Interview Like A Boss–The Prescreening Interview

September 26th, 2017

Series: How to Interview Like a boss

The Prescreening Interview

A prescreening interview, performed via phone or video, is a great tool to help you streamline your hiring process. In a 10-20 minute conversation, you can quickly determine if an in-person interview makes sense as a next step.
The prescreen interview will typically include basic questions to determine if there is a match. These questions can be lumped into three major categories.

General Resume Background and History:

  • Verify the resume history. Get or verify dates of employment for each role/company. Ask for reasons for the recent job changes.
  • Tell me about your major responsibilities and duties in your current position (or the role that is most relevant).
  • Why are you looking for something new at this time?
  • What are your salary expectations?

This Role and Questions to Determine a Potential Match:

  • Provide an overview of the role including the day-to-day duties and what they should accomplish if they are successful in the role.
  • If the role requires travel, non-routine hours, or relocation, share this information and ask how they feel about these requirements.
  • If there are specific skills needed for this role, ask about their relevant experience.
  • Why would this job be a good next step for you in your career?

General Personality and Cultural Fit Questions:

  • What are you looking for in a new role?
  • What are you looking for in a company?
  • Ask questions about their career goals.

The amount of time you spend on these questions will likely be determined by how well you think the potential candidate may be a match. If you know early on, this is a good match, feel free to move forward with scheduling an in-person interview and make note to revisit the unasked questions during the in-person session. If you are on the fence, continue probing by asking more of these questions or follow-up questions. As soon as you feel the candidate may not be a good match, politely share this information and end the call.

In this prescreening process, there are red flags to look for. The big ones are inappropriate energy level for the team/company/manager, focusing on money and benefits too much, the inability to articulate what they want next in their career, and the inability to give a compelling reason for considering a job change at this time.

You should always listen to your instincts; if the prescreen just isn’t feeling right, don’t move forward. This step can save you the time and trouble involved in meeting a person who, despite a strong resume, does not meet all your needs.

Written by Tiffany Appleton, Director of Accounting & Finance Division

LinkedIn Messaging the Right Way

September 19th, 2017

You’re searching on LinkedIn to find and connect with a recruiter who works for an employer at the top of your priority list. Success! You’re connected, and now it’s time to say hi with a message. But first, there are specific elements you should include in this message. With only one chance to make a first impression, let’s make certain it’s a positive one.

Get started on the right foot
Put simply, say hello in some form and use the individual’s name. Next, explain why you’re making contact, just as you would at the beginning of a cover letter. Maybe you’re really interested in this company in general, or perhaps there is a specific role or type of role that you’ve seen them advertise and you feel like you may be a great match. Whatever the case may be, this need not be a lengthy statement—one or two sentences will usually suffice.

You’ll notice there is no option here to simply type “Hi” and wait for a response as in a text message. While that approach is well intentioned, it provides neither context nor substance and is something most recruiters will not respond to. In order to create the desired reaction, this interaction must be treated as if you are typing a professional email or a condensed cover letter.

A crucial piece of the puzzle
With the intro done, now it’s time for the even more important part—a sales pitch, of sorts. Sell yourself within a couple or a few sentences.

Here, I like to emphasize the concept of exchange. In writing this message, you are likely asking for help of some kind. When asking for something of value, it’s crucial that you offer something of value in return. Ideally, this something is a skill or set of qualifications relevant to the needs of this individual. Recruiters in the corporate world get tons of these messages every day, so it’s important to let them know why they should keep you at the forefront. Otherwise, you may find yourself not receiving responses from LinkedIn outreach.

The closing
And finally, take no more than two sentences to close out the message, and part of that closing should be used to ask if you can send a resume. Since you aren’t yet acquainted with this recruiter, it’s not the right time to ask for career advice, help with the search, or for any other useful resources you feel this individual may have. Requests of that kind may be reasonable at a later date, but asking those questions early on won’t really help you. Again, it’s important to give them something of value before you ask for favors in return.

Written by:
Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist

Salvage Relationships while Declining a Job

September 12th, 2017

During the interview process, you have a chance to learn a great deal about the position and the employer. So what happens if all this information leads you to conclude that you don’t want the job? I’ve certainly been there before, and the most important thing is to handle things in a way where you don’t burn any bridges. The good news? It’s quite simple and makes you look supremely professional.

The mid-interview technique
If you’re still in the interview when this realization hits, you have a couple options. I have had several occasions where I chose to end the interview. I felt that to continue would be a waste of everyone’s time. So instead, I very diplomatically ended the conversation, saying something like “[interviewer name], I really don’t want to waste your time here. Based on the information you’ve given me, I know this just isn’t going to be the right match, and here’s why…”

This approach has yielded nothing but incredibly favorable responses. For me, the key elements are honesty and diplomacy. It’s essential to give the interviewer a real, honest reason. If the real reason is awkward, however, keep reading into the next section.

If this method is just too direct, then certainly finish the interview like normal. If they invite you back, you’ll have to respond promptly to their request and let them know where things stand. But if they don’t call you, then you’re off the hook. However, if you’re feeling like the position isn’t a match because of a personality issue or a concern about cultural fit, it may be best to get the jump on the situation to ensure a tactful handling of things. That brings us to the next method…

For situations where the truth would hurt
Let’s go with the example where you’re not jiving with this prospective supervisor. That would certainly be an awkward conversation to have! Here, I would suggest a proactive thank you note right after the interview. After you thank the interviewer for their time, you can then add something to the effect of “While there are many great things about the opportunity we discussed today, I have decided to pursue a different direction at this time.” First, the beauty of that statement is the fact that it’s wrapped up within a thank you note. No interviewer can ever be upset that you’re saying thank you. And the other benefit is that the statement is not terribly specific, yet it also doesn’t tend to generate follow-up questions.

The job offer that you just can’t accept
Here, we’re not talking about taking a cut-throat approach to negotiation by faking a rejection. This is for when you truly wish to decline the position. While it often feels easier to leave a voicemail, send an email, or worse, just never respond, these approaches tend to burn bridges.

Saying no to an offer requires a specific reason as opposed to a general statement about taking a different direction. When someone is making an offer, they’re in a bit of a vulnerable spot. They’ve met with you and several other individuals, but they have decided to invest in you. This investment involves money, time, energy, and many other resources. Plus, you won them over! It’s a business decision yet still somehow a bit personal for those involved. When you say no, it’s a form of rejection, which most of us don’t particularly enjoy.

However, it’s quite well received when delivered properly and in a way that provides closure. The best route is to have a real conversation that involves some thank yous and an explanation as to why this is just not the right direction for you to take at this time. It does not have to be a lengthy explanation. The person on the other end of that conversation will leave the situation not feeling rejected, and you will manage to deliver bad news without tarnishing your name or reputation.

Written by:
Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist