Help Wanted: Unemployed Lessons #3

It’s the third and final installment of Help Wanted, in which we try to direct some helpful lessons at hiring managers and interviewers on some basic, tactful behavior that can help make the hiring process way more beneficial for candidate and employer alike.

The final topic I want to tackle is follow-up. Whether it’s upon receiving a resume or application, after an initial telephone screening, or after the final round of in-person interviews, the candidate needs to know where she stands with your organization, and she needs to know within a reasonable time frame. Let’s take a closer look.

Receiving a Resume or Application: At this stage in the game, your candidate has (probably) already done at least one but probably more of the following for you: tailored her resume specifically to fit the position for which you’re hiring; written a personalized cover letter answering any questions you asked in your job posting and addressing your specifically requested qualities; located your online job application form, navigated it (including creating yet another username and password to remember), and re-entered all of her salient work history in individual boxes, even though she’s already submitted her resume with identical information included; and filled out, by hand, a 2-6 page employment application. This is some effort to obtain your position. No one cares if it’s a form letter at this point, because we all know most jobs in urban areas are getting somewhere around 300 applicants apiece, but do take the time to a: inform candidates immediately that you’ve received their application, and b: inform them within a week or two at the most if you will or won’t proceed with them as a candidate. If you will, schedule an interview as soon as possible; within the next week of contacting them is appropriate.

After a telephone screening: This candidate obviously caught your eye enough to make it to at least your top 25 contenders from those hundreds of applications you received. First, don’t telephone interview a candidate without scheduling it first. It’s not fair to call someone who’s busy chewing on a sandwich or scolding a yapping dog or juggling a bawling kid on her hip or trying to take a nap; candidates will schedule these important unemployment activities around your call if you schedule it first, however. That said: let’s say you get through the telephone interview. You need to let them know two things at the end of the call: when you will finish screening the rest of the telephone candidates, and when they will hear from you to hear whether or not they will be meeting with you in person. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to get through all of your telephone candidates in a week, and by the end of the second business day following that they should know either that you’re not continuing with them as a candidate, or that you’d like to schedule their in-person interview.

Following a final in-person interview: Send everyone a letter or email. Thank them for their time. Either offer them the position, or don’t, but don’t take more than a week and a half following the last time you saw them. Slice off a day from that each if you put them through any of the following hoops: urine screenings, typing tests, other skills examinations, interviews that lasted more than one hour, and traveling out of their state of residence for the interview.

As a final word of caution, try your hardest not to insult the candidates you choose not to hire. A simple positive note about pursuing a candidate whose skills, experience, or qualifications more closely align with the position is a lot better than saying, “We’re unsatisfied with your qualifications” or “We’ve chosen not to pursue you as a candidate any longer.” On the reverse side of that, don’t lay it on too thick. It’s disingenuous to praise a candidate you’re rejecting too highly.

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

10 replies on “Help Wanted: Unemployed Lessons #3”

I am pretty disenchanted with the whole hiring process at my currently place of employment. HR does an initial screening, and then schedules 2 hour interviews in which groups of people get to grill the candidate. (30 minutes per group) ONLY – I think that a half hour isn’t quite enough – at least for the ones that will be sharing an office, working hand in hand with the person should they be hired.

I work in IT, I think that there should be a competency exam FIRST. Basic computer skills… customer service skills…

I think that those in charge of the hiring are using out-dated ways of doing things. And for some stupid reason they have not been made to catch up with the times.

All of this. I’m in a hiring manager position right now, and I have a sheet that gets attached to each resume/app with a line for me to fill in the dates of things like: date received; first phone call; phone interview day/time; in-person interview; follow-up; offer/rejection date. There’s nothing worse than no follow-up.

From the employer’s standpoint, a few things that came up today alone (we have five open positions, about 100 total applicants so far, and zero viable applicants):

-The ad says “Apply in person only.” It does not say this because I’m a dick. It says this because this is a customer service industry, and I need to see if you can make eye contact, talk to strangers, maintain a pleasant demeanor, and dress appropriately. It also says this because “customer service” is a really easy job to apply for, and I only want to talk to people who are actually interested in this particular job. It also says this because hiring manager is not my only job, and I need to be doing my actual job, which is helping customers and managing everything else, and I cannot sort through 450 emailed resumes a day. It’s a small business. Please do not email me your resume. It shows that you didn’t read the ad all the way through. We have hours past business hours, so if you have another job, you can still stop by at an off time.
-Do not be an asshole to the first employee you encounter. It never fails to surprise me how many applicants are complete and total jerks to receptionists/store staff/front line employees. These people generally have the ability to influence if you get an interview. Be nice. And occasionally, that person is the actual person who would hire you, and that person happens to be working the front line.
-A follow-up call or note is fine. Six phone calls after a confirmed (but polite) rejection is not.
-Do not show up to an interview (or hell, even to fill out an application) in beach attire. Or ratty jeans. Or a “funny” T-shirt. Dress appropriately; at least to business casual standards or higher.
-Don’t go on and on about how overqualified you are. Trust me; I get the current employment climate. I get layoffs and underemployment and all of that. I always try to give the overqualified a fair shot, because I understand all of this. What I don’t have patience for is being told how much better you are than the job you’re applying for, and how you’re only applying because you’re desperate. That’s pretty much my job you’re insulting. Which comes back to “don’t be an asshole.”

I wish we could start a job-matching service for Persephoneers. Because, seriously, the current system isn’t working for anyone.

Ugh. I can only hope that there are employers reading this series and taking away a few tips.

I’m currently in the process of applying for a position at a place that is notorious (in my field and city) for being impossible on follow up. After a torturous process, which I won’t bother anyone with reading, I had my final interview on June 9th. Have they gotten back to me? Um, no. Supposedly they were making decisions by the end of June. I finally spoke with the hiring person earlier this week (I, of course, called her) and now they think they’ll make offers “this month, or by the end of the month.” Yeah, right.

It’s really frustrating because they hold out to the world that they’re this great place to work, they have great training, etc, but they have the WORST reputation when it comes to hiring practices.

Okay, end rant.

I hate the phone call, “Do you have a moment to talk now?” Well, I’m in the grocery store but I answered the call in case it was important, but sure I’ll duck in the “cook’s nook” aisle that nobody ever goes down so we can have a conversation that I’d have been glad to plan to be home to take if you’d just let me know.

I always call applicants and say, “I’d like to set up a time for a phone interview.” I’ve had a lot of applicants tell me they wanted to do it right then. I end up having to tell them I don’t have time set aside right this moment, and an appointment would give us both time to prepare.

I have gotten SO MANY blind calls without arranging them first, and as an applicant, it makes me a little peeved. Of COURSE I want to talk to you – but I have a puppy at home who barks like MAD while I’m on the phone, and I usually have to take some time to put myself in a quiet place, with all of my notes, before I feel comfortable performing my initial telephone screening.

HELL YEAH to that final interview bit. I waited a month from my final interview until they deemed it necessary to contact me (even though I’d sent two messages to them that were completely ignored) to let me know “However, we have finalized our decision as of yesterday and you have not been selected.”

I know it’s an employers market, but damn. How do they expect to get respect from their candidates if some modicum of it isn’t given back in return?

At this point I just want a stinkin’ job of any sort (that will pay the bills) just so I don’t have to deal with the hassle any longer.

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