CANDIDATES & COMMUNICATION – can we hear you clearly?

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How many ‘tabs’ are open on your desktop right now as you read this? How many unread emails are in your inbox that are waiting for you? Do you have any voicemails or messages that you need to listen to on your mobile phone or desk phone? When does the post arrive again at your desk?

I am not going to repeat the MANY articles out there with helpful tips on managing your communication channels (you can open up another tab and Google search on that, leading to probably one or more other tabs afterwards!), rather I am going to speak to the candidates out there who may hopefully read this and may even find something useful from my article.

Yes, it can be overwhelming when you think about looking for a role, never mind applying for one – ‘how easy is it to apply’, ‘who do I speak to if I have a question’, ‘where can I research on the company in case I get an interview’ etc. etc. As much as we say that it easy to find out the information you are after, you are then bombarded with the choices of channels to go down – do I call, do I email the general email address, do I seek out the individuals on LinkedIn, do I ‘tweet’ someone I find in the company I am applying to, do I write a letter etc.

As much as it is sensible to plan your roles that you want to apply for and plan your CV and covering letter, it is also very sensible to plan how you are going to stay in regular contact with the company or companies you are applying to – this is as much for your frame of mind as it will be for those considering your application. After all, you do not want to come across as a pest, chasing everyone on all available media, but equally you don’t want to go silent after you apply, because you want to appear keen for their consideration.

The sensible course of action would be to apply and then follow up with a question about timescales if none is forthcoming to you straight away. Then you can plan your regular communications with that company accordingly. It is this careful and considered strategy that will set you apart from the (sometimes) manic calls/emails/tweets that company recruitment or HR teams can sometimes receive, from candidates who appear ‘unorganised’ and in the case of someone I recently spoke to, have forgotten that they spoke with the company that same morning already.

If the company you have applied to is clear with you on the timescales you can expect to hear anything back, then you the candidate, can be clear on when you need to follow up with your chosen communication with your chosen communicating channel.

  • If you apply, make sure you find out the timescales of your application process
  • No matter how short or long this may take, plan your communications with the company accordingly
  • Do your research into the Company – if you get an automated reply, that is fine, but maybe find out behind the scenes who the hiring manager or HR or Recruitment team may be in that company in case you do need to personalise a communication
  • Don’t become a ‘pest’ – choose the right channel and choose the right times to communicate

First Impressions Count

I had tried to think of an interesting subtitle to this blog, but actually, I think the title says it all. First impressions count in any interview situation (and, by the way, this is as much for hiring managers as well as applicants, but this blog will focus on the latter).

All too often, you will hear horror stories from managers and us in HR/Recruitment, of candidates who clearly have not made the right first impression – you can read about these in other blogs and articles I am sure – so, I want to focus on some useful tips for candidates to remember in their preparation for interview/video interview.

First point though – human beings make snap decisions – deal with it – the best you can do is prepare, prepare and prepare.

Here are my tips (you can agree/disagree as you like!) for creating the right first impression:
 PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE

 Prepare for the role – know the role specification, match your skills, have examples

 Prepare for the interview – know the panel, practice answers*, have some questions

 Prepare on the Company – know the industry, the competition, the challenges**

 Practice the route to the interview beforehand if you can, or print the route off

 Arrive on time, with a little to spare to make sure you are calm and fresh

 Make sure your mobile is charged and you have all the contact numbers you need

 Make sure attire is suitable and smart (know the dress code expected beforehand – if unsure ask what it is!)

 Make sure shoes are clean – only a little thing, but in my view, says a lot

 Good tip – take a small can of deodorant if you can and use a little, about 20 mins before – you will feel better, (don’t use as you arrive as you’ll overpower the panel!)

 Take some mints with you – like the shoes tip, fresh breath does count!***

 Take any notes with you, have your questions scripted – use a small notebook, it comes across as prepared and professional

 Not too firm a handshake when meeting the panel and not too long

 Maintain eye contact, but don’t freak them out by staring too long!

 Keep to your pace (that you have practiced) and don’t be afraid to ask if they can repeat the question

 Smile and enjoy it – REMEMBER – it is your choice to be there, so make the most of it, take it seriously, but enjoy it!

 Did I mention, PREPARE!

*I use a friend for this – you can research Competency Based questions or something similar in a search engine, and pick 10 or so that you think are relevant to the role – just practice some answers and it will give you so much confidence. The questions may not come up in the actual interview, but your answers might still be relevant.

**You are obviously not going to be 100% expert in the company if you are applying from outside the business, but try to make sure you have something like a simple SWOT analysis done beforehand, maybe print off the organisation charts if you can. And if you are applying through an agency – make sure you are getting the briefing you need beforehand.

***though, don’t chew as you meet the panel!