How to Navigate Awkward Holiday Job Conversations

How to Navigate Awkward Holiday Job Conversations

We all have a relative or two that don’t know how to read a room. Whether it’s asking questions about your dating life, politics, or work, many of us are preparing to deal with uncomfortable questions from our relatives. After all, this may be the first time seeing some of your friends or family members since the pandemic! So, if you are dreading seeing that provoking relative over the coming weeks, here’s how to navigate awkward holiday job conversations.

Prepare your answer ahead of time

Thousands of people throughout the country are still struggling to find work after the pandemic ruptured the labor market. Thus, this can be a sensitive subject for some, especially if you are struggling to land a new job. But like a job interview, it can be helpful to prepare answers to tricky questions ahead of time. If you are anxious about awkward holiday job conversations, prepare your responses before your family gatherings. Think about how you want to answer these questions beforehand and rehearse them so you can keep your responses short and sweet. Preparing an answer to these uncomfortable questions can make you feel a little less apprehensive about this time of the year.

Share where you are going vs. where you’re at

Another easy way to navigate awkward holiday job conversations is to focus on where you’re going instead of where you are currently at. Rather than focusing on the negative (unemployment, no offers, bad interviews, terrible hiring process, etc.), share where you are going. Don’t center these conversations about all the negative aspects of your job search and discuss where you want to be. For example, describe to your relative the type of job or company you are looking to join. Talk about your career goals and what you’d like to achieve. Essentially, emphasize the positive, the end-goal rather than the negative parts of your job search.

Don’t stop searching!

In the past, the holidays have been a time when hiring slows down for many employers as people take time off. However, not this year! With 10.4 million job openings and a record-breaking quit rate, hiring won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Thus, this time of year is your chance to take advantage of all the job seekers taking this time off or slowing down their searches. With fewer people actively looking because of this busy time of year, you will have less competition to beat out to land a new job. The best way to avoid awkward holiday job conversations is to keep your head up high and don’t slow down.

If you are still looking for your next career move, check out our job board! We have hundreds of job opportunities across North America, with employers looking for top talent like you.

How To Properly Reject Candidates

How To Properly Reject Candidates (With Examples)

You’re hiring, and congratulations, you found the perfect candidate! You send them an offer letter, they accept, and you start the onboarding process. But hang on just a second; your job is not finished! There were dozens, maybe even hundreds, of other people who invested time and energy into your job posting. And you owe them an explanation. Unfortunately, “ghosting” candidates has become all too common practice. In fact, a whopping 65% of people said they have not heard back from a position they applied for recently. Leaving candidates ‘on read’ is not only just wrong, but it can also have a significant effect on your company’s reputation. So, here are the steps your hiring team should take to properly reject candidates to maintain your reputation and be respectful to everyone’s time.

Contact Everyone 

Yes, we mean every single person that applied. You have to consider that everyone who applied for your job took valuable time out of their day to do so. And many went to the lengths of customizing their resume, writing a cover letter or personalizing a submission email. The very least you can do is give them the courtesy of a response! If your hiring team did not have a conversation with a candidate or they didn’t make it to the initial interview round, a simple rejection template is acceptable. When you, unfortunately, have to reject candidates, keep it short and sweet:

Hi John, 

Thank you so much for taking the time to apply for the Account Executive position at ABC Company. We received numerous applications for this role, and at this time, we have decided not to move forward with other candidates. Please note that we have saved your application on file and will contact you regarding future positions that fit your skill sets!

We wish you the best in your current job search and future endeavors.


The Hiring Team at ABC Company 

Send Personalized Messages to Those You Interviewed 

While we recommend that you contact any rejected interviewees by phone, we understand that this is not always possible due to time constraints. If you must send an email, take the time to personalize it. Of course, it’s standard to start with a template, but there are opportunities to reference your interactions with the candidate throughout. Mention some of their qualifications that stood out, a question they answered particularly well, or even a hobby you might have had in common.

Hi Jane,

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview for our Account Executive position at ABC Company. We loved having the opportunity to get to know you and hear more about your experience in the field. I was especially impressed by your sales numbers from last year; you are certainly a go-getter! Unfortunately, we received dozens of qualified applications, and we have made the difficult decision to proceed with another candidate at this time.

Please note that we have saved your application on file and will contact you regarding any future positions that become available!

We wish you the best in your current job search and future endeavors.


The Hiring Team at ABC Company

86% of job seekers want constructive feedback about their performance, but only 57% receive any. Thus, as your reject candidates that didn’t quite fit the bill, you can set yourself apart by providing them with feedback.

Be Timely When You Reject Candidates

Most importantly, be timely in sending your rejections to candidates. As soon as you know you will not offer the position to someone, you should send the rejection. As mentioned above, these people have invested time and energy into applying with your company and should be given the opportunity to move on to their next application as soon as possible. We do not recommend waiting until your new employee starts or even until they have accepted the offer. If, by some chance, your primary choice ends up pulling out at some point, your backup candidates will have much more respect for you if you reach back out than if you left them hanging.

Need more hiring advice in this tight market?

So, that’s how your hiring team can properly reject candidates while maintaining your company’s reputation. Are you interested in stepping up your hiring game even further? Explore our client resources here and talk to one of our experienced team members about how we can carry the burden of candidate communication while you focus on what you do best.

The Reason You’re Not Getting Interviews (That Has Nothing To Do With Your Resume)

The Reason You’re Not Getting Interviews (That Has Nothing To Do With Your Resume)

We are in a very interesting market currently. As companies ramp back up to pre-pandemic productivity, they are hiring like crazy. Likewise, candidates are finally feeling stable enough to look for new positions. This has created a fascinating whirlwind of hiring, making desirable jobs very competitive. If you’re one of the candidates dipping your toe in the job market waters, you’ve probably got your game face on. Your resume is refreshed and perfected, you’ve practiced your interviewing skills, and you know your worth when it comes to accepting an offer. While all of that is great, there could be one thing keeping you from getting interviews and landing the next step in your career: timeliness. Today we’re breaking down the benefits of getting your application in as soon as possible.

Why You Should Apply ASAP

In a competitive job market, recruiters receive hundreds, maybe even thousands, of job applications for one job. Unfortunately, they simply do not have time to comb through every single resume they receive. If they are especially motivated to fill a critical need, they will start scheduling interviews as they receive qualified resumes. This means that the sooner you apply, the more likely you will receive an invitation to interview. Keep in mind that this is especially true at large companies or for particularly competitive positions.

Additionally, a quick application shows that you are ready to work. It can indicate that this is a company you are particularly motivated to work at, or that the job matches your qualifications well, or even just that you really want the position!

How To Be One Of The First Applicants

First, you need to be aware of the opening. The best way to do this is to subscribe to job alerts. Head to sites like Indeed and LinkedIn and subscribe to relevant job alerts. Be sure to set your searches up in a way that will inform you of any job title relevant to your career goals. Additionally, check out recruiting company job boards (like JSG) as we often have exclusive job listings you won’t find anywhere else. Join our Talent Network here for up-to-date alerts on jobs in your area!

Second, you must have your job application materials ready at all times. Take a weekend to spruce up your job materials, including your resume and cover letter template. If you’re currently employed, head to your resume to update it every time you complete a big project. Reach out to your professional references now, so you can have them ready to submit. Yes, this can be a little awkward if you’re just testing the waters. However, just be upfront and honest with them about your career goals (and don’t use anyone at your current job!)

At the end of the day, keep in mind that this is not universal advice. There are plenty of great companies out there who will cull through every single resume they receive to give every applicant a fair shot at interviews, even if they apply in the final hour. However, it will never be detrimental to be one of the first applicants for a job, so why not go for it?

Are You Interviewing With Other Companies

Interview Question: Are You Interviewing With Other Companies?

What They Want To Know

There are a few reasons that hiring managers want to ask this question. The main one being that they want to know who they are in competition with! Additionally, it provides insights into the types of roles that interest you. Do you really want to work in this industry, or is it more about the job duties? The best way to answer if you are interviewing with other companies is with honesty.

If you are interviewing elsewhere, briefly mention that you are in the interview process with other companies. If you are not interviewing with other companies, let the hiring manager know why this position piques your interest. Either way, always bring it back to the role you’re currently interviewing for.

Example Answers For “Are You Interviewing With Other Companies?”

If you’re interviewing elsewhere: “I am currently in the interview process with a couple of different companies. All of the positions I’m interviewing for are quality assurance roles. That being said, I am interested in working for this company in particular, and I believe that my skills would be a great fit for this role.”

If you are not interviewing anywhere else: “I have applied for several positions; however, this is my first interview. I’m excited about this position specifically because it would be a great fit for my skill set and experience in the Civil Engineering realm.”

Final Comments

Both of these answers briefly touch on your involvement in other application processes. However, they bring it back to the position you’re currently interviewing for. Better yet, it reinforces your qualifications and reassures the hiring manager that you would be a great fit. Honesty is the best policy, and it allows you an additional opportunity to sell yourself.

Need help answering more common interview questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!

You Need To Interview Differently, Starting Today

You Need To Interview Differently, Starting Today

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has changed the hiring landscape. The effects of this pandemic will be felt throughout organizations for years to come, and it will permanently change how we do business. One thing you can start changing now is how you interview. By making a few adjustments, you’ll be able to continue hiring talented candidates during uncertain times. Try incorporating these three things into your interview process while hiring for your next role to get ahead of your competition!

Be Open To Long-Distance Hiring

Gone are the days of flying candidates across the country to interview for a position. We do not know how long the effects of the Coronavirus will last. Even after the threat of COVID-19 has passed, it will be good practice to limit exposure as much as possible. In order to hire top talent before your competition, we are coaching our clients on how to hire virtually. Over the phone or via a video conference, you can still get a thorough understanding of whether someone will be a good fit for the position or not. It all comes down to asking the right questions.

Stop Grilling Candidates About Employment Gaps

With unemployment claims now reaching over 33 million, there will be just as many gaps on resumes. It’s time we stop judging candidates on resume gaps or presumed “job hopping.” Instead, focus on the value they can add to your team. To ensure that they are in it for the long haul, be sure to ask questions about why they want this position, and where they see themselves in the future. (It’s okay to press for more in-depth, realistic answers to these questions to make an accurate assessment!)

Be Upfront About PTO & Benefits

In the past, it was considered in poor taste for candidates to ask about PTO and benefits during an interview. However, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, these policies have become more than just “work perks.” Moving forward, candidates will want to ensure that they can take adequate time to heal and recover or care for family members. They will also be comparing company benefits such as healthcare, 401k matching, and wellness initiatives. It will work to your advantage to explain your benefits package during the interview. As a result, candidates can make an informed decision about the next step in their career.

For more articles on the Coronavirus and how it is affecting the job market, head here.

hiring process

This Is Where Your Hiring Process Fails

Are you having a hard time hiring in today’s competitive market? Do you find yourself mulling over your hiring process, wondering where it all went wrong? While every situation is different, and occasionally some factors are  entirely out of your control, we can often pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Here are three basic reasons why your hiring process is failing.

It Takes Too Long

The number one reason candidates stray from your hiring process is because it takes too long! There is a saying in the recruiting world, “time kills all deals,” and it is truer than ever in this candidate-driven market. With multiple job offers on the table, candidates don’t have time to wait for a long, drawn-out hiring process. The longer your process, the more likely your candidates will pull out of contention.

You Require Too Many Interviews

To add another layer, requiring too many interviews can significantly affect the length of your hiring process. When the “interviewing stage” consists of phone interviews, video interviews, panel interviews, in-person interviews, informal team meet-and-greets, etc., your candidates will undoubtedly be turned off. Keep your interview process simple and only involve those who are on a “need-to-know” basis. If you can eliminate steps throughout your process, you will save valuable time and resources without spooking your candidates.

You’re Afraid to Commit

If you’ve interviewed a fantastic candidate, but are still hesitant to pull the trigger, you could be missing out on a great opportunity. Once you’ve found a strong candidate, stop scheduling more interviews! If you go all-in on a job prospect, they’re likely to return the favor.

If you find your hiring process lacking, it’s time to partner with JSG. We have helped thousands of clients discover qualified candidates, improve their hiring process, and achieve their growth goals. Contact us today to learn more!

How To Make A Panel Interview Work For Your Hiring Process

How To Make a Panel Interview Work For Your Hiring Process

How To Make A Panel Interview Work For Your Hiring Process

There are many steps you can take to determine if a candidate is right for a position. Your goal is to decide whether or not they have the skills and experience needed to be successful in a role. Additionally, you want to understand if they will be a culture fit with your team. Arguably one of the best ways to do this is by holding a panel interview. In a recent study of performance and interview ratings, Google found that “averaging the ratings of a group of interviewers was by far a more accurate predictor of success than the rating of a single interviewer.”

By gathering company leaders or team members that a candidate would work closely with if hired, you add a variety of perspectives into your hiring process. Your employees get the opportunity to ask pointed questions during this time. Additionally, your candidate will get a glimpse at the team dynamics. But how do you add a panel interview to your hiring process successfully? Keep reading for our top tips on incorporating this crucial step!

Ensure that everyone is up to speed

If your panel involves employees who have not been involved in the hiring process thus far, it’s important to get them caught up. Before the interview, give everyone a copy of the candidate’s resume. This allows them to read about the experience and formulate specific questions. Let everyone know where this candidate is at with respect to the hiring process – is this their third interview? Have they already met with key leaders in the organization? Finally, lay out the goal of this panel interview. Is it to make a final hiring decision? Or is to determine which role on the team would be the best fit?

Give everyone a chance to engage

The main benefit of holding a panel interview is access to viewpoints. Ideally, your interviewers will ask different questions and focus on varied experiences and skill sets throughout the candidates’ past. That’s why each member of the panel must have the opportunity to engage with the interviewee! More than likely, the variety of questions will spark follow-up questions from other panel members, making for a much more dynamic interview all around.

Ask for individual feedback after the interview

To avoid groupthink, it’s important to let each member of the panel form their own opinion prior to discussing as a group. Before coming together to discuss the interview, have each team member submit their thoughts on the candidate separately. This allows you to get an unbiased view of the candidate from multiple perspectives.

Want more information on interviewing and hiring? Subscribe to the JSG newsletter for the latest and greatest tips from a recruiting team who has hired thousands of candidates.


5 Phrases to Never Say in an Interview


Interviews can make or break your chance of getting a job offer. And when you’re interviewing for a company, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do in certain scenarios. So here are five things you should never say during a job interview.

“So what does your company do exactly?”

First off, this is one of the worst things to ask or say in an interview because it shows you didn’t do your homework. Before every interview, you need to be researching the company and know as many facts as possible. If you walk into an interview not knowing what the company does, how are you supposed to demonstrate that you’re a good fit?

If you don’t show initiative and you expect those interviewing you to be “pitching” their company to you, you’re going to be cut from the running of the position. They’re the ones interviewing you. And if you think that not doing your research before coming into an interview will help land you the job, you’re sadly mistaken.

“I hated working for my last company.”

Even if this is 100 percent true, you shouldn’t say this in an interview. It will just give the hiring manager a bad taste in their mouth. Everyone knows there are obvious reasons you’re looking for a new job. But bashing your old company makes you look pessimistic and that you think you’re too good for people. This is obviously not the impression you want to be giving off in an interview.

So, instead of focusing on the negative that has happened in your past work history, focus on all the skills you learned that have prepared you for this new position. Maybe explain how the difficult working conditions helped you advance your leadership skills. This way the interviewees know that even in adversity, you take the high road and do the best you can.

“I need to be paid X amount”

When it comes to discussing salary and benefits, it’s a huge part of negotiating a new job. But if you are in the first rounds of interviews, it can show that you’re a little too eager and expecting to be hired. Which can be seen in a very negative light.

Don’t bring up salary expectations until it is prompted by the interviewee. This way you don’t make the mistake of hiring yourself before the company does.

“I’ll do anything”

The last thing you want to do in an interview is set yourself up for failure. When saying this phrase, it makes you look desperate and that you might be easily taken advantage of. Every company wants employees that will go over and beyond. But they want each person to know they can’t do everything. And it’s impossible to expect someone to do that.

When you say this in an interview, it looks like you just get walked on in a working environment. The last thing you want a new company to think about is that you’ll get burned out quickly and leave.

“I don’t have any bad qualities.”

First, we all have bad qualities. But not being able to spot them is an even bigger red flag for a future company. Of course, no one wants to talk about these weaknesses, but there is a way to make them sound positive instead of negative. With this answer, you’re coming across as someone who doesn’t want to work on themselves. And someone who might not be much of a team player. In an interview, this isn’t the way you want to come across.

So, instead of saying you don’t have bad qualities, just be honest. Make sure you tell them how working on these characteristics has helped you become a better employee. And more willing to work on yourself to get better so that you can help the company become more successful.

Overall, avoiding these statements in an interview will help you tremendously. Interviews can be hard and stressful, but if you’re prepared on what not to do, you’ll be more successful and could even get that job offer you’ve been waiting for.

The Best Interview Advice On LinkedIn

The Best Interview Advice On LinkedIn

The Best Interview Advice On LinkedIn

Every Thursday, we do something fun on social media aptly named “Thursday Thoughts,” where we ask our followers to share their insights and advice on various career-related topics. Recently, we asked, “What is the best advice you like to give out before someone you know interviews?”

Here are some of our favorite answers:

“Start off with a firm handshake and eye contact when introducing yourself.”

First impressions are everything when it comes to interviews! You only get one chance to make a great first impression. A firm handshake and eye contact are a great way to start off on the right foot (and don’t forget a smile!).

“At Johnson Search Group, we like to coach our candidates on the due diligence prior to their interview. Doing this aids you in talking points throughout the interview process.”

Doing your research before an interview will boost your confidence and make a notable impact on your interviewer. Try to look for information beyond just the company website. Keep an eye out for social media updates on company culture, any recent news, and search for your interviewer on LinkedIn. Jot down a couple tidbits that you can sprinkle into your interview answers or that inspire a couple end-of-interview questions.

“If you are in the interview room before the interviewer, don’t be on your phone when they come in. I personally think it’s unprofessional and may not be the best first impression.”

Not only does phone scrolling tend to look unprofessional, it’s a waste of valuable time! If you’re waiting for your interviewer to arrive, it’s the perfect opportunity to review your pre-interview notes, get out copies of your resume, or even just to observe the environment around you (you never know what you might learn!).

“Ask questions. It’s not just you being right for the company, it’s if the company is also right for you.”

Asking great questions at the end of the interview will not only show how invested you are in this position, it will help you determine if this is the right company, culture fit, and job for you. (These are some of our favorites!)

And most importantly…

“Prepare, prepare, prepare…. Research the company, ask for the job description, look up your interviewers on LinkedIn. Think of examples to use that highlight your skills, write them down if you need to. Be confident and energetic when communicating the information you gained from this preparation.”

We think Christopher summed it up pretty nicely – never go into an interview unprepared! For more interview, resume, and job search tips, visit the JSG Blog.

How To Survive A Panel Interview, Johnson Service Group, people, reach, hire, inspire, panel interview, interview tips, interview help, leader,

How To Survive A Panel Interview

How To Survive A Panel Interview

It’s almost a rarity these days to get through a hiring process without sitting a panel interview. They are both wonderful AND terrifying. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the members of the team and get a feel for the company culture. On the other hand, it can be unpredictable – filled with rapid fire questions that seem to come out of left field. Follow these 6 tips to prepare, and you’ll not only survive a panel interview, you’ll pass with flying colors!

  1. Know who you’re meeting

This is no different than a one-on-one interview, but it is more intense. It is essential to find out who you’re meeting before your interview. Take a look at everyone’s social media profiles and try to remember a distinctive thing about each. This will help you with name recognition and could provide you with some relatable talking points that will make you stand out amongst the crowd.

  1. Find & speak to the leader

There’s always a leader during a panel interview. Sometimes it’s your potential new boss, sometimes it’s their boss, and sometimes it’s someone in a completely different department who plays an integral part at the company. Once you’ve identified who it is, pay particular attention to them – the questions they ask, their body language, and how they interact with everyone else on the panel. Be sure to address them frequently throughout the interview, as they will probably have a significant amount of weight on the final decision.

  1. Make eye contact

Always make eye contact with each interviewer as they ask you a question. But when you’re answering, shift your eye contact to the different people in the room. A panel interview is a group effort, and they are all interested in hearing your story and getting to know you.

  1. Actively listen

While you are being asked a question, or told a story, or given the company history from one person on the panel, you have a number of other people simply watching you. This is a great opportunity to show off your body language A-game! Uncross those arms, nod your head, and slightly lean towards whoever is talking. It’s true that actions speak louder than words, especially when everyone is watching!

  1. Be ready for follow up questions

The variety of people in a panel interview are what makes it fun, but also challenging. Oftentimes, questions from one person will spark questions from another, and eventually, they’ve totally lost track of that list of standard questions they came in with. This makes it harder to prepare, but also much more exciting and authentic. Just don’t be afraid to take a moment after someone asks a question to formulate an articulate answer!

  1. Prepare unique questions

Due to the great research you did earlier, you should have a little bit of information on each person you’re interviewing with. Panel Member A went to your alma matter, Panel Member B has been at the organization the longest, Panel Member C used to work at a company you’re familiar with… use these tidbits to your advantage when asking questions. Target each of your post interview questions to each individual panel member. Then, at the end, ask them each to describe their favorite thing about working for this company. Not only is it a fun opportunity for them to reflect and share stories with one another, it’s the perfect chance for you to really understand what it’s like to work there!