wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday! Here we go…

1. Reapplying at a company that rejected me a few months ago

Several months ago, I applied for an admin position at a large, well-known company. I made it through two phone interviews and was even flown in to interview in person. The in-house interview was grueling (6 people in 4 hours, with no breaks), but ultimately a great experience. Unfortunately, two days after I returned home, I got a call from the recruiting manager telling me I was out and when I pressed for feedback, all I was granted was that I was “long-winded.” Until that point, I was actually fairly confident on my performance throughout.

A few weeks ago, I posted an interview review on Glassdoor.com. It was quite positive. Two days later, I got notification that the recruiting manager had found me and started following me on Twitter. The timing seems too suspect to be coincidence, as it had been months since I had any contact with the company. This company has postings all the time for positions that I’m interested in, and I’ve been told by several sources that it’s a great place to work. What should I do? Do I keep reapplying online? Should I email the recruiting manager directly to see what my chances are?

Normally I’d say to simply apply and drop the recruiter a short email letting her know and reminding her who you are, but since you’re talking about frequent postings, do this instead: Email her and say, “You often have positions I think I’d be a good match for, but I don’t want to bombard you with applications. Would you encourage my applications for jobs like the X and the Y you currently have open, or based on my interview in June, do you think it’s not quite the right fit?”

Also, take seriously that feedback about being long-winded. That can indeed kill an otherwise good candidacy, and you’re lucky they told you — that’s the kind of reason for rejecting someone that a lot of employers feel too awkward about explaining.

2. Government intern with questions

I’ve been working a federal government job for the past 5 months. When I started, they hired me as an intern working 37.5 hours a week. I hardly asked for time off, only to go to doctor’s appointments when needed. The “internship” was only to be for 4 months with the possibility to hire permanently. Well after the 4 months, they decided to keep me until the end of the year (which is great). I’m getting paid double what I was getting paid before. This is where I get confused. Now they’re calling me a “part-time intern” with no benefits or vacation time. But if I’m “part-time,” doesn’t that mean that I would be working less hours and less money? Plus during this whole internship, they never kept me updated until weeks later when I started asking questions. The manager is very slack when it comes to management skills. They never gave me an official title for my job. How do I ask these questions without overstepping my boundaries and learning more about what I’m doing for when its time to find another job? Is the “part-time” title and no benefits working for the federal government fair by law?

They probably define anything less than 40 hours a week as part-time (so you were part-time earlier too), but just ask them. It’s normal for internships not to include benefits and not to have a title beyond “intern.” (On your resume, though, you can simply write “intern” and not “part-time intern.”) And don’t resent the fact that you had to ask them questions about your future rather than them coming to you; this is often the case at work.

Whenever you’re wondering about stuff like this, it’s fine just to ask your employer.

3. My reference doesn’t answer calls from unknown numbers

I recently emailed my reference from an internship because I’d like to use her a reference for a job I’m interviewing for, and she asked if it would be possible for her to call the place I’m applying to instead of having them call her (she has personal reasons for not answering unknown numbers). I don’t know what to do. Should I just give the place her email instead of a phone number? Should I ask the place if they can give me the phone number they’d be calling from to give to my reference because she screens calls? Should I ask them if they could give me a phone number for her to call?

Give them her email with a note that she often doesn’t answer calls from unknown numbers. They can work it out with her from there. (Or they can call her and leave a voicemail, and she’ll presumably get the message and call them back.)

4. Negotiating up from a low salary requirement

Is there any way to negotiate up from a low minimum salary requirement that I put on an application during the interviewing stage? My boyfriend seems to think they’re only going to offer me my minimum (if I do get an offer), but I took the term “minimum” for what was — the absolute lowest non-negotiable number I could go to consider the position (the HR manager had suggested that they would be able to hit my minimum without any problems). Was I being naive? This position is in a higher cost of living city than the one i’m currently residing in. Is there any way of bringing the number back up without looking uninformed?

Your boyfriend is probably right, since many employers want to hire you for the lowest wage you’ll accept, and once they know what that is, that’s what they’ll offer. However, you can certainly try to negotiate, especially if you emphasize that you hadn’t factored in the difference in cost of living. (Which will be much more compelling than “that was just my minimum” — since your minimum is what they want.)

Note: Not all employers operate this way. Better ones realize that to attract and keep good employees, they need to pay competitively, not just the bare minimum.

5. Would it be appropriate to reach out to this former coworker?

I recently found a listing for a position with a company I really admire, and in reviewing the company’s website, I realized that a former coworker of mine now works there. We were at a large office together but didn’t work in the same department, and he was also higher up in the company than I was, so I don’t think he’ll remember me, although he would understand what my role was within the company. Another coworker of mine who was much closer to him gave me his personal contact information and said he thought he would be open to answering any questions I might have, but I’m still trying to decide if it is appropriate to contact him and politely ask how he feels about the company, if he knows anything about the position I’ve applied for (hiring schedule, does he think it would be comparable to my previous position, etc.), or if it would be better to just let the company’s online application process run its course (unfortunately I don’t have a lot of faith in online application systems, for all the same reasons you’ve discussed in previous blog posts).

I think I’m a strong candidate for the job, but I also know that in this job market, there will probably be quite a few strong candidates. It would be nice to have a connection to the company, but I don’t want to inadvertently violate networking etiquette by asking too much of someone I don’t really know.

Not a violation at all! Email him. Totally normal.

6. CEO’s comments in our interview confused me

I interviewed with a small nonprofit this morning, where I presented a project that I had done, as well as met with the CEO of the organization. I thought everything was going really well, but then the CEO divulged that they are working with three other people for the job and how great the other candidates are. He said, “If this isn’t the place for you, we are happy to help you find something else.” He continued on this way, then said, “We would be honored if you would join our team.” What?!

What does all this mean?! I felt good about everything, and I am still really interested but it seems that they aren’t sure how they feel about me.

It means that this is a normal hiring process where they are interviewing more than one candidate, and that yes, they’re absolutely not sure yet how they feel about you. They won’t be sure about that until they’ve finished all their interviews and had a chance to think everything over and talk to each other. This is nearly always the case, and you should always assume it. It doesn’t matter what other signals you think you might be getting; always, always assume this is the case, because it almost always is.

The only unusual thing here is his offer to help you find something else if this doesn’t work out. That’s quite unusual, and I don’t know if he was just being overly effusive or if he really meant it.

7. Interviewers want me to give a presentation

I have an interview next week that is a 2-day affair for a consulting company. Part of the interview is for me to give a 20 minute presentation on a subject matter that is directly correlated to the job but not something with which I’m terribly familiar. I’ve never given a formal presentation during an interview, and I just really don’t know what to expect or what they expect. PowerPoint or no? 15 minutes of talking with Q&A or dialogue style? Might there be a Q&A, or would it be just me talking and then a “thank you” from them? All of the presentations we did in school were pretty well spelled out by the professor, and all of the presentations I did at work were in such a familiar subject that I honestly didn’t give it that much thought.

Ask. It could be any of those things, and it’s completely fine to ask: “Do you generally like people to include PowerPoint for these?” or whatever. If they tell you it’s up to you, then do whatever you think will make for the strongest presentation. Personally, I’d do 15 minutes of talking with five minutes for Q&A, and I’d only use PowerPoint if it truly enhanced the talk. And I might be prepared with a few extra tidbits for those five minutes if no one had any questions. Good luck!

This entry was posted in HR, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.