I am unemployed for the second time in a year right now – this time by choice, due to some skeevy stuff that made me uncomfortable at my most recent job – and the experience of applying for, interviewing for, and turning down a number of job offers now has made me want to hold a class so people who are interviewing and hiring for jobs could learn a thing or two from my experience.
But today I want to focus on one in particular. Lesson Number 1: You are not the only job I have applied for.
This is an important lesson I think a lot of potential employers would benefit from learning. Here’s why.
First, if an employer understands that you are likely filling out a lot of job applications, sending out a lot of resumes, and – since you’re a stellar candidate, naturally – attending a lot of initial interviews, they shouldn’t be asking you to put out extra expenses to participate in this interview. Yes, I’ve seen some pretty irrational requests online for obvious job scams like paying to be considered by a placement service, but this type of request manifests even with legitimate positions in smaller ways. How many people ask you to email in your resume, only to request that you print the resume and bring it with you so they have a print copy on hand for your interview? To me, this is unprofessional: they are a company, probably with printing resources; if not, what’s wrong with keeping the resume electronic? The environmental waste – and eventual adding up on your own budget for printing costs – is inconsiderate and unnecessary. Other potential additional expenses include asking you to bring special supplies to an interview, asking you to wear something very specific to an interview (beyond the “business casual/professional attire” mandate), or asking you to travel to more than one location for interviewing.
Second, the employer should consider that you may be looking at a number of positions in your search – in fact, they should hope that you’re wise enough to cast your net wide – and thus shouldn’t make you play any guessing games as to which position they are contacting you about. I have even had employers contact me from organizations that are so large – like universities, or large corporations – that I have been qualified for, and have applied for, more than one position. I think it’s my responsibility to keep a basic record of the positions for which I’ve applied. But many companies do not even advertise the name of their business in their job ads, and have you email your resume to a blind email address (like on Craigslist). So when they call you up out of the blue without emailing you first to schedule a telephone interview, and say, “Hi, I’m calling about the admin position you applied for,” for instance, it leaves you scrambling to figure out who they are, how long ago you applied for their position, and which of your qualities specifically they were looking for in this position. It doesn’t help them get the best out of you, so they can’t develop a clear picture of how you operate when you’re at ease.
Finally, the employer should keep in mind that any job search is a full time job. The candidates have to spend a lot of time reading job ads, making phone calls, following up, writing great cover letters, tailoring their resumes for specific positions, and performing in interviews both over the telephone and in person. So, the employer should try to keep the number of interview rounds to a reasonable number (I’d say three is the very maximum), and to a reasonable length (they should never go over an hour. Ever). The employer who feels that this is an inadequate amount of time to assess the candidate probably needs to brush up on their interviewing skills; if you’re not learning enough about the candidate from brain teasers, abstract queries like, “What animal are you most like?” and reiterations of the candidate’s resume, maybe you should learn to focus your questions to pointed topics that will actually help you determine if the candidate possesses qualities and skills that will indicate a good fit.
Keep in mind that your candidate, out of diligence and intelligence, is applying for numerous positions. This is not an indication of disrespect or disinterest in your position, but rather out of the practical demands of a job hunt. Respecting their time and resources and giving them a fair chance to present themselves well is the best way to ensure that you will see your candidates at their best, and that you will be able to choose the best for your position.