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January 11, 2012

Jan 10, 2012 by     1 Comment    Posted under: Uncategorized

Because I hear from people both looking to fill job slots and people looking for jobs, today let’s hear from a job seeker and what he learned in his journey to full-time employment. A huge thanks goes out to MARC MORRISTON, Marketing Director at WNCT in Greenville, NC who shares his experience so we can all learn.

It’s a sweltering June day.  I’m perspiring, but it has nothing to do with the heat or humidity but rather the overwhelming surge of nerves filling my body.

I’m waiting for a phone call. Not just any call; it’s the call I’ve been waiting for for what feels like forever. It’s the phone call that will get my life back on track.

The call I’m waiting for is a job offer!

People get job offer calls all the time, so what’s the big deal you ask.  Well like many, I was out of work for a long time.  So long that my full time job seemed to be interviewing.  This latter job didn’t pay me but did take me back and forth across the country, with some weeks seeing me on a plane 4 out of 5 days during the week.

I love traveling so I didn’t mind that part.  It was what was waiting at the other end that caused me concern.

The interview.

Like most adults who’ve been in the “work force” for any length of time an interview is nothing new.  I’ve been on plenty and sat on the other side of the desk interviewing plenty.

I’m talking with a friend in my industry who says that I  should write an article, as it turns out the very one you’re currently reading about my experience and what I’ve learned about looking for a job but more importantly what I learned about what I will always do better when I hire in the future.

I say, sure.  However in the back of my mind I’m thinking why?  Why will anyone care what I have to say? Who will read it and will the people that I’m trying to reach with these observations shrug it off?  Will the article be a waste of the precious digital trees we all seek to preserve?

So after some time thinking about the whole idea I realize that I need to write the article for no other reason than to urge everyone who has the responsibility of hiring that there a few simple steps to take to make the process easier on everyone – including yourself.

I’ve been told by former employees that I’m a good boss – however after my experience of going on so many interviews, what I came to realize about myself was that while I might pick good candidates to hire  I was a very aloof hiring manager.  I couldn’t be bothered with things, if someone called or emailed, I didn’t want to talk with them since they were bothering me.

Now, I look back on this and myself and shake my head partially in disgust of myself.

Being unemployed is frustrating; with every new job posting there’s a renewed since of optimism that this is the one.  With every sent resume there’s hope.  With every phone interview there’s potential. With every face to face meeting there are possibilities.

There are also pitfalls.

I would study the company or, in my case, the TV station where I was interviewing, learn as much as possible to be prepared for any potential line of questioning that could come my way.  Upon arrival I would take a deep breath and tell myself “it’s go time”.  Unfortunately on many interviews my brain must have interpreted my inner voice saying “it’s go time” as, “it’s time to go” as in leave.  I say this because there were interviews that no matter how prepared I was or seemed to be, I just didn’t click.

There are too many interview experiences I had during my unemployment to recount all of them but I did meet some wonderful people mixed in with a few that weren’t.    I’ve given strong well thought out answers and showed poise and energy, yet  been left scratching my head when I didn’t get the job –  been surprised that I went through to the next round but didn’t make it to the finish line.

Interviews are a tricky proposition.  I always find so called experts’ advice columns on interviewing techniques fascinating since I feel that so many miss the mark on the reality of interviews.

I think most people have their minds made up fairly early on in the process.  I once had an interview that I knew the person wouldn’t be offered the job the moment I met them at the airport because every single instinct I had said no – all of my internal alarms were going off.  As it turns out, I wasn’t alone with that internal alarm.  Everyone who talked with that candidate also had the same reaction.  I’ve also decided on hiring someone the moment that I met them at the airport and to this day I’m still quite pleased with how that one turned out.

The thing about interviews is there subject to the whims of the interviewer, is this person in a good mood, is this a good day to be there, do they have a tooth ache, are they distracted by budgeting or some personal matter, are they in a great mood and happy to have you there?

You just never know.

I had one interview that was done with all of the department heads and the general manager. I sat at the end of the conference room table and the entire room took turns firing questions at me.  That one was a little more difficult than most because the questions varied greatly and came like an avalanche.  I thought upon completion that I did a decent job, however I lost out on the job to the other candidate (since there were only 2 of us).

Through this  job search experience, I learned to be a better person, more caring, understanding, certainly more humble.

As a hiring manager, what I learned has changed my entire perspective on the very job I do.  I still believe you need to look for the best, most talented person, the one that fits your vision for what you need. In addition, there are things I now believe every hiring manager should do throughout the process.  I certainly will and they all take very little time

Once you receive the candidates resume, simply acknowledge that you’ve received it.  Send them an email with a rough idea of what they can expect and when they can expect to hear from you if they fit the needs of the position. The email can be specific or more general. Either way, the candidate will be grateful to at least have some idea.  For ease of use on your end, just write one email and copy all the candidates you have.  This will also give people an idea that if they haven’t heard from you they probably haven’t made the first cut, which generally will reduce the number of calls you receive asking the status.

Just that one email can make such a difference to someone who’s been looking for a job, plus when you do end up eventually hiring one of those candidates they’ll be in a good frame of mind knowing that you’ve communicated with them all along and that you cared enough to do it.

After narrowing your stack of resumes and finding the candidates that best fit the needs of the position, send an email to set up a phone interview.  Even if the candidate lives close by do a phone interview first.  They’re quicker, they give you time to ask important questions and help you narrow your field.

When it gets to the call, try to be on time since that candidate is more than likely hovering nervously over the phone, waiting.  After the hello’s, start the interview by asking them about themselves and what they know of the job and place they’d be working.  I think by doing this you’re going to find the more enthusiastic candidates, those that are truly interested because they’ve done their research and are coming in prepared.  It can help you narrow the search because of someone has taken no time to do any research on the position or the company, do you really want that person working for you?  Then sit back, ask you questions and take notes.

At the end of the call tell the candidate the next step in the process and when they could expect to hear from you if they are moving on to the next round.  Again, deadlines are helpful since it gives the candidate important knowledge about the process and it even helps to keep you on a schedule.

These steps of informing your candidates of the process and timeline help to eliminate a lot of calls and emails about where things stand.  You’ve already told them when they’d hear from you in an approximate time, so if they haven’t they have a good idea that they aren’t moving on to the next round.

I would also take some time to draft an email thinking the candidate who didn’t make the cuts after the phone round just to let them know, even though they probably are aware since they haven’t heard back from you.

I used to hate answering my phone during this process since it never failed that I’d get daily calls from various candidates on the status.  I’ve changed the way I feel about this.  Now, I’d pick up and tell them where things stood since they’re interested enough to reach out about the job.  I would have my phone and email posted so any questions could come my way.  I realize this sounds like a lot but I think it’s simply a matter of courtesy.  Remember the last time you were looking for a job and how you wanted to know where things stood?  It’s really easy to forget that the longer you’ve been in a job.  These days with the economy the way it is, you never know when it could be you looking again, so why not store up some good job looking Karma. If someone is willing to call or email to me it shows that they’re hungry and fighting for the job. 

Now if someone is calling you or emailing you every day, that person might not be the right fit since part of the equation on the job hunting side is exhibiting common sense, being assertive but not overly aggressive.

When you make your final decision and make the offer,  let the people who didn’t get the job know.  This used to be much more common but seems to have dropped off which if you think about it is odd since it’s easier than ever to communicate with people.

In the future I would either call or email the candidates who didn’t get offered the job, it’s not an enjoyable call or email to make but just think how you’d feel if you were waiting knowing you were in the hunt but didn’t hear.

No one likes getting a rejection call but I know I’d prefer that call to none at all. The thing is none of this is labor intensive.

Today with so many people looking for work, do them the best favor you can (if you don’t hire them) and simply let them know their status.

That alone will ease their mind a bit and even if they didn’t get the job at least they’ll feel positive about the experience and know that you and your company were stand up individuals.

My phone is ringing…okay, deep breath, crossing my fingers, hoping it’s a good call.  Be back in a moment.

Yes! I got the job!

Maybe just as importantly I have a renewed sense of what’s important and how to do my job as a manager better going forward.  I won’t be the same as I used to – I  can’t because I’ve changed from this experience…for the better, I feel.

Okay, now I’m sweating because of the heat.

Time for ice cream to cool down and celebrate.

1 Comment + Add Comment

  • TLDR. Just kidding- great article Marc! Terrific!