By Shea Ki
If you have ever worked at a restaurant, you might know too much about what goes on in the kitchen to ever actually eat there yourself.
Almost the same thing often happens when you put a lot of time in management and hiring for an organization. You realize so much is messed up with the hiring process that it is amazing that anyone actually gets a job.
I saw a lot of behind the scenes of the interviewing process during many years managing job fairs and employment centers. While I helped employers find their next best employee, I learned what hiring managers do not want job interview candidates to know.
Here are five situations that hiring managers may try to conceal during the interview process.
1. Hiring managers are often not prepared for the interview. When looking for valuable job interviewing advice, the number one step to success in the hot seat is to be prepared. This advice is golden, but sometimes the hiring manager you are interviewing with is the one not ready! They might hide it well, but all too often they are so busy, understaffed, disorganized (or all three!) that they have not reviewed your resume themselves or even had breakfast. And as soon as your leave, they may think you are top notch but accidentally loose your contact information.
This does not mean you should be any less prepared. Be sure to get their contact information and email address. Include in your follow-up email key highlights of the interview that stood out to you. This will help jog their memory of your fit for the position.
What to do:
Go beyond "thank you for your time". Take a few minutes to reflect on the conversation. Being more specific (such as "I enjoyed how the questions you asked challenged me" or "I was excited to hear about the plans for growth") will more likely remind them of your strengths.
2. Several excellent employees may have left recently. Unless it was a widespread issue, this type of information is often not seen in the press. It sometimes is kept really close to the vest of the senior management who you might not even be interviewing with.
Some people jumping ship is normal after a "re-org" of a department or if a competing business swayed a few colleagues with higher compensation or other bonuses.
However, research notes that people don't usually leave their job, they leave their manager.
Find out how long the manager of the position you are applying for has been in their current role. Ask questions that also help you find out what types of challenges the team has worked to overcome lately and how the daily work is managed.
Look for junk under the trunk of any shiny job description.
What to do:
Pay close attention to their answers. Are they giving specific details that give you more of a clear picture or vague, general statements which raise doubts of the work environment?
3) They can't take you seriously because of your online pictures.
While some hiring managers might be too overloaded to do their homework on you, others are digging around to make sure you are a good fit. You might be dressed for success at the job interview, but when they google your name or look up your social media handles will a picture of you show a much different and less responsible story?
What to do:
Make sure your online reputation is guarded and put any unprofessional pictures on lock down, especially when you are job searching. Many employers and recruiters are looking at your online activity and might be getting their first impression of you from there.
4) The interview might just be so they can check a box. You could be giving the best interview of your life, but it may all be for a position that was taken before you even sat in the hot seat. I've been on and also observed hiring panels that felt like a front to me. The organization had to go through the motions of looking like it was giving equal opportunity, sometimes even being required to host a certain number of interviews to appear "fair". However, the hiring team had already agreed or been told that the position would be given to an internal candidate. Fair? Not at all. Does it happen? Absolutely.
If they do not select you, it might feel good at first to shut down all contact with the company, but try to resist taking it personally. It often helps to stay in touch with your contacts at the company.
What to do:
I've seen several people asked back in for an interview and hired later for other positions because they maintained a relationship with the company. Sending positive messages that you are interested in future opportunities and being creative in continuing to show your value can make a difference.
Keep engaged on LinkedIn by "liking" the posts of companies you have interviewed for and writing useful comments. Sending a helpful article about trends in the field is another way to keep to build up that connection.
5) The Human Resources process annoys them, too. Policies, red tape, paperwork requirements, and internal drama with the Human Resources staff can suck out all the fun out of the hiring process. At many businesses, prospective candidates and managers that need good help are up against a broken, traditional system. The entire interview process needs a serious upgrade at many companies, but often resources are not used to make that happen.
It will not help your career to go off on anyone from HR, but do not be a door mat. Ask for and follow their guidance as best you can and remain patient. Hearing back from employers after the job interview can take anywhere from two weeks up to two months.
What to do:
Following up more than once a week is usually not going to make things go any faster and will make you look desperate, not eager. If it seems you are having to jump through too many hoops or wait a long time without a satisfying explanation, take your energy and talent to another opportunity.
Many employers are trying to make the interviewing and hiring selection process more 2016 and less 1970, but there is a long way to go. The job interviewing process should be set up to provide an engaging chance to connect and discuss what works for BOTH sides.
When either side tries to hide the negatives during a job interview, it often backfires.
Do not be blind sighted while admiring bright and tempting job opportunities. Before you stay somewhere for a vacation, do you check it out to make sure it's a really great place? Before you buy a new laptop or phone, you know its best to explore your options and price differences. Use the same savvy shopping sense when determining where you want to work.
Most of all, believe in you.
Shea Ki is on a mission to help end the interview struggle. Sign up for her free newsletter to get her latest tips on shining in the hot seat and attracting work that lights you up.
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