Education Career Services

September 14, 2009

Job Interview…an employer’s experience (day one)

Recognizing what an employer goes through when searching for qualified candidates places the job seeker in a distinct advantage.  With this in mind, spend a few minutes to get inside the mind of an employer.

September 14The final days of reviewing job applications and responses to my job posting has come and gone.  I have been swamped with great applicants throughout a five day period…can you believe the responses.  As a result, keep active in your job seeking and do not hesitate or delay action.  There are too many qualified candidates waiting for their chance.

With this in mind and a handful of very qualified candidates, it’s on to the next phase of the process.  In so many ways, this is the least enjoyable (at least from my perspective) phase to endure.  Holding initial job interviews can be taxing not only by the amount of time required, but by the opportunity cost of not being able to perform my daily functions.  Thus, keep in mind the importance of being at an interview a good ten to five minutes early.  Need I mention the effect of being late?

Interviewing began last Friday and I met three very wonderful and unique individuals.  It’s truly hard to imagine the process without sitting across the table (that of the one actually interviewing).  This is your opportunity to allow the interviewer quality time to get to know you, your contributions, and your goals…don’t blow it by being late or unprepared.  As an employer, what do I look for in a candidate?  So glad you asked.

As mentioned a few lines ago, I am looking for individuals who are prepared and ready from minute-one.  If an applicant is new to the city or is worried about traffic and as a result being late; do your homework, make a trip to the office/location the day before, estimate and give yourself plenty of time to make it on time.  I have this strong belief that a person’s character and ethic is confirmed not by what is said, but by what is done.  No doubt about it, during interviews, actions definitely say more than words.  For the individual who is going to be late, you must call and let the interviewer know. 

Many applicants may not belief this, especially students new to the workforce, but the interviewer will be interviewing more than one person and he or she designates a certain amount of time to conduct the interview.  For the late arrivers, know the interviewer will now be crunched for time and this will upset the remainder of the day.  For example, I planned on interviewing a new candidate every 1 and ½ hour for the next three or four days.  If an applicant is late, that disallows me to adequately interview or prepare for the next scheduled interviewee. 

On a side note, understand that by the end of the day many of the applicants blend into faceless pieces of paper.  In other words, I often do not recall all the wonderful values an applicant will bring to the company.  As a result, I encourage each interviewer to send a hard copy follow-up letter immediately after the formal interview.  At this time, don’t simply state how meeting was wonderful and I am more eager than ever to become part of the company…blah, blah, blah.  Take this opportunity to express the true value and contributions you will bring (and base the follow-up letter on what was mentioned during the interview—by using those cues, you are letting the possible employer you listened to the needs and are offering solutions).  No doubt it does not warrant a side note but will do one anyway:

No grammar issues or misspelled words on your resume or follow up letter!

Enough for now, tomorrow we will go over more interviewing tips and what employers are seeking during the initial stage.  Before we go, I encourage each one of you to share an interviewing experience and perhaps our blog audience can benefit from your knowledge.

I will keep you up to date as this saga continues…

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
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1 Comment »

  1. As someone who has interviewed prospective employees, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to “Job Interview – An Employer’s Experience”.

    I agree with your recommendations that an interviewee be on time, be as prepared as possible, dress appropriately, and follow up with a note. These are basic courtesies.

    However, though I know prospective hires tend to blur after you’ve interviewed quite a few, I’m not entirely sure that encouraging a candidate to reiterate his or her strengths in a follow-up note is the best advice. I’d even go so far as to say it’s not his or her responsibility. In my experience, self-promotion in a follow-up note can come across as pushy and perhaps even transparent.

    I submit that it is the interviewer’s task not only to probe a prospective employee’s strengths during an interview but also to jot down notes afterwards, to help you remember what distinguishes one candidate from another, to help trigger your recollection of something unique about the person. That might be something as simple as a passing remark or an observation while you were chatting informally, or as focused as a “war story” told to illustrate a point. It could be something as unconscious (but important) as body language.

    That said, on to some things for the candidate to keep in mind.

    Remember that the person interviewing you is trying to gather information that will help him or her make a decision, to determine things that may not be apparent on your resume: Are you articulate? What is your professional style? Are you supportive and tactful or driven and confrontational? Are you naturally energetic and enthusiastic or ho-hum? These traits can be just as important as your past work history.

    It’s also important to remember that an interview is a two-way street, a reciprocal process. That is, besides enabling the interviewer to learn more about you, there are also some things you should know when you leave the building.

    You might ask for information about the company and its direction, beyond what your job would entail (if you’re hired). What does the company consider its core strength or business and who are the primary target audiences or clients or customers? You can hardly know whether or not you’d like to be a part of an organization – particularly a small one, not quite yet in the Fortune 100 – unless you know more about it than what appears in an ad or even what you read on a website.

    There’s nothing wrong with asking a question or two about what led your interviewer to join (or form) the company. This isn’t to pry into a life history; it’s to gain an appreciation for what makes the company special for him or her. These things could be tangibles or intangibles. Are they the same things you want for yourself in your new business environment?

    Don’t be embarrassed to say “I don’t know” if you’re asked something you can’t answer. Don’t try to bluff. Similarly, if you’re asked about a certain skill and you’ve never had experience with it but believe that, with some coaching, you could master it, say so. Don’t despair over what may at first blush look like the kiss of death.

    In short, be authentic and real.

    These thoughts may be self-evident. But in case they’re not, and particularly if you have most if not all of the necessary qualifications for the job but are new to the interview process, take a deep breath and relax. The person sitting across from you probably wants you to be just what he or she has been looking for, so the search won’t go on for weeks or months. Instead of worrying about how you’re doing, trust in yourself and what you have to offer. This, you’ll find, will take you a long way towards completing a mutually rewarding interview.

    Comment by Barbara Philbeck — September 15, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

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