WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THEY THINKING?
By Karen Debus, PHR
That’s what every applicant would benefit from knowing about the Human Resources Manager who is interviewing them. It doesn’t take long for an H.R. Manager to form an opinion. Statistics vary, but the general consensus is that it only takes a few minutes for an interviewer to form an opinion about a candidate and the rest of the time is spent justifying the decision. If you think that is being judgmental, you are absolutely right. Human Resources Managers receive hundreds of phone calls, applications, and resumes each week. They have to be able to assess someone’s knowledge, skills, and a multitude of additional characteristics very, very quickly. That’s what they do and some do it well, so make sure that you are on top of your game and don’t leave any room for error. Don’t give them the opportunity to put you on the “What Not To Do During An Interview” list because it’s more like an “I Can’t Believe He Just Said That” list.
It’s not just the interview that counts either. It’s the words you choose in the phone message you leave, your handwriting on the application you fill out, the clothes you wear, your speech, your smell, your attitude, what your references say about you and your follow-up. That’s just a general list. If you’re applying for a government position, the investigation about you can be intensified ten-fold.
So, you may be thinking, I know I’m supposed to act professionally and dress presentably, blah, blah, blah. But, are you aware of how much impact negative actions count against you? You are being compared to a larger pool of candidates and subsequently scrutinized more than ever. If you’re one step behind your competition, you’ve already lost. Here’s where it would help to have an H.R. friend – someone to give you the inside scoop about what an H.R. person is looking for in the candidate selection process. Here are some examples of what this H.R. Manager has experienced that made the hiring process more challenging:
If you want the competitive edge, the most important pieces of advice are to be prepared, be respectful, and never let your guard down. A good interviewer will make you feel relaxed, but don’t let yourself slip into friend mode. That person is not your friend yet; he or she is your potential employer. If you have any reservations about your interviewing abilities, get some advice from a hiring manager, talk to a job coach, or search the Internet for information on how to slam dunk getting a job. At a minimum, consider the following suggestions: They are the most easily forgotten and disregarded.
H.R. Managers want to make the best possible decisions they can because each hire is a reflection on them. If you know what they’re thinking, you will be able to act accordingly. Sometimes hiring is more about who you are and how you act than what you know technically. Don’t give them an opportunity to discount you.
Karen Debus is the Human Resources Manager for Valley View Farms, a large independent garden center/ nursery/Christmas shop in Baltimore, Maryland. Over her 22 year career in staffing and employment, she has interviewed thousands of candidates and reviewed even more resumes. Karen reviews and writes resumes as a part-time business as well. She attended Towson University and the College of Notre Dame and is certified as a Professional in Human Resources.