Employer Interview Decision Time

Image by Chelsea Francis
Image by Chelsea Francis

Over the past week much has happened. Not only did I receive numerous emails asking which candidate was selected, I was asked how the decision was made.

Quick recap: Recently, Tropical Air of Central Florida, located in the Longwood area, searched for an administrative/office support staff. With the help of Goodwill Industries (Job Connection) and Christian HELP, applicants were interviewed, resulting in four final and well-qualified candidates.

Second interviews were held over a three-day period (last week):

  • All four applicants earned great marks for dress attire.
  • All four applicants arrived in a timely manner, approximately ten minutes early.
  • Nonverbal communication went well; eye contact, voice tone, attitude, and hand shake matched expectations.
  • Three of the four asked well-researched questions at the conclusion of the interview.
  • Two of the four sent follow-up notes within the appropriate time (two neglected the letter).
  • One of the four not only followed-up with a note, but also initiated a phone conversation, inquiring about the position while desensitizing latent employer concerns.
  • All four applicants felt comfortable with the environment and confident job functions would be handled with little hesitation.
  • Two of the four applicants offered beneficial unique contributions.

Decision time: Impressed by the four candidates, a choice had to be made

  • The decision was made based upon who we felt wanted the job more than the other candidates. For the two candidates not submitting a follow-up note or call, the impression was they were not as interested in the position as the other two.
  • The follow-up letters “showed” a desire to be part of our team. With this said, two candidates remained in a slot designed for one.
  • An additional phone call and strategy by one of the candidates in an effort to desensitize our concern leaned the decision her way.
  • Though education level was not officially considered, offering an advanced degree and unique value beyond the other three candidates helped sway the decision.

To summarize: There are many factors employers take into consideration during the interview and hiring process.

  • Appearance: Dress appropriately. Never wear sweats, jerseys, jeans, or fun casual.
  • Nonverbal: Show interest with good posture (no slumping in the chair), eye contact (do not stare as that can be creepy), firm hand shake, and always wear a smile.
  • Arrival: Ten minutes prior to scheduled time is considered proper. Do not arrive more than ten minutes early as this is disrespectful. If you are going to be late, call and explain (most employers know things happen and will understand).
  • KSA: Prove you possess the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done.
  • Professionalism: Courtesy goes a long way.
  • Company research: Have several questions ready, proving homework and diligence is on your side.
  • Follow-up: This is often the tie-breaker. A simple hand written note and quick call often differentiates close calls.

If you are invited to interview but not offered the position, always follow-up with a thank you note. Truth is, not all initial hires are the right choice. Changes can (and do) happen, making the next in line the newest employee.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit http://www.edu-cs.com, http://www.CareerBreakOut.com, or http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

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Interview Expectations: Following Up

Last time we reviewed interview expectations from the employer’s perspective. This time we are going to go one step further and (re)discover simple techniques you should (not can) use to gain the second interview.

Picture by Paula Borowska
Picture by Paula Borowska

As previously mentioned, I am in the market to secure an office administrator for Tropical Air of Central Florida. In this effort, I reached out to two local organizations, Goodwill Industries/Job Connection and Christian HELP. Both provided top-notched candidates.

A week has progressed and now it’s time to schedule interviews with those who may fit into the position and our culture well.

Deciding factors employers consider for second interviews:

  • Professionalism is ALWAYS number one. Don’t let others tell you otherwise. How professionalism is defined and weighed differs from organization to organization but there are commonalities. Fair or not, appearance is always a concern. To eliminate appearance concerns, dress professional business. This means no shorts, no jerseys, and no funky hats. Unfortunately, three candidates were not professional in their attire. These three could have done the job but have yet to be asked back simply because of their lack of professional attire.
  • On a similar professionalism note, a proper handshake, firm, not limp or sticky, begins and closes each interview. Believe it not, some jobs were lost due to a creepy handshake.
  • Professionalism equals research. ALWAYS know what the company and position is about. Two candidates were lost when asked about what our company does, neither earned a second interview.

Of the 20 resumes and applicants for this one position, the initial interview had the task of finding a manageable number for the second interview stage. With this in mind, the following also influenced the invitation to meet the boss:

  • Follow up note. Of all the candidates, two individuals went that extra step to follow up with a personalized/professional note. One of the individuals took advantage of snail-mail by sending a two sentence post card. The handwritten note was a nice touch, allowing me the opportunity to re-examine the original application. I also received an email follow up, though not my favorite means of messaging, I appreciated the effort. On this note, both of these individuals sending the follow up have been invited to meet the boss. Of the remaining candidates, only one has been invited back.
  • Follow up latent meaning. Ever wonder why follow up notes play a role in the hiring decision? After all, anyone can jot a couple sentences together after the initial interview. No doubt this is true, ANYONE can jot a couple sentences together… my question is, why don’t they? Often times, hiring managers look for those going that extra step and question why so many don’t take an effort to impress.
  • Personality. Hiring managers look for personality and how your personality will fit into the environment. Many factors are considered, such as tone of voice, attitude, sense of humor, will you get along with differing demographics within the area, and the belief you want to be part of the organization for longer than three months.
  • Gut feeling. At the point where push comes to shove, gut feeling will rule the decision. Problem is, of the 20 candidates, I remain confident well over half have the capacity to get the job done well. How does one filter the final ten into a top three? Though not measureable, it comes down to subjective impression… things that cannot be measured by conventional methods. Here’s where soft skills, nonverbal cues, research, follow up, and personality raises the top.
  • Final three. Knowing ten would be ideal candidates for the position, the final three were selected due to candidate persistence (follow up letters and phone inquiries). Their persistence led me to believe they conducted due diligence and WANT to work in our small office family atmosphere.

Over the next few days three individuals (who were ultimately selected over seven equally qualified candidates) will be meeting the boss. On paper, these three offer little more than the others, which makes me feel badly because the remaining seven would have been offered a second interview IF they had only followed up with a note.

Though many employers are not sticky when it comes to follow up letters, many are and will not consider qualified candidates unless initiative is shown. Truth is, it’s easy to say “I want that second interview and I’ll do whatever it takes…” while a postage stamp, quick note, and an envelope shows you really do want that second interview.

As for the remaining three in consideration, I’ll let you know what happens later in the week.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit www.edu-cs.com, www.CareerBreakOut.com, or www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com

Interview Expectations: What Hiring Managers Expect

Congratulations. After two months searching for an ideal career match, you receive a call and interview invitation… now what?

Blog Jan 2015 dont just stand thereLast week I had the pleasure to conduct interviews for an office administrator at Tropical Air of Central Florida. I reached out to Goodwill Industries and the Sanford Job Connection… a great move on my part. To be clear, the experience was fantastic as the group at Goodwill Industries were helpful, the offices excellent, and the candidates impressive.

After interviewing nine individuals, I recommended four to be extended a second interview. Calls will be going out later this week.

The following summarizes the experience (valuable information for anyone currently or planning on interviewing):

Gaining that second interview:

  • Looking the part: Though most were dressed appropriately, in a competitive market, what one wears does impact perception. The final four were dressed professionally, delivered well-written copies of their resumes, and presented themselves respectfully. Unfortunately, several candidates were not prepared with proper dress or resume.
  • Focus and matchmaking: The four finalists knew what the job entailed and delivered details as to how their experience and career goals met what I was seeking. Encouraged by researching our company and industry, most of the interviews were fluid and conversational. Unfortunately, several knew nothing of the company and little of the position. Though some most likely could perform the job well, limited focus and research rarely impresses any hiring manager and can lead to a disconnect.
  • Communication: The finalist spoke with confidence, aptitude, and honesty. To be clear, these are characteristics all companies seek in potential employees.
  • Non-verbal elements: Interviews begin with a smile, then a handshake. If either element misses, candidates find themselves behind the eight-ball. On the “not-so” impressive side, I did have two candidates interview while chewing gum. I am one who perceives gum chewing during interviews low on the respect totem pole.

Overall, I am impressed with Goodwill Industries and the Sanford Job Connection Center, recommending their services and candidates without hesitation. To be specific, Alba Vazquez offered a great deal of help and support by coordinating and aligning qualified candidates in a hurry.

  • Now what? I am confident the four finalists will be notified within the next two days regarding a second interview; problem is, not one (or any applicants) has taken the first interview to the next level… not one has sent a follow-up/thank you note. I find this disturbing and surprising. If one was keeping score, and I do, thank you notes have the potential to add points to any close decision and have meant the difference between a second invitation and no consideration.
  • Thank you letter: Without going the final step in the interview process, the tape is rarely crossed. What does a thank you letter mean? Interest in the position and with the company.

Regarding the final four interviewed last week (where all four were extremely close), who will take the lead by taking professional respect to the level it needs to be? Who will follow-up? Not to worry, I will clue you into what happens next.

If you have any questions or situations you would like to share, please send it in to me directly or go through the comment box.To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit www.edu-cs.com, www.CareerBreakOut.com, or www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
Tropical Air of Central Florida, http://www.Tropical-Air.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com

Job Expectations: What Employers Expect

Once a job offer has been accepted, you agree to the terms, conditions, salary, and expectations placed upon you.

woman and fire blog Jan 2015With acceptance comes expectations… over the next few weeks, we will be clarifying what exactly is expected from you. For today, the employer’s point of view will be simplified; truth is, you were hired not just to do the job, but to champion the company while being professional on and off site.

Doing the job: You were hired to get the job done. You may be the greatest chap in the world and perhaps even smooth-talked your way through the front door, but if you cannot deliver, the back door will soon feel your shadow. Take notes during training, stay late (on your time), research, do, whatever it takes to prove your employer made the right choice.

Scheduled hours: For many (if not most), being at your desk and ready to perform five minutes BEFORE your scheduled time is considered a sin. Latest scoop, employers expect you to be producing from jump. Producing does not mean making or waiting for coffee, running to the bathroom, gossiping, sitting in the parking lot, Facebooking, or any other non-work related function.

Last year I had to council an employee who constantly walked in the front door eight minutes after her scheduled time. In an attempt to justify daily tardiness, she explained how each morning she was in the parking lot, listening to a radio host while thinking about her work day. Unfortunately, until our chat, she felt the parking lot was an extension of the office.

Employers expect you to be functioning on the dot, this includes prior to departure. In other words, do not stretch down the final 15 minutes of your shift. If you must clean up, prep for the night out, look for recipes, or re-discover Facebook’s irrelevance, do it on your time… after your shift concludes.

Champion the company: Employers expect each employee to represent on and off the clock. Given the digital world, instant electronic gossiping, and social networking, what you do, what you say, and what you write will be reviewed not just by friends (and perfect strangers). Fair or not, it’s just the way it is.

We’ve just begun to examine job expectations from the employer’s perspective… oh, there’s so much more to consider. Not too worry, this month is dedicated to getting you in the know while making sure you do not make simple mistakes leading to confusion or termination. In case you’re wondering, the parking lot lady was terminated the following week; for some reason, she just couldn’t grasp this employer’s expectation.

If you have any questions or situations you would like to share, please send it in to me directly or go through the comment box.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit www.edu-cs.com, www.CareerBreakOut.com, or www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com