In part 1, I cautioned against paying attention to everyone who calls themselves a career coach. I expanded on a LinkedIn answer to a question about following up, given by a coach who didn’t answer the question thoroughly.
Placing a follow-up call and asking if you’re still under consideration not only fails to demonstrate self-confidence, but the answer – a mere yes or no – fails to provide you with the full picture. Your objective is also to learn the company’s interviewing process, how they’ve structured it, and where you are within that process.
In the example about Patty, if there wasn’t a good rapport, or if the hiring authority is strictly by the book, she might get very little information or a directive to ask HR, neither of which has any bearing on her standing.
Although it’s an employers market, an essential component of hiring hasn’t changed: when they know, they know, which means if it’s not a yes, it’s usually a no. Companies like to keep people in the wings “just in case.”
Patty, in her initial conversation with HR, learned she was still in the running, but that doesn’t reveal what her standing is. Questions about how a company is moving through the process allows for reading between the lines. The answers, and the manner in which they’re related, give her the information she’s seeking, even if she’s told she’s “still under consideration.”
Knowing the specifics is especially important if you’re interviewing with other companies simultaneously. Rarely are the hiring processes at the same stage at the same time. Knowing where you stand gives you the control to choose both your direction and your actions.
The coach did give Patty one wise piece of advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Too many job seekers live on a hope and a prayer. If you don’t have an offer and a start date, keep your pipeline full. And an interview isn’t an offer, it’s an interview. Making it to the second interview doesn’t ensure you’re going to get the job, no matter how much you believe they like you.
As a recruiter who often had an exclusive with the client company, every candidate the client interviewed came through me. Priveleged to inside information, I was the one who shared feedback that shattered a candidate’s confidence of being hired or invited for a return interview.
As a career coach, job seekers filled with optimism tell me how they’ve stopped all activity on their search because they believe an offer to be “right around the corner.” Even though I no longer speak with the hiring authority, I can frequently tell, simply by what the job seeker tells me, if there’s a disparity between what’s going on and what the job seeker thinks is going on.
Although I counsel them as to why stopping their search is not a wise course of action, the path of least resistance usually trumps common sense. Because finding a job is such an arduous, distasteful task, it’s easy for people to believe an offer is imminent, thus justifying the reason to halt their search. Unfortunately, getting burned and losing weeks that could otherwise have been productive is a lesson many learn the hard way.
Throughout the process you need to know where you are relative to their plans. As you exit the interview, with a smile on your face and in a congenial manner, ask the questions that keep you in control of your search. “What’s the next step?” “When do you anticipate that taking place?” “When do you plan on having someone on board?” and always “On what will you base your hiring decision?”
Find out the specifics. And whether you are able to learn them or not, continue moving forward with your search. An offer isn’t an offer until they’ve invited you to join the company and given you a salary figure. In other words, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.
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