wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. How many interviews should it take to find a job?

How many interviews do people have, on average, before being given an offer? I just graduated, and am looking for my first full-time job. I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite a few interviews at many companies (some even progressing to the 2nd and 3rd round), but have never been offered a full-time position. I know you say it’s a numbers game (and it’s different for everyone), but when does it become an indication that there may be another problem with why I am not getting hired?

Additional info: I’ve been told that my resume is great, and that I interview well enough – so now I’m just worried that maybe my personality is holding me back (I’m extremely introverted).

I don’t think there’s a real answer to the question of how many interviews without an offer indicates there’s a problem. There are too many possible explanations — yes, it could be your interviewing skills, but it could also be the economy, a competitive field, etc. The fact that you’re getting second and third round interviews indicates that you’re not bombing them, or you wouldn’t be getting past the first.

However, because you’re worried about it, I’d suggest role-playing some interviews with the most blunt person you know. Ideally this would be someone who has some experience interviewing people, but if you don’t have any obvious choice in your circle, ask your bluntest friend, and make it clear you want a real critique. You could also try asking for feedback from any interviewers who you felt a particular rapport with. (Here’s advice on how to do that, and here too, although also be aware that — like I discussed earlier today — not all employers will do this … but some will.)

2. How long should an offer take?

Two weeks ago, I received a call from an HR rep who indicated that they were trying to put together an offer for me. I responded that this was good news and asked when that might happen. She said it took a while due to the many approval levels, equity analysis, etc.

Should I be concerned that I have not yet received an offer? I would hate to think an HR professional would initiate that call and not be truthful, especially if something changed. What’s your take?

Well, never count an offer until you see it in front of you, because things do change. However, you can absolutely follow up with her and ask her to give you a sense of the likely timeline for moving forward. And if you’re nearing the end stages of interviewing with other companies, you can mention that as well.

3. Calling to follow up on a job application

I just graduated from school and I am getting back into the job market. I been telling employers in cover letters that I will call them back within the week. But then I ran across your blog and it said contacting by phone will annoy your potential employer. I want to seem enthusiastic about working for them, because I really am, but not to the point that it turns them off to my application. Should I not contact them or just send e-mail instead as a follow-up within the week?

Also an employer sent an email, that was automatic, that said that they would contact me if they need more information for current and future jobs. Should I follow up with them within the week or just follow up later or not at all? It seemed like they where discouraging a follow-up.

Unless you’re in sales, don’t say in your cover letter that you’ll call them in a week (or whatever) to follow up. They have your application; they know you’re interested.

Interrupting someone with an unnecessary phone call is annoying and even arguably rude. Email is much more courteous, because it allows the person to respond when it’s convenient, rather than having to stop whatever they’re doing to take a call. And remember, you’re not the only one applying; you’ve got to multiply your phone call by the 200+ applicants they likely have for the job.

But even email follow-ups tend to be unnecessary and not especially useful. They know you’re interested; they’ll contact you if they want to talk further.

4. Applying to internships and regular jobs at the same company

I’m a recent grad with some work (and a lot of internship) experience, and have been having trouble finding a job. I’ve been applying mostly for full-time, entry-level positions, but some companies also offer internships that are similar to the entry-level jobs (similar work, same dept., etc.). Is it a good idea to apply for both positions at the same time? I’ve noticed that the few times I have, I hear back from the company right away about the internship position and never hear anything about the full-time job. I’m worried that when they see that I applied for the internship, they see that I’m willing to work for little to no money, and would rather offer me an internship than consider me for a salaried position.

They want to hire the best person for the salaried position. If that’s you, they’re not going to funnel you into the internship position instead. (Although if you’re borderline, they might want to try you as an intern first before committing to the full-time job.) However, you might be signaling a lack of confidence or a lack of direction by applying to both types of jobs at the same company — you might try just doing one or the other per employer.

5. When references are slow to respond

I’ve been asked by a recruiting company for my references. I provided three professional references; one is a professor from graduate school, and the other two are advisors from my internship. My professor did not fill out the survey attached to the email sent by the recruiting company but sent a response back anyway, and my other two references never got the email in the first place. A week later, I got a call from the recruiting company asking if I knew what happened, as this is a time-sensitive manner (the position I am being considered for starts next week). I got in touch with all my references and have been assured that everything will be sent out tomorrow. I called the recruiting company back apologizing for the inconvenience and let them know that I got in touch with everyone and they should be receiving everything.

How badly does this reflect on me? I would give up both my legs for this position and I don’t want something like issues with my references to jeopardize me getting this job. I feel like I’ve done the right thing and apologized (as I truly am mortified that this happened) and now I’m just crossing my fingers. Thoughts?

It sounds like you handled it correctly. I’d follow up with your recruiter this week to make sure that they’ve received everything (both to make sure they did and also to signal that you’re on top of it). It shouldn’t reflect on you as long as everything does show up.

6. Tactfully saying that you know the previous person in a job sucked

At my previous company, I worked in a group with an individual who was really a terrible employee in every sense. She was grossly unprofessional with colleagues (calling her reps “sexy pants,” etc.), had no sense of accountability, she lied constantly about herself, and about other colleagues, took advantage of sick time, and gossiped incessantly. In short, she was a nightmare. I left that organization for another opportunity, and she left shortly after to work for another local company.

Fast forward to present, and she has recently been fired from that employer (for what, I’m not entirely sure) and they are currently accepting applications to replace her. I am really interested in this position, and believe I have the necessary skills and experience to really add value to the division. I sent my resume to the recruiter two weeks ago. However, I have yet to hear anything back and I am concerned that they may be hesitant to hire anyone who had worked with this person for fear that they might end up with someone with similar traits. Is there a tactful way to follow up with the recruiter in a manner that says, “I understand if you want to distance your organization from anyone who might be even remotely similar to X, but I have what it takes to do this job and be an asset to the company. Is there any way that I can assure you that I am a very different type of employee?”

I don’t think there’s any way to say that without sounding like you’re trash-talking someone to a stranger (which is rarely appropriate), but I do think you could say that you were always very interested in the work of that position when you were employed there and would love the opportunity to show what you could do in the role (or something like that). But I also wouldn’t worry about the fact that you worked with her; presumably the employer knows your work ethic and work habits and knows that they’re different from hers.

7. Forwarding praise to your manager

One of the people I work for, not my supervisor, emailed me a glowing compliment on how I’m doing my job. I’ve been at this position for almost 3 months. Is it bragging (or otherwise annoying) if I forward that to my supervisor? I have worked in this department for 7 years, but this supervisor I’ve only worked for 3 months as well.

Not bragging or annoying. Normal and appreciated. Forward it to your manager with a note like “This was nice to see” or “Wanted to share this with you.”

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