructive criticism than others…and what an opportunity to strengthen your EQ and your relationships if you can do it well! Solicit suggestions from job candidates and hiring managers about how the hiring process may be improved. Then, smile (remember #5!), be gracious about feedback and communicate plans for any action steps as a result of the feedback.

14 – Acknowledge the feelings of others

Let’s face it…you’re never going to agree with everyone about everything. However, the way you work through differences of opinions will certainly influence how smooth your interactions (and future disagreements) are with the same stakeholders in the future. It’s okay to disagree, but don’t minimize or ignore the feelings of others.

If you’re disputing which candidates should be hired with hiring managers, respect their opinion as valid before trying to come to a consensus, compromise or action step for further candidate vetting.

15 – Don’t be shy about having hard conversations

If you can have tough conversations in a clear, professional manner, then people will respect you more and know that you’re being upfront with them. The alternative approaches of avoidance and/or insincere sugar-coating only delay the inevitable and cause turmoil for yourself and others involved. Especially when delivering bad news to the final candidates who don’t get an employment offer, be courteous and give them a call to break the news and thank them for their time. Be direct but kind.

If you have not read any EQ-focused books yet, consider picking one up soon to continue exploring techniques for how you may improve your personal and social competence. Any improvements you can make will not only serve you well professionally, but also your employer as you represent the organization in the recruiting process.

 

Make time to boost your recruitment EQ

When you can save time and stay organized, you’re able to focus on your emotions and relationships. HireCentric is applicant tracking software that manages your entire recruitment process so you can focus on the more strategic aspects of recruiting.

 

Think Before You Hire! 10 Common Mistakes Made in Rushing the Recruitment Process

Hiring is one of the most critical tasks and challenges an organization faces. Yet, unfortunately, too many approach it as transactional or don’t allocate the proper attention, priority and resources towards it. Even with a gainfully employed talent acquisition staff, the struggle to keep up with today’s hiring needs promotes a rushed approach to the recruitment process.

When you rush through the hiring process, you make mistakes and miss critical steps. You may be in such a hurry, you hire “good enough.” This will ultimately become a problem. If you want a top performing team you can’t settle for good enough. Fortunately there are some common mistakes you can avoid if you are aware of them and slow down enough to address them.

1 – Failure to Clearly Define the Role

Rushing a hiring decision and overlooking a few critical steps can lead to a host of problems. One of the most critical steps is ensuring a clearly defined role description that contains essential functions, skills required to do the job, competencies required to be successful, and in some cases the environmental factors. Namely, the hiring decision is not based on the use of objective data such as a clearly defined role description. In the absence of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, candidate selection is left up to opinion and extremely subjective decision making.

2 – No Interviewing Plan

Failing to plan for making any business decision is not good. Failing to plan your interviews and questions will almost guarantee an ultimately adverse outcome to your hiring decisions. When you fail to plan your interview, you end up just having a conversation. Then your decision is based on whether or not you enjoyed the conversation.

3 – Asking “Yes” and “No” Questions

Typically this is a result of not having an interviewing plan as well as an untrained interviewer. Avoid, at all costs, asking questions that elicit a yes or no answer. It doesn’t tell you anything about the candidate and he/she will almost always give you the answer you want to hear. This is where a planned process will call for behavioral based interview questions.

4 – Asking Leading Questions

In an interview, you will naturally draw a 50% conclusion by the time your first handshake is over. Right, wrong or indifferent, it happens. If that initial conclusion is positive, you will want to see one succeed in the interview. Without knowing it you will actually help the candidate answer the questions correctly. In doing so, your subconscious will take over and you’ll begin to lead him/her to the answer you’re seeking. A savvy candidate will pick up on it and give you the answer you want. Thus, you completely missed an opportunity to objectively assess the candidate.

5 – Not Involving Others

Hiring is a team sport. As such, you’re bound to make mistakes if you go at it alone. You will miss things others will see. Not engaging a candidate’s potential peers in the interview could be costly. Not only do you want to verify the candidate has the right skill set, but also will fit with the rest of the team.

6 – Falling Victim to Interview Fatigue

Interview fatigue can easily take its toll if you cram too many interview sessions into a short span of time. This can cause you to only vividly remember the first and last candidates you interview. In fact, when coaching job seekers, most are told to seek the first or last interviews of the day.

7 – Ignoring Red Flags

This is one of the most common hiring errors out there. You’ll hear and see little things during the process of interviews that will make you take pause. They will stick in your head and you’ll try to push them to the back. They concern you, but you rationalize it and figure it won’t be a problem. Then the day comes and you say, “Well…I knew that when I hired him.” These are the red flags you noticed in the process.

Always remember this. A candidate is on his BEST behavior during the hiring process. If you notice red flags then, multiply it by 10 and that’s what you’ll eventually get. Don’t rationalize red flags. They will inevitably become a problem.

8 – Avoiding an Analysis of Facts

Similar to ignoring red flags, this hiring foul will cause you a headache later. Remember, interviewees are (should) be on their best behavior in an interview. They should be prepared and ready for what you may ask them. They will seem like a rock star during that hour conversation. However, don’t forget the facts. Does their past performance align with your needs? After all, it is the best predictor of future behavior.

9 – “I Can Teach Them That”

Although this may be true, you must understand what you are signing yourself up for. Do you really have time to teach them the basic skills they need to qualify for the job? If your company does not have a great training and development program to support this, odds are it won’t happen. You can probably get away with teaching them the nice-to-have skills, but don’t think you’ll be able to teach them the core critical skills. Note, this is different than teaching them the job or teaching them how to use the resources and tools to do the job. You’ll have to teach anyone you hire how the job is performed at your company. You just want to avoid having to teach them the core skills needed to perform the job.

10 – “Maybe They Will Change”

In a rushed hiring situation, you will tend to overlook potential issues that you’ve identified in the hiring process. Due to time constraints, desperation, or whatever else the scenario may be, you may be tempted to assume they will change a behavior or environmental clash. If you’re concerned about it, and think they will change it, think again.

 

Staying disciplined to a sound recruitment process, avoiding too much subjectivity and focusing on a candidate’s verifiable qualifications will help you avoid these common mistakes and attain better ratios of hiring success.

 

For some advanced tools to help you avoid hiring mistakes during the recruitment process, check out ExactHire’s employee assessments.

6 Skills to Master in Your First Year Out of College

1. How to Write a Resume

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Resumes are like the windows into your job seeking souls, or a window into what you did before this job. Either way, they’re important. Whether or not you think you are a resume “expert,” every position requires a little tweaking of the resume. So, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you think your resume is, there are hundreds of ways to create or improve one that looks totally professional. Here are some previous blogs about how to do just that:

2. How to Budget

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I’m still working on this one myself, but learning how to budget your money is crucial in the year after you graduate. Through college, you were generally guaranteed a place to live and could beg your friends into giving you their leftovers, but now you might be out on your own. If you are (or if you’re trying to be) it could be time to actually log your spending/savings so that you’re not left out in the cold. If you don’t want to take my word on it, maybe read the Forbes take on it.

3. Taking Care of Yourself

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And that means getting in and out of bed at a reasonable hour. This is probably the easiest and hardest part of graduating college. Sure, you had to learn how to “cook” and maintain decently healthy living habits, but now it’s the time where you actually have to pretend to know how to be an adult. This means exercising, knowing where the produce section of the grocery store is, and hopefully having more than just alcohol and ketchup packets in your fridge at any given time.

4. Creating and Maintaining Professional Relationships

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It’s easy to fall into the routine of seeing the same people everyday, and if you’ve just graduated, it’s even easier to forget the difference in experience levels. Creating professional relationships are simple; just show and give respect where deserved, but maintaining the professionalism is a little more difficult. If you already have a job or want to study how you can become a functioning member of work culture, you can check out these blogs:

5. Interviewing Well

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Lucky for you, ExactHire has multiple blogs on how to do just that! Here are a few that you should definitely check out in order to find success at every turn, or interview.

6. Having an Opinion

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This may seem like an obvious skill to have mastered, especially after you ruled the classroom with your deep and probing thoughts; but what happens when your opinion on Jane Eyre’s choice to return to blind Mr. Rochester is no longer relevant? Answer: you form new opinions. Just as you had to do your research for that research project your senior year, you have to research your new job. The more you know and understand about the company, the easier it will be to give your own input. Though it may seem scary at first to have different thoughts than those around you, stick to what you know, show that you care, but always be open to new and other opinions.

Image credit: PUSH FOR HELP by Jonahthan Nightingale (contact)

Interviewing: Recent Grad Edition

Interviews are the worst. Maybe not worse than going to the dentist, but they’re up there. How many times have you just known you were perfect for a job then completely blew the interview?

Different companies have different interviewing criteria, but as the interviewee, one thing should be standard, always, and I really mean always be prepared. Whether it is over the phone, in person, or via web call (i.e. Skype or FaceTime), you’ve gotta fake it ‘til you make it. When preparing for any interview, there are typically four key steps – the resume, phone call/interview, the in-person interview, and the follow-up.

Let’s start with the resume – because first impressions, even on paper, are everything. When preparing, obviously practice all of the typical questions, all of which are covered by Huffington Post’s article Top 10 Interview Tips for New College Graduates, but be sure to add your own flair! Typically, the first thing a potential employer sees is your resume. Therefore, in order to make a lasting impression, you’ve got to make sure you have a solid resume.

The Resume

I love updating and improving resumes. I don’t care if it’s my own or one of my friends; the idea of being able to organize all of my professional experiences into one area is exciting (sounds lame, I know). Not everyone has this same thought process so here are some pointers when looking at your own resume:

  • Elaborate – employers want someone who can get the job done. Be sure to use action verbs (i.e. performed, utilized, completed, assisted, etc.)
  • Be Concise – though you want to show that you can do what is asked, it’s also important to remember that the potential employer is probably going to only skim your resume. Find simple ways to state accomplishments and use numbers to quantify your achievements where possible (numbers and data are typically easier to skim and are more impressive).
  • Be Honest – it may be tempting to “leave out” some of your work history, but if there is an awkward gap in employment or something doesn’t add up – you’ll probably get called out.

For more tips on making a successful resume, check out another one of our blogs, here.

The Phone Call

This is where I struggle the most. Many blogs about phone interviews say to dress as if you are interviewing in person, but I’ve always done the exact opposite. However you dress, just make sure you have your computer in front of you so that you can have the company’s site and your resume pulled up in front of you. By having these two pages on your computer, it will be easier to recall your research. During the actual phone call make sure to consider the following:

  • Answer your phone! It may not seem like a big deal if you step away from your phone for a few minutes, but if you miss that call, you might miss the opportunity.
  • Be professional. Please do not answer your phone with “what’s up?”. You’re speaking to a professional, so answer the call as if you are one too.
  • Make sure you’re in a location with good reception. Though it may not be your fault entirely, having terrible cell reception can cause a lot of miscommunication and annoyance for the interviewer. Same with doing an interview while driving.

The Interview

Some of the advice that I’ll be sharing has come from professors, parents, employers, and the all encompassing Internet. During the interview process, it isn’t uncommon to freeze up and completely lose your train of thought. My favorite method to handling this, especially as someone who is typically quiet, is that I like to pretend that I’ve known the interviewer(s) for years. This allows you to “pretend” that you’re in control and that what you say isn’t the end of the world. By becoming personable (because if you’ve hypothetically known these people for years, you’d probably be friends) you seem more relatable and approachable. Actions and behaviors that may not seem like a big deal could also be the same factor that separates you from a successful candidate, such as:

  • Chewing gum during the interview
  • Not having any questions for the interviewer – this makes it appear as if you did little to no research before coming in for the interview.
  • Dressing too casual – even if the office environment is casual, you should always dress professionally. For help, check out this tip sheet.

The Follow-Up

Congratulations! You made it past the first interview, but you’re not out of the woods yet. After any interview – in person or over the phone, there are a few key elements that are crucial to a successful, lasting impression.

  • Always leave or send a thank you card. I cannot stress this enough; whether you get the position or not, the employer took time out of their day to interview, consider, and give you feedback – that alone requires appreciation (and they’re human, give them some recognition that you value their time).
  • Ask questions that will help you in the future. This will allow you to improve your interviewing technique, even if you don’t get that particular job. Some examples of these types of questions are:
    o “Is there anything about my resume or interview that concerns you?”
    o “What do you typically look for in an ideal candidate?”
  • Don’t be too aggressive, it’s always good to follow the social media sites of the company you hope to work for, but if you’re constantly messaging or posting on their pages, they may get the wrong idea about your intentions.

Obviously these tips aren’t foolproof or guaranteed to get you a job, but as someone who just graduated, it would have been nice to have some tips when interviewing for jobs. ExactHire has a ton of blogs that can provide more insight as to what an interview should (and could) entail, as well as many more helpful topics by professionals. If you have any tips that you think the world needs to know, comment them below!

Image credit: Sticky Notes – Find a Job by Flazingo Photos (contact)

Speaking With Passion – Job Seekers Can Learn From The Seattle Seahawks

Well, the Super Bowl matchup is set. And although my hometown team took quite the proverbial…uh…kick in the face (is that a proverb?), I believe the two best teams from the 2014 season are headed to Phoenix. I’m still trying to purge the Colts-Patriots game from my memory and extract foot from mouth.

The Packers-Seahawks game was obviously the best matchup of the two. There were a lot of great plays during the game, but let’s review the post-game interviews to see what job seekers can glean from what I’d like to call the Seattle Interview Technique, or “SIT”.

Bringing Passion To The Interview – SIT

You remember last year, when a rising star named Richard Sherman approached a post-game interview with….well, with a little bit of energy?


Classic. No one will forget that. Some thought it was crazy, but it’s actually what SIT is all about: passion.

Sure he scared the daylights out of Erin Andrews, but he got everyone’s attention too. And if you can’t grab the interviewer’s attention, you won’t likely stand out as the best. But job seekers, a little bit of advice: Even if you are THE BEST, let’s stick to answering the interviewer’s questions.


So fast forward to this past Sunday. There was obviously a lot of energy and emotion after Seattle’s improbable comeback. There was a lot of SIT on display too!

This is the ideal SIT. There’s passion, but humility. Communication is clear. Word choice is good. Ms. Andrews probably walked away with tears in her eyes, convinced that Mr. Wilson was the best QB around–or at least the best fit for the Seahawks. 

Job Seekers: You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be the best fit for the job and the organization.


Later on, wide receiver Doug Baldwin channeled Richard Sherman and made the case that he and his team had overcome doubters. Apparently, this was an attempt to convince the interviewer that he possessed perseverance and unrelenting confidence in the face of adversity.

There was a lot of passion in this outburst (unfortunately the video has been lost to the internet), but there was a minor detail that undercut his point: The Seahawks were actually the #1 playoff seed and 6-point favorites in that game; very few doubters to be found.

But meh, whatever gets you going in the morning. SIT is not always easy to execute. It’s a balance between exuding passion and coming across as a professional. For me, this example of SIT rang hollow. Thankfully, Russell Wilson’s interview forced this contrived mess to the back page.

Job Seekers: Passion is great, but don’t force it. It could actually take away from, rather than enhance, your performance.


It’s important to note that SIT is not practiced by all Seahawks. In fact, one player has decided to go the opposite direction. Seattle’s starting running back, Marshawn Lynch, has popularized his own, highly controversial technique, MUM–which isn’t an acronym at all. When Mr. Lynch decides to respond to a question, it’s usually only a few words and often repeated throughout the interview.

Yeah, sometimes you are just THAT good. You can walk into an interview, throw down your portfolio, and let your work speak for itself…drop the mic. But even if you are that good, the interviewer still has a job to do. The interview–unnecessary as it may seem–is an important process for the employer–the employer who you chose to engage with by the way. Yeah.

Job Seekers: Please only attempt this technique if your performance is so excellent that it speaks for itself…or if you have an endorsement deal with Skittles. Yeah.

Passion + Performance = Success

The Seattle Seahawks have earned their position in the Super Bowl thanks to an impressive combination of experience, talent, and superb performance. However, it is their passion for what they do that gets attention and makes them standout in interviews. It’s not always the top performers or veterans that make it to the top, many times it’s the people who can combine those tangibles with a driving passion to be THE BEST.

 

ExactHire provides technology for hiring that helps organizations hire individuals with the right mix of talent, experience, and passion. Pre employment screening solutions include background checking, reference checking, and behavioral/cognitive assessments. For more information, please visit our Resources page or contact us today.

 

Image credit:
Loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium Seahawks-10
by Philip Robertson (contact)

How to Close Your Final Interview – 2 Key Tips

There are lots of resources on the web about how to put together a good resume, find job openings, get through online application software and get in the door as an applicant. No doubt these are important things for any potential job seeker.

However, there is another element of the process that doesn’t seem to get as much attention — how to close for the job. Before you jump to any conclusions, this isn’t about turning you into a salesperson. So, don’t let the “close” term intimidate you. Instead, it’s just a natural conclusion to the process to that point. I’m a big believer that these last two steps to closing for the job you want can and will differentiate you from other candidates.

So, below are two key tips to incorporating the close into your job search…

Summarize everything that’s happened & discover concerns

You’ve done all the hard work of getting a foot in the door, performing well in prior interviews, providing references, etc. Now that the final interview is finishing up, seize the opportunity when the interviewer asks if you have any final questions. Certainly, be prepared to ask about the things that may not have been answered to that point. Once those are resolved, now is the chance to find out more. First off, be prepared (briefly) to summarize your unique qualifications for the job and why you feel you’ll be a good fit for the organization. This should be no longer than 20-30 seconds.

Once you’ve finished this statement, ask the following (in your own words):

Are there any aspects of my background or my fit for this position that create any concern for you?

This may seem uncomfortable at first, but putting this on the table will help you discover very quickly if there is anything that might potentially hurt your chances with the person conducting this final interview. Knowing it now at least allows you to address it.

Ask for the job

This is the “close” referenced earlier, and it doesn’t have to be any type of gimmick or salesy pitch. As I said before, it should just be a natural next step from what has happened to this point. You’ve made the final interview, you’ve answered all questions, you’ve summarized why you feel you’ll be a good fit for the role, and you’ve asked if there are any final issues that might keep you from moving forward. Assuming the interviewer indicates there are no real concerns from his/her standpoint, now is the chance to take the mystery out of the process. At this point (again, in your own words), state the following:

Based on my qualifications and what we’ve covered to this point, I’m very interested in filling this position for the company. What are the next steps we need to take from here?

Anyone who has ever made the final interview stage, only to have the position go to someone else unexpectedly, knows how frustrating this can be. Following these steps will help you avoid this scenario. Regardless of how the sequence plays out, you’ll know where you stand as you walk out of the interview.

Again, don’t make the mistake of assuming interviewers will share their true feelings about your chances of landing their job. There’s nothing for them to gain by proactively offering their thoughts in this type of situation. Instead, stretch outside your comfort zone and make sure you get the information you want.

ExactHire offers software that helps small- to medium-sized companies to automate their hiring process and improve results. For more information about our software applications, please visit our resources page or contact us.

Image credit: self-made motivational poster and job interview attire by Dani Lurie (contact)

Sharpen Your Strengths So You Don’t Have to Worry About Weaknesses

It’s the classic question that many have been asked during the interview process…what are your strengths and weaknesses? Well, we know that everyone has them and it is part of who we are as employees and how we fit into the company…but do we look at them accurately, or in a way that we can make them work in our favor? As a recruiter, have you ever wondered why this is important to know? And, most importantly, do we really need to improve our areas of weakness?

How are we hard-wired?

Knowing yourself is as important in the hiring realm as in everyday life. There are many different assessments or “tests” that exist to help measure a person’s strengths and weakness. Some of us know these behaviors already while others are surprised by the results. When I was first hired here, I took a ProfileXT assessment that showed where I am on a scale for different cognitive and behavioral traits. I was not shocked to learn I have high scores in numeric reasoning, sociability and independence. I was surprised to see a lower score in assertiveness, since I always felt I was pretty straight forward.

Why is this important?

Seems obvious, but these scores show us and our employer a lot about how we think each day. These scores can be used by management to help understand why employees act a certain why, what motivates them and with which other employees they will most naturally interact in a positive, productive way. This whole idea is to create and cultivate the best job fit for the employee, thus creating an optimal work culture and environment. For example, my boss knows I am a social person so he is okay if I spend a little time chatting around “the water cooler” because he knows I need that to re-energize and then focus back on my work. Since we are a small company, we have the added bonus of sharing our assessment scores with each other and this helps us all out in knowing how to communicate and problem solve within our group.

What should we try to improve?

No one is Superman (or Superwoman), so there is no way to turn each weakness into a strength. Instead, focus on the areas that are already your strengths (could be behavior and/or cognitive traits), and use those to your advantage. For example, I am the official “bean-counter” at ExactHire so it make sense for me to sharpen my accounting knowledge and number skills, staying up to date on the financial world. I also know that it does not make a lot of sense to wear myself out trying to improve on my “technical” scores when I am not the IT person for our company. The same is true for someone who is customer service oriented, they do not need to be a numeric calculation genius because it is not in their job requirements…but it would make sense for them to be creative problem solvers in addressing client requests and inquiries.

Knowing your strengths can truly help in your job search or just in your daily life and how you interact at the office. A cohesive team can be created by knowing each other’s strengths and weakness because you can personalize your response for each situation at work…i.e. thinking about how you know others may react to your statements and using that knowledge to deliver news in the most optimal way as a result. For the person job hunting, you will be able to see how you will best fit into an organization ahead of time, based on what you know about the position and/or organization, and point out those strengths to the recruiter or hiring manager. To learn more about employee assessments available from ExactHire, please visit our assessment features page or contact us today.

Image credit: toothpicks by Miranda Granche (contact)

Job Interview Went Well – Or So You Thought – But Why Weren’t You Hired?

I wish the company would tell me why I’m not the right fit for the job! Despite my efforts to find out the details of my apparent mismatch, all I’m hearing on my end are crickets…Bueller?

As frustrating as being rejected from your dream employer can be, it can be even more maddening to not know the reasons for the company’s decision not to move you forward in the job interview process, or ultimately to hire you. After all, how can you improve your approach if you don’t receive any constructive criticism or feedback? Well, consider some of the reasons organizations fail to enlighten applicants about their reasons for non-selection. While some of them may be legitimate, others might just leave you wringing your hands. Nevertheless, perhaps having a better understanding of each can help you recognize areas for your own improvement and/or better equip you to seek out companies that make thoughtful applicant correspondence a high priority.

Will You Bite the Messenger’s Head Off?

This may seem surprising to you (depending on how even-keeled you are), but some company recruiting representatives may avoid getting back to you about your job prospect because they’d rather not expose themselves to the possibility that you will react in an unsavory manner. Speaking from personal experience, I can recall a specific instance where I told an individual that we wouldn’t be moving him forward in the process at the end of my phone interview with him. He didn’t hold back on his opinion, and promptly told me that I could, well…I better not say it here as it was quite colorful to say the least. This isn’t an excuse for companies shirking feedback inquiries; however, the frequency of this type of situation may depend on the “classiness” of the average applicant to the organization.

HR or the Hiring Manager is Non-Confrontational

Some people cringe and cower at the thought of telling someone “no.” Even if its only via email…maybe they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Others may avoid delivering a “no thank you” to the candidate due to the reasons for the decision, some of which may include:

  • By coincidence, the hiring manager learned some negative feedback about you from a mutual acquaintance (i.e. maybe someone at the company knows you or knows of you).
  • He/she doesn’t want to spend the time to respond because it is evident from your interview that you spent zero time preparing/researching for the interview. For example, did you know what the company sold? (Hope so!)
  • Your professionalism left something to be desired. Whether your manners were lackluster, your natural musk was putrid, or your gum smacking was highly irritating…the human resources person didn’t want to be the one to break it (though arguably this should be obvious) to you.
  • You answered a call or text during the interview. Please note that even if you ask the interviewer if its okay to take it, its not! You’re in a formal interview…turn it off. If you haven’t heard back about why you didn’t make the cut…sit tight…maybe they’ll text you…maybe.
  • Your late arrival to the interview…especially without providing advanced warning. If you don’t make time to respect their schedules, then maybe they’ve decided not to take time out to respond to you.
  • By comparison to other candidates, the answers you provided during the interview didn’t shed you in the best light. Other individuals are just more qualified than you.

The Dog Ate Your Contact Information

This one would be categorized under the inexcusable category in my book, especially in light of all the hiring software solutions today that allow organizations to easily keep track of applicant progress through the selection process. However, maybe you are waiting patiently by the phone because the HR manager really lost your contact info. The likelihood of this being the reason is slim; however, it may be more common at really small (and slightly disheveled) organizations.

Just Following Policy, Ma’am

In the interest of protecting themselves from potential employment-related lawsuits, it’s not uncommon to encounter businesses that refuse to give details about why an applicant was not extended an offer. This is arguably the most legitimate of reasons for refusing to provide feedback to interviewees. Especially in larger companies, managers want to minimize the potential for the many different people involved in the hiring process to accidentally disclose a piece of information that could somehow be used against the business by a disgruntled (and sometimes rightfully so) applicant.

Employment Brand is Not Top of Mind

While organizations are generally more easily concerned with the brand image of their products or services, sometimes employment brand (aka the feelings and expectations others experience when thinking about applying and/or working at your company) is left on the back burner. This is all too true for companies who fail to offer feedback for the following types of reasons:

  • The hiring manager in charge of correspondence is just bad at follow up and follow through…either from being disorganized or just apathetic.
  • Their recruiting professionals are busy and just don’t make time to offer suggestions to candidates for improvement.
  • The company has a super lengthy selection process. Read: It’s been so long that you think they have failed to respond, but really…maybe they will in another two months?

Don’t fret! Even if you can’t always get a post mortem from companies at which you interview, look for organizations that offer content on their website or jobs portal about how to prepare for the interview process, what to expect in terms of length of the recruiting cycle and their tendency to be (or not to be) transparent regarding the reasons for various hiring decisions. Then, at least you’ll have a better idea of what to expect going into the interview…and that helps everyone involved.

ExactHire works with companies to help them leverage software applications to improve the hiring and onboarding processes. For more information about our products, please visit our resources section or contact us today.

Image credit: Get Creative by JD Hancock (contact)