Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interviewers - 4 Factors Make Up the Hiring Decision

"I can't believe they didn't hire me!  I was perfect for the job!  "

It happens all the time . . . . 
     You apply for a position for which you meet every requirement.  
          You even get an interview, maybe several, and then . . . 
               The lines of communication go dead.  
                     No one calls and . . . . . . . . . . No one offers you the position.

What happened? Why didn't the hiring firm offer the position to the candidate who was perfect -- or, at least thought he or she was?  There are a multitude of things that can affect a hiring decision.  But the short answer to the question is that you didn't tick all the boxes of the 4 factors that comprise a hiring decision.

It becomes less of a mystery when you have a little background in how companies make hiring decisions.  While the fact that you meet all the requirements seems enough, in fact, it is only 1 of 4 factors in the hiring decision.  Competency is important, no doubt about it, but establishing competency just gets you in the game.  The others will then make or break your candidacy.

4 FACTORS make up the Hiring Decision
What are companies looking for? If searching for a job is a sales process - and IT IS - learn to think like a salesperson.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customer - the employer and your prospective boss:    What would you want to know about a product or service before buying it?  What would they want to know about you before buying your services?

FACTOR 1. Do you know your stuff? = Competence
Interviewers want to know:  Can you do the job?

This is the critical first question.  If the answer is Yes, you get to "Pass Go" and continue toward your goal of getting an offer.  If you fail to impress the hiring firm that you can do the job, initially, by the representation of your experience on your resume, and, secondarily, by your answers in the initial phone screen, the game with this employer is over.

Employers seek to establish competence early in the process.  There really isn't any point in continuing the expensive and time-consuming task of interviewing you if it judged that you don't have the experience, skills, and/or education to perform the duties of the job.
  • Tip:  Study the job requirements as advertised by the employer.  Make up a table and list the requirements on one side and examples of you meeting / performing the requirements on the other.  Keep this tool in front of you as you customize your resume as well as answer questions during the phone screen.  You’ll tick Box 1 if you do!
FACTOR 2. Can they afford you? = Compensation
There’s not much point to talking in any depth if they can’t afford you.  That’s why interviewers ask the question right up front.
  1. Come in too high and it’s a short run.  It's simple:  They can't, or choose not, to afford you. 
  2. Come in too low, and it's also a short run.  While you may think :  "Wow- I'd be a bargain if my salary requirement is lower than you expected to pay,"  think again.  Companies hire compensation experts who know what the market pays for certain types and levels of experience.  Coming in too far under the going rate may translate into a suspicion that you are too inexperienced in the duties and responsibilities of the job and therefore not able to handle it.
  • Tip 1:  Try to hold off the "$alary discussion" as long as you can.  If the company gets to know more about you and likes what it hears, it may be more willing to accommodate your price down the road.  Try saying something like you are really interested in this opportunity and what is most important to you right now is learning more.
  • Tip 2:  If Tip 1 doesn't work, try asking the interviewer what the salary range for the position is.  If they reveal the range, and you are within the range say so!
  • Tip 3: If Tip 2 doesn't work, try stating a salary range - make it plausible but broad to give yourself room for negotiation down the road.

FACTOR 3. How do you handle things? = Culture
This factor concerns the hiring firm's "Company Culture," commonly referred to as organizational culture.  It goes into work ethic and style, and explores if you are compatible with the firm's way of getting things done.

Interviewers want to know:  Can you do the job HERE?  They will seek to find out the answers to questions such as:
  -  Are you compatible with their process for getting work done, the firm's management style, their problem solving approach, and the firm's way of recognizing achievement as well as correcting problems?
  -  How do you handle situations when things are going well?  When they're not?
  -  How do you handle crises or problems?
  -  How do you interact with people? 
  • Tip:  Do your homework.  Learn about the company culture via:  
  1. Visiting the company website to see how they talk about and view themselves, 
  2. Researching the firm through the Internet and reading articles and comments, and,   
  3. Very importantly,  researching the firm by contacting people in your network who know about the firm and can share actual knowledge and experience.  An insider's account is worth its weight in gold!
FACTOR 4.  What is your Attitude and Outlook = Chemistry
An HR Employment Manager colleague of mine once said:  "The last thing I need is to hire another problem; I’ve got enough of them walking around here already."

It's a quote I never forgot.  Remember that Human Resources is the department charged with solving problems presented by employees that just don't work out.  So HR reps, working in conjunction with the hiring managers, will want to know:  Can you do the job WITH US?

Think of it this way:  If a major work project is due, and it is going to involve some late evenings and weekends, is the fit good enough that they can envision working in this manner with you.
  • Tip:  They are looking to see if your attitude is positive and "can do."  For instance, are you easy to work with, calm and in control in a crisis, and able to solve problems without making a big deal out of it.  The demanding world of work today is hard enough.  High maintenance employees make getting the job done harder.
The BIG Take Away
Hiring firms use the 4 FACTORS to assess if you will be a good fit and productive employee for their firm.  Remember, interviewing is a two-way street, and any hiring involves an expensive risk on the parts of both the company and the candidate.

Just as companies are using the 4 FACTORS to determine if hiring you is a risk worth taking, you can use your knowledge of the 4 FACTORS to do the same.  Gauge hiring companies as they do to determine if the firm is a good fit for you and if accepting their offer of employment is a risk worth taking.

There are many firms to choose from.  No one employee is right for every firm and no one company is right for every employee.  Use the 4 Factors to help you as a candidate identify and join a firm that right for you.

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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