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Thursday, September 27, 2012

When a casual talk could turn out to be the actual interview

It is clear. Job seekers have been attending many classes to help them be as sharp and presentable as possible at job interviews. With these sessions, we now do not need to be reminded to dress up in cool conservative colors for interviews nor must we be reminded to be at the interview venue way before the scheduled time. We find time before the interviews to rehearse and get feedback from friends on our performance on various interview components ranging from our eye contact to voice projection.

How would you however react the moment you realize you have just been interviewed without your knowledge? Akinyi has a story to tell. When she received a call from a company she had once sent her resume and application to a while ago, she was expecting a request for a conventional interview. The administrator however was out to check whether she would be available for a chat with the boss that same day in the afternoon at a restaurant in town. Due to the push within her for a job, she answered in the affirmative and with that call, the chat was scheduled for 4.30pm at a coffee shop in the heart of the city.

Good enough, Akinyi had travelled to the city that morning to meet a few people as they were planning for a friend’s wedding. By the time of the meeting in the afternoon, she had sweated herself out and was heavily laden with lots of paper bags from her city purchases.

The representative of the potential employer who turned out for the chat was actually the CEO, a sharp and neat lady in a designer trouser suit. As the two sat down and chatted the afternoon away over tea and coffee, the CEO asked several questions that required Akinyi to have refreshed her memory about. Some of the questions bordered on her past leadership experiences, her management of interpersonal conflicts and her perception of the industry within which the company operates.

From Akinyi’s responses, it was clear that she was out of sync. The following day, Akinyi received a mail from the company as a regret that she had not presented herself as a promise to the company for innovation and creativity. She had failed the interview.

But which interview? It was not scheduled as an interview. It was just a coffee chat between her and the company CEO. The truth is, for all intents and purposes, an interview is an interview, regardless of the form it takes. An interview is simply an opportunity for the potential employer to gather crucial information about the person who could be considered for employment. It could happen through observation, telephone conversation or through an invite to a cocktail.

As a job seeker, it is important to note that any of the opportunities could just be used to gauge you as a potential candidate for a job. It is important to be on the lookout and note that people could actually be watching you either directly or through proxies. An invitation for a chat could actually, just like in Akinyi’s case, be the opportunity to prove your worth as the potential candidate.

Whenever you are invited for a chat by a potential employer, take the opportunity as seriously as you would take a formal invitation to an interview. Seek to dress appropriately and be fresh for the chat. Don’t just appear as Akinyi did wearing her late afternoon sweaty attire and carrying with her heavy paper bags. Be presentable. Keep off extra luggage and switch off your phone. In case your phone is on, consider telling the callers you will get back to them later. This could be a sign of good phone etiquette. Do not put your host on hold as you talk to your friends on phone for minutes without end.

In case you receive the call for the chat for a day and time you realize you will not be at your best, be kind and request for another date to give you time to prepare. You would rather tell the potential employer you are not available on the suggested date and time than appear to the frustration of both parties. If given the chance to propose the meeting place, always go for the conservative venues. Never suggest that you go meet at a bar since the caller may not be a partaker of alcohol and may feel injured by your suggestion. Always pick on restaurants and suggest you could take tea or coffee together.

How do you respond to negative info about a potential employer?

This month, we have been focusing on concerns that mainly border on the job search process. Arising from the experiences of readers, today, we want to share thoughts on how to respond in situations where you receive negative reviews from friends about your potential employer. Job search is arguably one of the most draining processes that most of us go through.

We all look forward to the appointment letters that would symbolize the end of the struggles moving from office to office looking for employment. But after successfully going an interview, what you when after effectively negotiating for the terms of service and just when you have a few weeks to report, you learn of negative things about your potential employer? Would you assume the issues as hearsays or rumors and push on with your resolve to join the employer? Or would you reconsider your decision? What would the repercussions?

Catherine went through this experience firsthand a couple of months and shares her experiences. It was her dream job at a dream employer. Everything had worked out well for her and she was satisfied that God had eventually come through for her through the job search process. But 2 weeks before the reporting date, a close friend who got to learn of her impending move called her and pleaded with her to reconsider her decisions. According to the friend, the company Kate was about to join was known for violating the rights of the employees. It was alleged that the company had registered many cases of harassment of new female staff members by male supervisors and no action was ever taken against the perpetrators.

Kate considered herself an upright lady who would not bend for anything at the workplace. After consulting a few other persons who had close relations with staff at the company, Kate verified the fears and had to now decide her next move. In this dilemma, she sought for professional advice.

This can be a truly depressing position to find yourself in. It is important to note as people seek for employment, they are guided by not only the task they are to undertake, but also for the brand they are to work for. I have actually heard of people who are driven more by the desire to be associated with certain brand more than the specific work they are to do. In this case, you will want to be sure that the company is attractive and any mention of significant negatives about the desired employer should be a reason to be worried.
It is however important to dig deeper beyond the face allegations you hear from friends and former employees of the company just in case it is a rumor emanating from enemies of the employer. It just could be that the person raising your hairs about the employer could have had personal quarrels with the company that have nothing to do with the culture of the organization.

It is quite commendable that after listening to all the voices, Kate eventually decided to seek for professional advice. This is important. It is important since professional career advisers could support with getting quick and objectives reviews about the said employer. This information could help you in making a decision out of objective feedback and not necessarily based on personal experiences.

In case when you get the references that tend to confirm the fears, it may be late to make an about turn since you would have already engaged your mind for the job. Go on and report at your workplace armed with this information. The wisdom drawn from a West African proverb is helpful. Surprise can beat even the strongest. The information you have about the employer would help you set up your guards as you report and engage with the employer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

When job offer delay stalls your life

For how much longer must I wait for the promised confirmation of the job offer? This was the question Peter pondered over as he considered the best way to respond to a job search process that seemed to have been brought to its knees by a promise of a job offer that seemed to take forever to be confirmed. He had attended the job interview a month ago and had received an email confirmation from the potential employer that he had been considered as the best candidate. He however had been told to await the letter of offer as the official communication of the consideration.

As he celebrated the tentative offer, he hoped with every passing day that he would receive the job offer to enable him make the decision regarding writing the official resignation letter to his current employer. In his mind, he started off the resignation process and even drafted the resignation letter which he safely saved in his computer awaiting the opportune time to share it with his supervisor and the HR office.

A day passed, then a week and later another. He started panicking. What was going on. He perused through his emails again to confirm that he had actually being considered for the position as he imagined it could have been a beautiful dream he was responding to. It was true. He had the means to verify the communication.

As anxiety started to settle in, Peter started becoming unsettled. He had already whispered to a few of his workmates about his planned exit and every morning, the staff would check with him whether he had eventually resigned. This was not funny. It was pressure. At the beginning, he would tell them that the communication from the other end was about to land, but as time passed, he lost words. He started wondering why he had got the courage to disclose to others about his imminent departure as his disclosure was hurting him.

As time went by, he realized that he was losing grip of his daily engagements. His motivation levels were at their lowest point. He knew he was only present physically since his spirit and mind had already resigned. He wondered what the best response to the experience was.

Peter’s experience could be a reflection of what some of you are going through as you read this article. Waiting for official communication of a job offer can be a traumatizing experience. Traumatising it is because mentally, the job seeker disengages from the current employer and is left with no clear mental engagement with regard to a job offer. The job seeker suspends several critical decisions, both at personal and official levels as she realises that the new job offer would most likely have an impact on the implementation of the decision. At that point, you may need to decide on whether to renew a loan or not, pay rent for the month or not or even make a decision with regard to your children’s education. Should you change their school if the new job possibly takes you to a different county?

These decisions are crucial hence the need for quick responses from the potential employer. For the recruiters following this train of thought, I suggest to you to be keen to the recruitment process. It is important to note that the processes engage many persons emotionally to an extent that their lives easily stall as they await the feedback on the hiring process. It is hence important to consider prompt feedback to the potential employees to enable them move on with life as you engage in internal consultations.

You would rather send them a text with some updates implying that you are awaiting some form of authorization from a senior manager who may have flown out or a certain board member who needs to sign off the offer. As brief as this communication could appear to you as a recruiter, it could mean life or otherwise to an anxious job seeker.