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Following Up After an Interview

Getting a couple of extra words in after your interview can help you stand out during the interview process. It can be challenging to know how to follow up and to what extent so as not to overwhelm the interviewer/company.

How to contact

Luckily, current technology allows us to connect easily with those we have met. Usually, you will have a phone number or email contact at which you can reach them. If, for some reason, you do not have their direct contact info before the interview, ask for a business card so that you can reach them after the interview. Avoid snooping for their contact information online; it may appear aggressive. For example: if they responded to your follow-up message with “How on earth did you find me here?” you probably dug a little too deep.

What to say

The primary purpose of following up is to express your interest in the position you interviewed for and keep your name at the forefront of their minds. You could start the message by stating who you are and thanking them for the time they took to interview you. After this, you should express your excitement about the possibility of working with them. Make sure not to say anything that would sound assumptive of receiving an offer but emphasize that you would be excited about the prospect. To finish off, let them know that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

When to send it

There is no need to play games when sending a follow-up. Sending the message within 24-48 hours of the interview is a good general rule of thumb. Delaying further could be interpreted as you not caring too much about the position. If you do not hear back from the company a week from your interview, you may follow up again and ask if there are any updates.

Saying the right thing after an interview can be intimidating. Keep it simple. Give a nice thank you, state your excitement about the opportunity, and sign off.

3 Things to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview

We all have things we do when we are nervous or uncomfortable. Naturally, job interviews tend to be uncomfortable or nerve-wracking. You may want to consciously avoid a few critical things during an interview to appear more confident and on your game. Read below:

Sitting on your phone

It can be tempting to fill awkward waiting time with something—ANYTHING. There will inevitably be parts of the interview process where you must sit alone and wait (e.g., waiting to be called back, waiting for the next employee to come interview you). It can be so natural to whip out your phone and start scrolling. DON’T. If there are reading materials around you about the company, read those! If not, it is best to sit and just take in the space around you. Even if your interviewer doesn’t consciously think this, the interviewee being on their phone signals a short attention span and disinterest (even if that isn’t true of you!).

Fidgeting

It is natural to start wringing your hands or fiddling with your shirt buttons when you are nervous. Whenever we become conscious that we exist in our bodies, we feel the need to keep it busy with something. Just sit still with your hands in your lap. Contrary to (your) popular belief, you do not look awkward or odd; you are just more conscious of the fact that you are sitting still. Fidgeting is distracting to the interviewer, so try to avoid it. If you absolutely must fidget to remain calm and collected, try to do something that isn’t distracting/does not cause a lot of movement, like squeezing your hands under the table.

Talking negatively about past employers

Sometimes when we are asked about past negative experiences, it can be tough not to vent about how awful the job was. Even if you were mistreated, focus on the positives that resulted from that experience. Your potential future employer wants an employee that will respect their company and address issues with maturity. Even if you are entirely valid in having a bad experience at a past company, rise above and focus on ways you grew from it. Our recent article better explains how to approach this situation.

 Interviews are when you can let your personality shine—do not let nervous slip-ups overshadow you! Check out this Muse Article about how to appear confident in an interview.

Addressing a Negative Work Experience in an Interview

Most of us have had a job that left us feeling overworked, underappreciated, or just downright mad. Often, these jobs are on our resumes. How do you respond when you are asked about a bad job in an interview?

Why did you leave?

It is ok to be honest if asked why you left; just say it with grace. Instead of saying, “They treated their employees like dirt, and I just couldn’t take it anymore,” say, “I felt underappreciated at that job and felt that my skills could be better used elsewhere.” Try to end in a positive, e.g., “But it made me realize how much I loved {recruiting} and I would like to grow my skills at a well-rounded company like {JSG}.” By no means should you humbug your way through the interview as if everything is daisies and roses, but it is important to show the interviewer that you are hopeful for the future with their company.

What were the positives of the experience?

Very few negative experiences are all bad. You can talk about the parts of the job that you did enjoy. Did you learn to love the type of work you were doing? Have you learned to recognize the value of good coworkers? Did you gain some valuable experience in the field? Emphasize these points.

How did you learn from the negatives?

You can also talk about what you learned from the challenging experience. Did you learn the value of good leadership? Did you figure out what you do and don’t want in a company? How did you grow from this? Maybe you learned what does and doesn’t motivate you. Explain how this and other past experiences have molded your career path.

Past experiences are just that—part of our past! Do not let a negative experience impact you to the point where it jeopardizes future jobs. It does not deserve that power over you. Rise like a Phoenix from the ashes!

Why You Should Phone Interview Everyone

Okay, maybe you shouldn’t phone interview everyone, but what about those people on the cusp? The candidates whose resumes you review and think, “they’re so close but….” Our recruiting professionals have partnered with hundreds of clients and talked with thousands of candidates, and their biggest tip for staying competitive in today’s hiring market? Invest 15 minutes into a phone interview. Don’t simply discount someone because they don’t check every box. You could be missing out on incredible candidates with great attitudes, motivation to achieve, and passion for your work.

Your wish list might be unrealistic

When you craft a job description, you include all skills and experiences that you think are necessary. But have you ever stopped to take a closer look at what are your true must-haves? JSG Senior Vice President, Perry Paden, elaborates, “In today’s market, clients need to realize that the candidate that meets all the must-haves and the wish list may not be obtainable in today’s market. When a client looks at a resume and doesn’t see a particular skill, does not mean the candidate doesn’t have the skill or possess the ability to learn it quickly.”

Not everything fits on a resume

Many professionals’ careers are complicated webs of qualifications and experiences intricately woven together to make them who they are today. A simple resume can’t always display hundreds of projects and those subtle nuances that make all the difference. “You shouldn’t discount candidates based only on a resume because that doesn’t show the full picture!” shared Hayley Kancius, Recruiting Team Lead at JSG. “Often, people have been told to have a 1-page resume, and it can be challenging to fit 5+ years of experience and qualifications on 1 page.”

There’s always more to the story

A resume only tells a portion of someone’s story. Matt Owens, Business Development Manager at JSG, clarifies, “From a recruiting standpoint, we deal with a lot of hiring managers who focus a lot on employment gaps and/or job-hopping and don’t want to interview someone based on that. We fight for them since you never know the circumstances. Someone could have had a child and wanted to be home with their baby, medical reason, or just wanted a year off to go find out what they want to do, travel, etc.”

“Resumes only tell half of the story, and it’s up to you to complete the rest!” Kancius agreed.

People are more than their resumes

Many factors make a person hirable beyond their qualifications on paper. Kancius explains, “People have special projects, volunteer experience, and skills that are sometimes left out of a resume. Plus, you can’t show personality on a resume!”

Owens elaborated, “Some of the best resumes in the world don’t translate to being a good fit. (Soft skills are huge in the business world!).”

What traits do you value most when you look at your current team? We’d be willing to bet you’d list a variety of soft skills like passion, self-motivation, and communication. So, when you add your next employee, why not prioritize those same traits? “There are a tremendous number of candidates on the market that may fit the attitude, desire, and drive to make an impact, and if companies would invest in a 15-minute conversation, I think they would be surprised they may have uncovered a great employee. A team member that can adapt, has a thirst for knowledge and mentorship, and will impact a company’s bottom line,” Paden explains.

Have a conversation

As you seek to compete in an unprecedented hiring market, it can only benefit you to take a deeper look. Kancius concludes, “Hopping on the phone and taking a few minutes out of your day to prescreen a candidate is always worth the time.”

Still not convinced? Think of it from a different perspective as Owens explains, “As a hiring manager in my previous employment, I always wanted to interview someone. My philosophy is I always test drive a car before buying, no matter how good it looks on paper….why wouldn’t you do the same with a potential employee?”

We understand that you’re busy and can’t spend all day conducting phone interviews. That’s what we’re here for. Partner with JSG to fill your critical roles, and we will help whittle down candidates to the best fit for your company, team, and position. We look beyond the resume and have those conversations, so when we submit a candidate, you can trust that they will be a great fit. Ready to get started? Contact us today!

How To Assess Company Culture During A Remote Interview

When you interview in person, it’s easy to get a vibe of the office. You can observe how people interact, listen for the chatter around the water cooler, and maybe even interview with additional team members. Remote interviews make it challenging to assess company culture, although not impossible! Here’s your comprehensive guide to evaluating company culture during a remote interview.

Decide what’s most important

Company culture is a pretty broad, over-arching term. So, as you’re evaluating companies, it’s essential to start with what is most important to you. Which company values are non-negotiable for you? Are there cultural aspects that you can’t sacrifice? Consider common company culture facets such as work-life balance, collaboration, communication, career development, dress codes, and diversity hiring. We recommend nailing down three pieces of company culture that are most important to you before diving into your job search.

Be a web sleuth

Now that you’ve narrowed down what’s most important, you know what to look for! Now it’s time to do some digging. Of course, start with their website. Most companies will detail their mission and values there. Then, head to social media to see if you can find proof of those in their postings and photos. Next, check out their reviews on social and sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed. Remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, but look for indications of company culture. Additionally, you should seek out how the company responds to reviews – both positive and negative. These responses can reveal a lot about what they prioritize and how they handle controversy.

Ask specific questions

When it comes to the actual interview, you need to ask behavioral questions, but in reverse. So, instead of “what is the company culture like?”, get specific with what you identified as important earlier. For example, “diversity initiatives are very important to me. How has your company reacted to recent shifts in equality and calls for a more diverse workforce?” When you ask specific questions, you can get direct answers about what is most important to you.

Remember, it is possible to unveil a company’s culture during a remote interview. Not only that, but it’s also necessary to determine if it will be the right fit for your values and career goals. Looking for more interview and job search advice? Explore our candidate resources here!

How To Address Being Fired During An Interview

Job interviews are stressful under any circumstance. Add in having to address why you were fired from another position, and the anxiety can be almost crippling. However, it is NOT a deal-breaker! It is possible to gracefully cover a previous firing while selling yourself during an interview. Here’s exactly how to address the fact that you were fired during your next job interview.

Be Honest

First and foremost, be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you were let go or lie about the reasoning behind it. A reference check or industry connections could easily expose the truth and prevent you from receiving an offer. And unfortunately, in this situation, it won’t be the firing itself that keeps you from your next position but the deceit surrounding it. So, when the interviewer asks why you left your job, address it head-on.

Keep It Brief

While explaining past firings, keep it brief. You can tackle this directly without divulging too many details. Don’t let the conversation linger on past mistakes. Additionally, leave emotions out of it. There is a fine line between explaining your employment situation and airing grievances about your past company, manager, or coworkers. Instead, be straightforward in your answer and focus on moving the narrative towards the future.

Demonstrate Growth

After your brief, honest explanation about your situation, it’s important to demonstrate to your interviewer that it won’t happen again. Hopefully, you learned an important lesson that you’re ready to carry into a new job. Share that lesson and use it as an opportunity to articulate why this job is a great fit. In the end, it should transition nicely to you selling yourself for the position.

Remember, past firings are not a deal-breaker for employers. They are not concerned about whether you are suitable for someone else’s job; they want to know why you are ideal for their job. Ultimately, they want to see that you are honest, direct, and able to take responsibility for your actions.

Are you looking for more interview advice? Head to our candidate resources! We have endless amounts of insights on interview questions, what to wear, and how to follow up. Good luck!

How to Professionally Decline a Job Interview Request

When you are knee-deep in your job search, you feel on top of the world when a recruiter or HR professional reaches out to you about scheduling an interview. But in today’s red-hot job market, receiving yet another interview request can make you shake your head. There can be a few reasons you need to decline an interview invitation. Maybe you just accepted another job offer, your employment situation has changed, or there are too many red flags that make you shy away from the invitation. Regardless of your reason, here is how to professionally decline a job interview request.

Why it’s essential to respond to an interview request

Your first thought when someone sends you an interview request that you are not interested in is to ignore the email. That may be the easier solution, but it’s the one that can come back to haunt you. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s never okay to ghost a recruiter or prospective employer. It’s a small world, and you never know when your employment situation might change. The last thing you want to do is just ignore the request and go about your day. It can feel awkward to decline a job interview request, but it’s the professional thing to do if you are no longer interested.

How you should decline an interview request

So now that you know it’s crucial to respond to the request, how do you do it? First of all, make sure you are sure. Think long and hard about your decision before you fire off that “no thank you” email. Once you are confident in your decision to decline, do so as soon as you can. You are probably really busy, especially if you recently accepted another opportunity, but it’s important to respond promptly.

When creating your response, start with gratitude. Thank the recruiter or HR professional for thinking of you and extending an interview invitation – similar to how you begin a post-interview thank-you note. After you thank them for the opportunity, briefly explain your reasoning. Your response should be vague (there is no need to get lost in the details). Next, wish them luck on their search and offer to stay connected with them in case something changes on either side. Bonus points if you can recommend a friend or colleague for the role you are turning down!

Example for declining a job interview

Hi [Name],

Thank you for taking the time to review my application materials and inviting me to interview for the [Position Title] role. However, I, unfortunately, need to withdraw my application from consideration at this time. I recently accepted an offer from another organization.

I wish you the best of luck filling this role. I would love to stay connected, and hopefully, we can work together in the future. Thank you again for your consideration.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

Outdated Interview “Rules” That No Longer Apply

For as long as interviews have been around, there have been a set of “Interview Rules.” Some were explicit, and some unwritten, but all were standard practice for years. However, the hiring process has recently undergone a significant transformation. Both hiring managers and candidates are now challenging once standard practices. Here are three examples of outdated interview rules that no longer apply.

You always need to dress “business formal”

Business formal used to be the standard for interviews. It was expected that you showed up in a formal suit and tie or plain skirt and blazer. This still may be the case for more traditional business industries such as banking or investments. However, it is no longer the rule for all interviews. We encourage you to dress “one step up” from the company’s dress code. Check out our guide to dressing business casual for an interview here.

You must kick off the interview with a firm handshake

A global pandemic stopped this outdated interview rule in its tracks. Not only is it a quick way to spread germs, but it also makes people uncomfortable. Many hiring managers are coming around to the idea of allowing a candidate to dictate which greeting they are comfortable with. It is now perfectly acceptable to give a wave or a friendly nod and smile as you meet your interviewer.

You cannot ask about salary or PTO during an interview

Until recently, it was completely taboo to discuss salary or PTO during an interview. However, the tables have recently shifted. It is now understood that people have a right to know the salary range and if it will be a good fit with your goals. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how employers and employees alike think about PTO. If it is important to you to know how a prospective employer handles sick time, potential exposures, and benefits, don’t be afraid to address it.

These interview rules and more are being challenged every day. Just remember that when you’re interviewing, it is a two-way street. You may want the job, but employers are looking for someone who will be a good fit and voice their opinions and questions! So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, stick to what you’re comfortable with, and dress in a way that represents you and the company.

How to Respond to “Walk Me Through Your Resume”

At the beginning of a job interview, the hiring manager will typically start the meeting off with an introductory or ice breaker question. This question usually is some iteration of, “Tell me a little more about yourself.” However, some interviewers may also begin an interview by saying, “Can you walk me through your resume?” So, what’s the difference in this interview question, and what are hiring managers looking for in your response?

What the interviewer is looking for

When an interviewer asks you to walk them through your resume, they are looking for a brief overview of your work history. Essentially, this is your elevator pitch of who you are and highlights what you bring to the table. This question is your chance to connect the dots between your experience, skill sets, and qualifications to paint a picture of your candidacy to the hiring team. In other words, it’s kind of like audibly going through the same details you would share in a cover letter but with a human element since you have the platform to present it face-to-face in your meeting.

Tailor your answer

So, now you know why interviews ask you to walk them through your resume, how do you formulate your answer? Well, just like your resume, you must tailor your response here to fit the role you are interviewing for. The things you touch on must be relevant for the position you are meeting about. If you don’t have certain qualifications that are imperative for this position, this is your opportunity to elaborate on your transferrable skills. If you are well into your career, there is no need to go over every position you’ve had. Don’t go beyond 10 – 15 years. This overview is supposed to be short and sweet, like an elevator pitch.

Current, past, future

So, before you launch into your answer, you have to ensure you have the proper framework. It’s best to kick off our answer with your current position and skillsets. This position is where you should focus your energy because it will likely relate to the job you are interviewing for. Next, touch on your past roles. Briefly give a high-level overview of your duties, responsibilities, and projects as they relate to this new position. Finally, wrap your answer up by discussing the future. This is where you explain your career goals and why this position is an excellent fit for you. Using this format will help you deliver a concise yet effective response to “walk me through your resume.”

Practice makes perfect

The hiring manager asking you to walk through your resume is a common interview opener, and thus, you must practice your response. Yes, you should tailor your answer for each position, but your first impression will be lackluster if you don’t have your response pinned down. Practice rehearsing your response out loud to help you sound confident during your interview. If you are not ready to answer this question, you will likely start to ramble, and your response will be more incoherent. This response sets the tone for the rest of your interview, so you must have it ironed out to receive that job offer!

Want more interview advice?

The next time an interviewer asks you to, “Walk me through your resume,” you will be ready to answer this question confidently and effectively. If you are interested in more interview advice, take a look at our blog! We have hundreds of helpful articles with tips, tricks, and examples to help you nail your interview. Good luck!

3 Phrases to Never Say During a Job Interview

When you finally land an opportunity to interview for a role that you are excited about, you probably have many emotions going through your mind. You are excited, relieved, anxious, and all of the above. However, how you present yourself primarily comes from your word choice or the phrases you use. Even small changes in your responses can have massive implications and leave your credibility in doubt with the hiring team. Here are three phrases to never say during a job interview to help you seal the deal.

“I don’t have much experience with this, but”

If there is a particular skill set that the hiring manager inquires about during your interview, never follow up with an answer like this, even if it’s true. Never lie about your qualifications during an interview (or any time during the hiring process). But, in your response, highlight the capabilities and experiences that you do have instead of focusing on the ones you don’t. If your answer emphasizes your limitations, you are making the hiring manager’s decision pretty easy. Basically, you must show how your experience makes you an asset or that you are ready for a new challenge. You can cross off everything on the hiring team’s list, but if you make them think you are unqualified for the position, you are doing yourself a disservice.

“My salary expectations are $X, but I am flexible.”

Never say this phrase during a job interview. If you are in a pre-screen meeting or a final interview, this question may arise. If a hiring professional asks you about your salary expectations, you must be prepared to answer this question. Do your due diligence beforehand to understand what you are worth. This range will be based on your field, location, years of experience, and qualifications. Once you have a number in mind, stick to it. Unless you really don’t care about your salary requirements, never say that you are flexible. Even if you are flexible with your pay, stating that you are flexible indicates to the hiring manager that you are willing to take less money. Instead of saying you are flexible with your salary, use your research to your advantage.

Here is an example: “for my next career move, I am looking for a salary between $65,000 and $70,000. This is based on comparisons from other professionals in this market with over five years of experience in this field and the unique skills I bring to the table.”

If you are looking for more advice on discussing salary expectations during an interview, check out this blog!

“I don’t have any questions.”

When you get to the end of almost any interview, the interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. If your response is, “I don’t have any questions,” you are writing your own rejection letter. Having a few meaningful questions prepared is your opportunity to illustrate your interest in the position and make a lasting impression on the hiring team. Before your meeting, have a couple of questions at the ready. These questions can be about the role, the company, the team, or even about something one of the interviews mentioned earlier in the discussion.

If you want some help generating some questions to ask during your interview, here is some insight on what kind of questions you should be asking (and with some examples!).

So, these are three phrases to never say during a job interview. If you are looking for more interview advice, we have a plethora of tips and tricks on the JSG Blog!