Stratford Office: 203-386-8800 | Stamford Office: 203-325-3799

The Best Way to Follow Up After an Interview

June 26th, 2020

Your interview is over. Whew! All that preparation and nervous tension are now behind you and it’s time to get ready for the next step. You may have fumbled a question or two and you may have hit it out of the park…but since you don’t have a clear answer just yet, you’ll want to take every step you can to make the most of what went right and overcome whatever went wrong. Don’t waste any time! Get to work as soon as you step out the door and drive away from the venue.

First, send a note.

A polite, small handwritten note can carry a lot of import after a job interview, and here’s why: because it’s sweet and personal. It lets the interviewer know that you’re a human being, you enjoyed making a connection with him or her, and you care about the job and the outcome of your session. Keep it small; a large card or flashy statement comes dangerously close to looking like a gift, which is not necessary and signals urgency instead of patience and class. (Gifts, by the way, are never a good idea. They can tank your chances and may even go against company policy, leading to your immediate removal from consideration.) Use your note to simply say thank you for the meeting and remind the recipient that you’re qualified for the role.

Second, sit tight.

After you send your note, don’t contact the interviewer or the company for at least two days. They will be interviewing other candidates during this time and it’s inappropriate to expect a decision before every candidate has been screened. After about three days, you can assume that the interview process may be ending soon, and you can plan your next move.

Send a short, professional message.

A short, concise, polite email offers and appropriate way to inquire about your status. If you decide to send a message like this to the hiring manager, don’t expect an immediate answer and never send more than one such message per week.

Call if you like, but recognize that you may be crossing a line.

Calling the office after your interview is not a crime, by any means. But it can be considered rude and intrusive, and some companies clearly ask candidates not to do this. If you call, keep your conversation short and take the opportunity to remind the employers that you’re still interested. Stay friendly, relaxed, and purposeful.

After your interview, focus your attention on the next task: lining up and preparing for your next interview. We can help. Contact the experts at Merritt for advice and guidance.

Landing an Interview When You’re Not the Perfect Fit for the Job

May 15th, 2020

You’ve read the job post carefully, and the hiring managers clearly want someone with your background and skills…or a close match, anyway. Or a not-so-close match. You have some of what they might be looking for, which is good news. But you also lack a few of the software skills specifically mentioned in the post, and you have three years of experience, not the “five plus” these employers require.

Here’s the truth: You can still get the job. And you can still learn what you need to know during your ramp-up period and thrive in the role over the long term. The biggest obstacle you face right now is landing an interview so you can make your case to these managers in person. Here are a few moves you can use.

Emphasize what you DO have in your resume and cover letter.

If the post mentions any detail, preference or requirement that you do have, mention it clearly in both of your application documents. And use the exact words and terms the employers use, since they may be filtering resumes using keyword searches. (“Experience with CNC” and “CNC coding background” are not the same.) Use every tool at your disposal, including your resume language, to make it past filters and algorithms.

Make contact.

Some job posts specifically say “No calls please” or “Do not call the office”. In this case, take the hint and don’t call. But if you don’t see this clear request, call. Why not? You have nothing to lose. If you can speak to someone in person and grab a few rays of attention, that may be all you need to move to the top of the interview shortlist. Be reasonable, of course. Don’t keep calling over and over.

Scour your social media to see if you have an inside connection.

Do you know someone who might know someone at this company? Check your Linkedin profile and Facebook feed to find out. Send a message to your potential contact and ask for advice.

Show off.

You may not be able to check every box in the job post, but you have plenty of other qualities that can help you stand out. Highlight them and don’t let them go unnoticed. Even if you think they can’t help you, they might.

For more on how to grab the spotlight and land an interview—even you doubt some of your qualifications—reach out to the job search experts at Merritt.

Go to the Interview Even When You’re Not Looking

February 28th, 2020

You’ve been summoned for an interview by an employer—or maybe a recruiter—who seems interested in your background and skills. Accepting the invitation will require a bit of an investment on your part; you’ll need to set aside at least an hour of your time, and you may need to dry clean your interview outfit, take some time away from your current job, arrange pet or childcare, or simply do some research and planning if the interview will happen via phone or video. So before you respond, you’ll need to ask yourself: Is it worth it? If you already have a satisfactory job and you aren’t actively looking for new work, should you take a closer look at this new opportunity?

Nobody can see into the future, but in most cases, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

You’ll learn something.

Attending the interview can help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s available to you in your industry and your geographic area. You’ll learn more about the job landscape around you, and you’ll also learn more—and gain a new contact—within a specific company near you. Even if you never speak to the employer directly and you only talk to a recruiter, you’ll find out more about what these employers need and what they’re trying to accomplish.

You may change your mind.

Every negotiation starts when two people sit down at a table. Even if you think you aren’t interested in switching jobs right now, give the interviewer a chance to convince you. This new opportunity may put you on a faster track to your goals. Or maybe the job offers a shorter commute or more flexible hours. Maybe you’ve been dealing with some minor headache or pain point in your current role and this new job can make that issue disappear. And of course, the new job may pay more. In order to find out, you’ll have to lend your ear.

If this job doesn’t suit you, another one might.

If you engage in an open and honest conversation with your interviewer, you may discover that this job isn’t a perfect fit for you, and the interview won’t lead to a hiring agreement. But she may have something else to offer you or someone else in her web of contacts who can present you with a closer match.

Interview practice makes perfect.

Time spent interviewing is never time wasted, despite the minor hoops you may jump through to make it happen. Hearing yourself as you highlight your skills and tell your professional story can help you work out the kinks and make your story tighter, stronger, and more convincing. When the next opportunity comes along, you’ll be that much better prepared. For more help with your job search and interview skills, contact the experts at Merritt Staffing.

How to Answer When You’re Asked About Your Desired Salary

August 16th, 2019

As your interviewer sits across the table from you, she’ll have plenty of goals that will frame the meeting. She’ll want to find out if you can handle the job. She’ll want to assess how you’ll get along with your team. She’ll want to know if you have the personality to enjoy this job’s unique challenges. Some of these things are not up to you; you have no way of knowing if you’ll click with your new team, and you can’t really assess your readiness for the role if you can’t see behind the scenes. But your interviewer will also want to assess something only YOU can possibly know: How much would you like to be paid?

In other words: What is the lowest possible amount the company can give you without going so low that you reject their job offer?

How can you answer without a) underselling your skills and accepting a rate that’s less than your time is worth, or b) asking for so much that the offer isn’t made? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t be the first to state a number.

No matter how direct, firm, or polite the request, don’t provide a number when your interviewer asks you how much you want. Simply smile and say, “I’d rather not share a number first.” There’s no need to play games (such as changing the subject to avoid answering); just say you aren’t ready to share a number and stick to your guns if pressed.

Never share your previous salary.

Your previous salary is a private and personal data point that should never be shared with a potential employer, ever. Even if you’re a government worker and your past salary is publicly posted, don’t share it. Let the company look it up on their own. Why keep this info private? Because once your interviewers have it, they can make you the lowest offer you’re probably able to accept. If you want an offer that’s twice or ten times your past salary, you can get that. But it will be harder if your interviewer can peer into your history.

Recognize that this is a negotiation, even if the company says it isn’t.

This is a negotiation and the number is NOT firm until you both agree to accept it. The offer may be presented as non-negotiable, but here’s a secret: every offer is negotiable. Before you dive in and try to bump the number up, remember that negotiations come with specific rules. Know the rules and respect them. (For example, don’t suggest a higher figure and then continue to raise it after the company agrees). If you’ve never negotiated before, get some coaching before you step in.

For more on how to receive an offer that matches your skills and experience, talk to the job search pros at Merritt.

Why Connections Are Increasingly Important to Your Job Search

July 19th, 2019

To find a great job, you’ll need all the classic job-search tools in your kit: a strong resume, a cover letter, an online profile that’s easy to find (on LinkedIn or your personal website), and at least three people who have enthusiastically agreed to serve as references if they’re called by your prospective employers. But you’ll also need something else, something that’s increasingly important in our digital age: personal connections.

Here are three reasons why you should develop your connections so you can leverage them when the time comes to move your career forward.

Connections indicate you’re part of a community.

If you’re connected to your potential employer’s social circle, professional circle, geographic area or past, then you’re a known quantity (even if the person doesn’t actually know you). This implies that you’re reliable, safe and have a strong personal motivation to work hard, do your best, and maintain your existing reputation as a good person. If you’ve appeared out of nowhere and have no context or community that can vouch for you, you bring a larger set of unknowns.

People like to help their friends.

To be clear, the “friend” in this scenario isn’t you; it’s the person standing between you and your employer. She’s calling in or returning a favor to someone else, and the bond between her and that person stand to be strengthened by your decision to ask for help or an introduction. The fact that you exist and need something (or can offer something) can bring two other people closer. Use this to your advantage!

If you have a connection, more info on you may be available.

A resume can only offer so much information about you. But a person making a personal introduction can offer far more. They can provide insight into your specific experiences, your competencies and your personality in ways no profile every really can.

Connections lead to more connections.

When we expand our web of connections, we help ourselves and widen our career opportunities, one strand at a time. This doesn’t just apply to you; it also applies to the boss who might hire you based on your shared personal contacts. A wise boss will apply this logic to their hiring decision and choose the candidate that can best help the person and the company advance.

For more on how to build up your network and make the best possible use of the connections you already have, turn to the career management team at Merritt!

Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

March 22nd, 2019

When your would-be employer is finished asking you a list of questions about your background, your career goals and your preparation for the company’s open position, it’s time to turn the tables. Never leave an interview session without obtaining some important information of your own; information you’ll need in order to make a smart, informed decision about this job and how it might support your career and add to your life.

Your employer can’t read your mind, and they won’t know exactly what to tell you about the company and the job unless you ask. So, make sure you include these questions in your conversation (plus any others you decide to add).

Where can I go from here?

What will this job do for your career? Ask your employer to describe the next rung of the ladder and explain where you’ll go when you outgrow this job and it’s time for a promotion. Are there management roles above you that you can step into? Or will you need to seek work elsewhere as soon as you’re ready for the next chapter?

Will this job provide the specific training and exposure that you need?

What kinds of training and experience will you need to become one, two, and ten degrees better at what you do? Can this company provide that training and experience? Maybe this employer offers or supports opportunities outside the company. Ask about tuition reimbursement for coursework at local colleges, and ask about extracurricular training and support, sabbatical programs, conference attendance and other forms of personal development.

Will you be able to do the kind of work you want to do?

Some companies offer a kind of bait-and-switch, a system in which you step onboard but don’t actually DO the work you want to do until you’ve stayed for several years and reached various assigned milestones. If this may be one of those companies, establish a clear timeline. If you can’t do your chosen work right away, when will it happen?

Can they give you the benefits you need?

Now isn’t the best time to ask about salary (save that until you’re closer to receiving an offer). But it’s a great time to clearly ask about the benefits you’ll need the most. Does the company offer on-site childcare? Commuter compensation? A strong healthcare plan? If you need something specific and the company can’t offer it, find out sooner rather than later.

What makes this place special?

You can work anywhere. So why should you choose to work here? Frame your question diplomatically but get the answer you need. If competing companies in the same industry are equally likely to hire you, what makes this company stand out? Is it the culture? The low turnover? The prestige? Factor the answer into your decision.

For more on how to get the most out of your interview, contact the job search team at Merritt.

 

How to Sell Yourself During a Phone Interview

November 23rd, 2018

When your employers contact you by phone for an initial screening or a formal interview, you’ll want to be ready. Phone interviews and in-person interviews are very different, and while in some ways the phone may be an easier tool for candidates, it also precludes some helpful forms of non-verbal communication like body language and facial expressions. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get ready to wow an employer with your voice alone.

Smiling and nice clothes still have an impact.

Your employer can’t see your face, but certain expressions show through in our voices, and a smile is one of them. When you’re smiling, your listeners can hear it. So, as you say hello and greet the person, make sure you’re wearing an appropriate expression—even if there’s no one in the room with you. As for professional clothing, what you wear can subtly influence your presentation and sense of self. There’s no need to dress to the nines but keep this unconscious connection in mind as you prepare for your call.

Avoid friendly interruptions.

A few well-intended interruptions may be fine and may even come off as a sign of high enthusiasm. But don’t let them become a pattern. In real life, your interruption says, “I’m excited by what you’re saying, and I don’t need to hear all of it before I chime in”, but over the phone, this isn’t clear. Let your employer finish speaking and then pause for a full second before you respond.

Complete every sentence and laugh audibly.

Don’t say anything—a statement, a joke, an assertion, or an agreeable remark—unless you are prepared to turn your words into a complete sentence or thought. Don’t stop short or trail off. Trail-offs have a place in face-to-face conversation, but with a stranger over the phone, they can be confusing. As for laughter, when your interviewer makes a lighthearted remark, turn your quiet smile or shy chuckle into an audible laugh, or a “ha ha”. Otherwise it’s just a weird silence.

Let your interviewer drive.

Let the conversation go wherever your interviewer wants to take it and let them control the pace. When two people vie for the driver’s seat in a face-to-face dialogue, the result can be engaging, sparkling and often meaningful and memorable. But over the phone, signals can easily get crossed and confused. One driver is enough. If you’d like to redirect, do so clearly and assertively.

Turn up your wattage.

Are you interested in the job? Are you excited to share your relevant experience and qualifications? Do you have questions about the role? Great! Take this energy and play to the back row. Dial everything up by one notch so it’s easier for your listener to pick up on your vibe.

For more on how to ace your interview—on the phone or in person—turn to the career management experts at Merritt.

What You Need to Know About Every Candidate

July 13th, 2018

As you launch into the initial screening and selection stages of the staffing process, there are a few things about each candidate you absolutely don’t need to know. These include your candidate’s ethnicity, religion, family status and sexual orientation, which may not be visible on the surface. They also include race, age, disability status or appearance (which may become apparent when you meet). These aspects of the candidate’s life should remain unknown as long as possible, if not forever.

But there are a few things you WILL need to know, and you’re better off obtaining this information as quickly as possible during the process. Save money, time and hassle for both the candidate and yourself by moving quickly toward these key data points.

Where the candidate lives.

More accurately, will the candidate be commuting a daily? And where will the candidate need to relocate from to accept the job? Will you be flying candidates in for interviews? Will you be covering relocation costs? Are you willing to accept a candidate who faces a miserable commute and may leave as soon as a closer opportunity becomes available? Answer these questions before you move forward.

What the candidate wants to do now and three years from now.

Two points of alignment may spell success or failure: what the candidate wants to do in the present, and what they want to do in the future. If they aren’t interested in or not qualified (just yet) to take on the daily tasks of the role, that’s important. If they’re fine with the daily tasks but want to advance within a year and won’t be able to do so if they take this job, that’s also worth noting. Get a sense of their long- and short-term mission.

Uncover any legal issues impeding the process.

Does the candidate have the appropriate visas or working papers to take the job? In this case, age may play a meaningful role, since you need to know they are old enough to enter the workplace.

Is this the right industry?

Almost every industry offers professional jobs in interdisciplinary fields (like marketing, sales, IT, PR, product development, product testing, etc.). A marketing or administrative candidate can easily move throughout their career from one major industry sector to another. But the question is: Do they want to? Are they interested in applying their marketing skills to this sector? Will this further their career or hold him back?

Can the candidate get over the highest hurdle?

This job may have one major issue that makes the position hard to staff (for example, a remote location, long hours or one odd problem that frequently sends candidates out the door). Determine the candidate’s feelings about this before you get into fine-grain details.

For more on how to move efficiently through the search process, contact the staffing team at Merritt.

Job Search Mistakes Made by Experienced Professionals

August 19th, 2016

You’ve skimmed through hundreds of articles that warn job seekers away from “common mistakes”, and when you see these headlines, you tend to tune out. After all, you’re an experienced professional, not an entry-level candidate in your 20s. You know better than to show up late for your interview, and you obviously have no plans to lie your potential employers, swear at the receptionist, or submit a resume filled with typos. But just because you’re an experienced employee doesn’t mean you’re immune to mistakes. At your level, common errors aren’t so easy to spot, but they can still prevent you from landing your target position. Watch out for subtle blunders like these.

Too much (of anything)

During entry level interviews, employers are most concerned with basic competence. But at your level, employers are often much more concerned about over-competence. Overqualified candidates require (and deserve) higher salaries than some employers want to pay. They also ask for more, expect more, are harder to mold and shape, and tend to demonstrate lower levels of obedience, eagerness, and loyalty. All of these things are difficult for some employers to take. So at this stage, frame yourself as a fit for the job. Don’t worry about coming off as an all-around superstar.

Desperation

At the entry level, most candidates are on the market for one reason: they want to launch brilliant careers. They just graduated and they’re eager to start the next chapter. But at the mid-level, the reasons behind the job search vary widely. Employers want to know why you’re here. Were you fired? Why? Do you dislike your current job? Why? Have you been searching for a long time? Why? In other words… What’s wrong with you? So make one thing clear: There’s nothing wrong with you. You can do anything you choose, and you choose to do this. Don’t let desperation, limited options, or urgency play a role in your search.

Anger or maladjustment

At the mid-career level, some of the biggest hiring mistakes take place when employers miss or overlook red flags related to attitude and people skills. Employers know this, and they know that people skills are very easy to misread. So they have a sharp eye out for any signs of irritability, poor listening skills, social maladjustment, or anger. Recognize that no matter how impressive your resume, a glimmer of an attitude problem can push you right out of the running.

Entitlement and corner cutting

Mid-level employers are also on the lookout for candidates who have coasted (for one reason or another) through the early stages of their careers. If you’ve lucked your way up the ladder so far, prepare for an extra level of scrutiny as you enter the next chapter. On the other hand, if you’ve had an opportunity to face real challenges, experience real failure, or demonstrate real leadership, sharing these stories can help you separate yourself from the crowd.

For more on how to ace your mid-level job search, turn to the career development experts at Merritt.

Forming a Connection with Your Interviewer

July 24th, 2015

Your interview is scheduled for later this week, and you know you have what it takes to step into this job and excel. You have all the skills you need and years of experience with this specific type of work, so your credentials aren’t really subject to doubt. But what about everything else? You already know that landing a job and thriving in your new role will depend on your relationships even more than your job-specific skills. So what if you and this interviewer just don’t seem to click? What if she doesn’t get you? What if you don’t get her? What if the two of you just can’t find an inch of common ground?

Don’t worry. If you keep an open mind and take these considerations to heart, you’ll increase your chances of making a positive and lasting impression.

Be receptive and flexible.

Despite what some advisors may tell you, you really don’t land jobs (or make friends) by striding in the door with your chest puffed, as if you’re going into battle. Your interviewer is not your enemy or you adversary, and this is not the time to channel your inner warrior. Despite what you might like to believe, you don’t know everything about this industry, and every encounter should be seen as an opportunity to learn something — or meet someone — new. During the entire session, try to listen more than you speak, and remember the things you hear.

Observe and dial in.

If your interviewer is like most, they will tell you exactly how to win them over and land the job…but they probably won’t deliver this message with words. If they frown over a certain questionable detail of your resume, that means you’ll need to determine what their concerns are and address them. If they ask you how you feel about extensive travel or public speaking, that means these things will be central to this job. If you excel in these areas, say so. If not, say so. Be honest. Give — and receive — all of the available information that can lead both of you to an informed decision. Help them to help you.

Ask questions.

Ask as many questions as you answer regarding this job and this company. Ask your interviewer about their own experience here. People like to explain their stories and share their opinions, and they usually appreciate signs of engagement, curiosity, and interest.

Show evidence of research and preparation.

Tighten your elevator pitch and conduct thorough research on the company before you walk in the door. Have a printed copy of your resume in hand and demonstrate that you respect your interviewer and the significance of this opportunity. Make it clear that you appreciate the opportunity to form a partnership, regardless of the outcome of this meeting.

For more on how to connect with your interviewer and earn their support, contact the staffing and employment team at Merritt.

© Year Merritt Staffing. Site Credits.