Author and CFEC guest blogger: 

Doctor of Corporate Psychology

  Career-Planning: How to Plan for the Interview Process

The unreliable economy and the changes in the job market have certainly impacted the hiring the process negatively. There are now more applicants applying for the same position and applicants are expandintheir search to larger geographical distances. Needless to say, the hiring organizations are becoming more selective because they know there many more applicants available to them. The smart applicant has to not only spend the proper time to brush up their resume and cover letter, revamp their social media reach, and prepare for the interview, but they have to prepare for the 2nd, third and possibly fourth interview.

The first interview, is now mostly done by phone as a screening process. In order to save the recruiter time and effort. The good news is, if you make it past the first interview, it will probably mean you will be interviewing with the hiring manager who has better insight about the role for which you’re being considered. We are taught oftentimes that impression making is all about listening, but as someone that has been involved in the HR arena for over 15 years, I always advocate for two way interviewing. Just because the market is not as upward as we want it to be, we don’t have to settle. An individual who is asking the right questions during the interview can make a well-informed choice if and when they receive the job offer and if they don’t receive the offer, at least they know parts of the job that didn’t fit well within their schema of the right job. Job-hunting is an emotionally challenging task and we can’t possibly receive all yes’s. To stay feeling emotionally positive, and cognitively ready and up for the challenge it’s best to be in the pilot seat than the passenger. If you ask more questions now, rather than later, then the hiring manager will not wonder where your heart and intentions are and whether you were even paying attention.

Finding the ins and outs of the company and the job, doesn’t have to come after six months into the job. There are a lot of questions that can quickly get at the heart of the “True Side” of the job rather than what is portrayed as the “Perfect Side” .

Leader vs. Follower Role

Emotionally intelligent applicants know who they are; their personality, their work style and communication style. Before even applying to the position, the applicant would need to know that the position they are applying to is within the ream of their knowledge skills and abilities. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee ability, neither does education and training. Our genetic make-up generally defines our personality and knowing that make-up is very insightful in all aspects of life in dealing with others, but especially in career planning. If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, it is crucial to know you that, that interests you. Plenty of individuals are in follower positions and have less of a headache and more flexibility and their income is not necessarily capped either. On the other hand, a position could be posed as a leadership position, but once on-board, there is not a lot of latitude. If you enjoy and are good at understanding and withstanding subordinates and delegate work to them, you would want to ask that. Asking the right question regarding this in the 2nd interview will lead the hiring manager to explain where you stand in the company’s hierarchy as well as specifc decision-making capabilities of the role.

Norms, Expectations and Performance

The culture of an organization speaks volumes to how the everyday gets done. Walking in to an interview, the applicant needs to have already done their homework as to what type of culture the organization has. The 2nd interview will allow the applicant to ask questions pertaining to communication guidelines, work product reviews, valued actions, and rewarded behaviors. There are two sides to a job, the social aspects and hard skills. I always advocate that if the player doesn’t learn the rules governing the game early on, they are just throwing darts in the dark, hoping it will hit the board. The game is half branding, and reputation building, and half performance as generally defined by fulfilling the job description. All companies want their employees to meet their performance expectations. Its important to ask the hiring manager to explain to you through scenarios, “right” and “wrong” behaviors. Something as simple as resources (staff, copier, paper and ink) can cause conflict. Can you imagine miscommunications? Discussing scenarios and finding out how they are perceived or timelines are played, will not only speak to performance appraisals but also to the underlying rules that govern everyday actions before and after the reviews.

Career Path

I am always amazed to find out how many individuals fall in to the trap of taking a job that pays higher over a job that pays a little less but has a clearly defined path for growth. During the 2nd job interview, it is wise for the applicant to ask about the training and advancement process. Finding out what your role is and what the company’s role is, is very important. The employee contract is very employee driven now and if an applicant wants to succeed, he or she must clearly know what the unspoken rules of that contract are. A position may be on a basic tier level, meaning within a number of years or experiences the next position would be within access to the applicant. On the other hand, the position could be on a partnership track, meaning, a certain group would need to provide a positive evaluation for the individual to go up the ladder. So on and so forth. Asking that the hiring manager to simply provide examples of career advanacement within the company would be a great way to learn the process.

Network Building Opportunities

Social media has amazingly taken over the work culture. Employers not only use social media to make hiring decisions now, but also look at your network to see contacts that you will potentially bring with you. Furthermore, who you’ll be working with is just as important as what you will be working on. It is very typical for managers to invite you to take a tour of the office and meet some of the people with whom you’ll be working. Although this may be a good opener, it will not shed any light on the dynamics you may be walking into. Finding out names and doing a background search on the individuals would be a lot more useful. Again social media is great for that. You can also ask how the organization incorporates team work, how teams are formed, who and what determines which teams get what projects and how is the team evaluated. Knowing how messages are transmitted in an organization speaks volumes to how you will spend your day. The people you work with, ultimately become your second family. The difference is you have a chance at picking your second family.

Career-Planning: How to Plan for the Interview Process