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an afternoon of interviews, part two July 3, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Getting Hired, Management.
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(Read part one here.)

So, who did I pick?

This is actually what it looked like at my old office when just two of us (ie: me and Alan) were working. (photo by austinevan)

This is actually what it looked like at my old office when just two of us (ie: me and Alan) were working. (photo by austinevan)

Yes. It was Alan. And he turned out to be dependable and capable and a fun guy to work with. He eventually quit when he got a better offer in California, but while he was there he was willing to learn anything I had to teach him and he could easily hold a conversation with me while simultaneously doing his work. Given how boring the work could be at times, that certainly helped.

Who would you have picked? Who would have stood out to you the most? Who would you have wanted on your team? I chose the person I wanted on the team, as I so often did — in the past, I’d gone with my gut and generally had good luck, so why not pick Alan? I went with my gut when I picked Mickie, who turned out to be married to a professional wrestler — and I had been into wrestling since I was four, so not only was she really cool, but we always had something to talk about. I did it when I picked Dawn, who was promoted to work in our New York office, and then transferred to our Philadelphia office, where she still works. I picked Gil, who has turned out to be the most dependable person I ever hired and is still at that office.

Sometimes, though, my gut backfired. It backfired with Wanda, who didn’t get along with my replacement and nearly got herself fired as a result, even though she and I worked fine together. It backfired with Mel and Louis, both of whom regularly showed up late — and Mel fell off the face of the earth about a month after I hired him, never to be seen again.

Was Alan a backfire? I don’t think so; I just think he found a better opportunity. And it worked out for some of my other interviewees. See, after I make a choice, I call everyone I personally interviewed and give them the news that it wasn’t them, and I tell them, “I’ll keep your information on file, though, and if a position opens up, I’ll definitely give you a call.” After all, I’ve already interviewed these people, right? Why should I do another round of resumes and interviews when I already know I’ve got prospects I feel are solid?

I don’t think anyone expected me to call. Jan certainly didn’t; I left her two messages, but heard nothing back. It’s too bad, too; a lot of things happened over the course of one month, including the ability for me to promote someone to 30-hours-a-week (not quite full time, but enough for limited benefits) and hire two new part-time employees. Jan was at the top of my list when it came to people I hadn’t hired.

So I moved on. I called Katrina and Tanya, both of whom were so surprised to hear my voice that they nearly forgot to accept when I offered them both part-time jobs. They were even more surprised when I told them that I was leaving at the end of the month — I’d gotten the job at CorporateSpeak, and had to train both my replacement and the new employees as well as get another round of interviews done. A busy two weeks, to be sure.

Katrina and Tanya both showed up on time and were very eager to learn. Inside a week, they were both knowledgeable enough to work shifts with me so I could train them on the finer points of our CMS and the rest of the job. I also trained Gil to replace me, at least until my official successor was named. Wanda was already trained on the 30-hour-a-week job, and was likely to get it in writing upon my departure (she did, and has since become a full-time employee, 40 hours a week). And my interviews went well enough that, before shaking hands with my regional manager for the last time, I recommended he hire young woman named Sarah who, honestly, I liked very much and was just starting out in the industry. I wanted to give her a break, because I knew how hard it could be. I don’t know if Sarah ever got hired because my first few months at CorporateSpeak were so busy that I hardly had time to check in with my old employees.

Still, score two more for my gut instinct — even though Katrina left due to boredom and Tanya got that promotion at her other job, while they were working for my successor they got the job done and were good at it.

Oh, and if you think managers just forget about you after they leave, don’t: when my now-ex-boss at CorporateSpeak was looking to hire another member of our team, both Katrina and Tanya applied and he actually interviewed Katrina. She didn’t get the job, but she got her shot because I remembered that she was good at her job when she worked for me and had the skillset we needed at CorporateSpeak.

So… what can you, as a job-seeker, take away from my afternoon of interviews? Simple:

  1. Follow directions when you apply. If you can’t do that when you’re just sending a resume, why should managers think you can follow directions at work?
  2. Establish rapport. Managers want to hire people they’ll be comfortable with. One of the things I did in my interview at CorporateSpeak was take control — I got my (then-future) boss talking about the things that made me look good, and I was able to suss out what he was like based on what I saw in his office. I firmly believe that, plus my cover letter — which he told me later was the most interesting he’d ever read — got me the job I have now.
  3. Call back. Even if you don’t get the job, it doesn’t hurt to check in every now and then. No more often than once every month — six weeks would be better. If your interview went well but you didn’t get hired, it’s likely the manager liked you enough to possibly hire you in the future.
  4. If you change your contact information, notify the manager. It shows you’re still interested, and if he or she is still interested in you, it certainly helps if you can be easily contacted.
  5. It’s the intangibles that get you hired. You’re in there in the first place because you’re qualified enough to warrant a closer look. On that afternoon, everyone (except Jorge) was qualified, but:
    • I hired Alan because we got along, not because his career path was necessarily in line with the job I wanted to fill.
    • I hired Katrina because she made a good impression and was eager to learn.
    • I hired Tanya because she was looking for exactly what I had available — a few hours a week of part-time work, nothing more and nothing less.

If you’re looking for work, good luck to you. I hope this helped, at least a little, in giving you insight into how managers think.

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