A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: email@example.com. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
In This Issue (06/20/03):
- Thinking of the job interview as a sales call
- Attempting to correct a lie on a job application
- Closing the ‘sale’ in job interviews
- Recovering from a salary negotiation blunder
|Q:|| Nadine writes: Dear Career Doctor:
I have a problem. My resume is selling me to employers but when it comes to the time of the interview — I seem to be “shooting myself in the foot.’ I do research the company beforehand and after the interview I send the thank you card — but I never get the job offer. What I am doing wrong? Do you have any suggestions?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Without actually observing you in an interview situation I can’t say for certain but my sense is that you are having a problem during the job interview. If you are getting job interviews then your job-search strategy and resumes and cover letters seem to be working. And if you are following up your interviews with thank you notes then you are also doing that part correctly. That leaves the job interview itself (most likely) or that you are not doing enough follow-up after the interview.
If you make it to the interview you have passed the first test but there’s still a lot you need to do to show the employer you are the best candidate for the position. You have to go into the interview and sell your unique mix of skills accomplishments and education to the employer. You have to convince the employer you are better than all the other candidates. And you have to do all that with a positive and upbeat personality.
What’s wrong with your interviewing style? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps you are just having a dry spell. But I suggest you contact one of the people you recently interviewed with — whom you felt you had good rapport — and ask that person to critique your interview style so that you can learn and become better at interviewing. Most people when asked will give you an honest appraisal. And you need to know how to improve.
Remember that most employers say the most important elements of a job interview are: a firm handshake strong eye contact a confident attitude and a warm smile. You also need to be sure you dress properly — and of course have strong answers to all the interview questions. You should also have a few questions to ask of the employer.
Finally besides writing thank you notes — which work well to remind the employer who you are — it’s also important to regularly follow-up about once a week to continue to show your interest in the job — especially as hiring time continues to get longer and longer.
Two of our latest articles may help you with your interviewing technique:
|Q:||J. H. writes: I’ve been offered a job at a hospital pending criminal check. I had a conviction in 1992 and was done with parole at the end of 1995. I didn’t answer the ‘ever been convicted of a crime’ question on the job application. What should I do? Thank you in advance.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m really afraid you are out of luck for this job with this employer. You can certainly try and salvage your application but my sense is once the employer knows you misled them about one thing on your application — no matter what your reasons — that employer is not going to trust anything else on your application. But go ahead and contact the employer and say you need to amend your application.
Now not all employers conduct background checks – even for something such as a criminal record — but the trend since September 11 2001 is an increasing number of employers now conducting background checks — or at least saying they are conducting more background checks. So you need to be prepared to face the issue of the conviction and parole in future job interviews. Be sure to spin it in a positive way — how you paid your debt and learned from your mistakes.
Remember that your resume and the job application are seen by employers as statements of facts about your qualifications education and background. Any ‘stretching’ of the truth or omissions of key information is going to result in the very abrupt ending of your status as an applicant.
On the other hand do not offer negative information if the employer does not ask for it. While you do not ever want to lie you also do not need to destroy your chances before you’ve had a chance to sell the employer on your fit for the job.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I am very grateful for the material you have on interviewing techniques on your Website. However I am still not very clear on the recommended closing statements in an interview. I will be very happy if provide me some of the recommended closing statements in an interview.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Let me recap the interviewing strategy. At the end of a successful interview — where you feel you have sold the prospective employer on your talents and abilities — don’t just say thanks and walk out the door. Instead consider one of two options: ask about the next steps in the process and the employer’s timetable or for those a bit more aggressive ask for the job.
If you truly sense a fit between you and the organization then by all means at the end of the interview ask for the position. But please do so only if you really want the job — and only if you plan to accept if the employer does indeed make the offer.
So how do you making a closing statement in a job interview?
The safe route: ‘I really sense a strong fit between your needs and what I can deliver for you. I think there is a great fit between us and I am very interested in this position. Can you give me a rough idea of the next steps in this process along with your timetable for filling the position?’
The bolder move: ‘I really sense a strong fit between your needs and what I can deliver for you. I want this position and I truly feel I am your best candidate. I want to start contributing as soon as possible so when can I expect a job offer?’
Get lots more information about interviewing including our interview question database in the Interviewing Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
And for other strategies in closing the sale read one of our latest articles: The Job Interview as Sales Call: Three Essential Interview Skills
|Q:|| Wendy writes: I recently sent a resume/cover letter for a management position in a state I would like to re-locate to. Unfortunately I read your do’s and don’ts list after I had my initial phone interview. I had no idea what salary range they were offering and was afraid I might be looking for more than what they were offering (the cost of living is less there). I told them how much I make now and said I was willing to accept 25% less due to the difference in the cost of living (I made an error there too — I would the figure is actually 15% less).
There was no job offer made but I am flying there again this week for a second in-person interview. If they do offer me the job how can I negotiate after I’ve already given them this range of 25% less-present salary? I also did not take into consideration the fact that my husband doesn’t have a job there yet either so I really need to make at least what I am now or 10% more. I looked at salary ranges and I would be within reason in asking for this. Is there anyway to take my foot out of my mouth now? Is there any hope? Please advise.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You’ve definitely made a salary negotiation blunder but it’s not a lost cause — yet. Not only did you make a mistake in divulging salary information and not only did you make a mistake in your calculations but by doing what you did you also made it seem as though you are a bit desperate for the job — so you should be VERY pleased you are going for another interview.
Your key at this next interview if a job offer is extended is to make a strong case for a reasonable salary — given your experience level given the job itself given the cost of living etc. Do NOT bring your husband or any other person needs into the equation. In order to persuade an employer about salary you need to use legitimate business reasons for a higher salary — not personal reasons.
Best of luck.