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Career-Life Times, Issue #22 -- Important Tips for Internal Candidates
Greetings, and welcome to the latest issue of CAREER-LIFE TIMES! Thank you for subscribing! I hope you find this little publication to be informative, useful and entertaining.
If you don't like it for some weird reason, there's an unsubscribe link at the end. And if you have any ideas on how I can improve it, please let me know -- I value your suggestions! My email address is also at the end.
We recently had an opening in our department for an administrative assistant. Though not part of the formal hiring or decision-making process (that was up to my boss), my three co-workers and I participated in informal "get to know the team" interviews with the six finalists (from more than 150 applicants). Four of those were internal candidates already working for our agency in other departments.
We asked each candidate the same four questions, which were:
Don't Get Too Comfortable
One thing I noticed right away was that some of the internal candidates were a bit too honest. Maybe it was because they felt so comfortable with us. Instead of carefully considering their answers, as the external candidates did, three of the four internal candidates often just said the first things that popped into their head.
Here are some of the poor answers that helped rule three of the four internal candidates out as serious contenders for this position:
After these interviews and conferring with our boss, the competition was narrowed down to two finalists -- one internal candidate and one external.
The internal candidate had clearly superior qualifications, including very specific experience of the type needed for the position. And, of course, she was familiar with the organization and knew the employees she'd be working with, if selected.
So why wasn't she immediately chosen for the job? In a word, personality.
Let Your Personality Show
The top external candidate demonstrated an outgoing, friendly and enthusiastic attitude -- as well as a wonderful sense of humor. She smiled genuinely and constantly, she used our names when talking to us, she shared a couple of funny (but relevant) stories that made us all laugh.
When interviewing (whether for an internal or external position), you need to be prepared, score well on the tests, and get the interviewers to think "This person really knows her stuff and will do a great job."
But just as importantly, you also want them to think "I'd really enjoy working with this person!" You certainly do not want to be cracking jokes at an interview, but you do want to show that you'll be a pleasant -- not just competent -- addition to the team.
The internal candidate does have a nice personality and sense of humor, too. But she didn't let this show very much during the interview. If we hadn't already known her, we'd have had no clue about the type of co-worker she'd be.
Realize that Little Things Count
In the end, the internal candidate was chosen. Here are some of the little things that helped her win the job:
In summary, while many organizations prefer to "promote from within," very few will hire anyone other than the top candidate -- whether internal or not. So while it's still true that in many cases an internal candidate may have a slight advantage, it's certainly no guarantee of selection. You must earn it.
The salary survey. Employees usually get excited when they find out their organization will be conducting one. Visions of pay raises start dancing in their heads. But what seems like a wonderful thing can quickly turn into a nightmare... for the employees and the organization.
If you've never experienced a salary survey before, here's a simplified explanation of how it typically works: A number of positions are chosen by your organization to be compared to similar positions at other organizations, usually in the same geographic area. If most of the comparable positions have higher salaries, your organization may increase the salaries of its positions. If comparable positions have lower salaries, no adjustments will be made (so there's no chance of a decrease in salary).
Sounds nice and simple, right? What could go wrong? Let's see...
No comparables equals no adjustment. Suppose you were hired as a graphic designer 3 years ago. During those 3 years, you expanded your duties, voluntarily taking on more responsibilities -- such as becoming the webmaster for your organization's new website and editor of the employee newsletter. Suppose that, before the salary survey, you are given the opportunity to request that your position description be modified to more accurately reflect what you are now doing. Seems good, right? It could be the worst thing you can do! Why? Because unique, "customized" job descriptions cannot be compared. If the agencies chosen for comparisons don't have a position that combines graphic design, webmaster and editor duties, your position has nothing to be compared to, and is thus eliminated from the survey and a shot at a raise.
High expectations equal disappointment and anger. Let's face it, most of us feel we are underpaid. So when a salary survey is announced, many employees (especially those who have done no salary research on their own) feel the resulting information will validate that they are owed, and will receive, a long-overdue raise. If the salary survey data shows that their current salary is equal to or above those of the comparable positions, no such raise will be forthcoming. Instead of feeling satisfied that their company is paying them a fair wage, many employees become disappointed and angry at this result and suspect the survey was somehow "rigged."
Disappointment equals lower morale; lower morale equals lower productivity. Employees whose positions are not included in the survey, eliminated from the survey due to lack of comparables, or found to be not deserving of a raise will be highly disappointed. They may feel that management didn't "try hard enough" to find justification to raise salaries. Some may even become resentful of employees who do receive a raise because of the survey. A negative "us versus them" environment with employees blaming management for the disappointing survey results may ensue. Morale may plummet, and along with it, job performance and overall productivity. The resulting situation can leave the employees, management, and the entire organization in a much worse position than if the salary survey had never been conducted!
What's the answer? Education, preparation and realistic expectations.
Salary surveys can be beneficial, if the above circumstances are considered and prevented. Done properly, salary surveys can ensure equitable consideration of employee pay... so the salaries do not depend on the department manager's desire and ability (or lack thereof) to advocate on their employees' behalf.
Advance planning, clear communication, and consideration of all variables, results, and consequences are needed for a salary survey to be successful .
Are you thinking of slowing down or stopping your job search activities during the holiday season? Many job seekers do. Which means better opportunities for those who do not.
So do the opposite of what most job seekers do during the holiday season -- work doubly hard, and reap the rewards!
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nine out of ten things I did were failures.
I didn't want to be a failure,
so I did ten times more work."
(George Bernard Shaw)
For some Thanksgiving fun, click on this link (turn up your speakers): Thanksgiving Fun
These are supposedly genuine examples of corporate communication.
If you have similarly ridiculous and funny examples from where you work, let me know and I'll share them with our readers!
1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks."
2. "What I need is an exact list of specific unknown problems we might encounter."
3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business."
4. "This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it.”
5. "Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule."
6. "No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them."
7. "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say."
9. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees."
10. "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!"
Happy Veterans Day. My warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks go out to my dad, my ex-husband, and all other Veterans who honorably served their country!
Holiday Season Silliness. I was doing some grocery shopping yesterday. Guess what I found in the bakery? Christmas cookies! Freshly baked, decorated in holiday colors, very pretty -- but who buys Christmas cookies 45 days before Christmas?!? The local hardware store has been displaying Christmas trees and other decorations since mid-October! And, of course, TV commercials hyping the latest and greatest holiday gifts have been airing since Labor Day. It's bad enough that I can't use the word "Christmas" in the employee newsletter at work (so as not to offend non-Christians). But do I have to be made sick of the holiday long before it arrives by all the overly eager retailers? It used to be the most wonderful time of the year. Now it's just the longest.
So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
Please forward this to your friends!
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P.S.S. I apologize for the glitches (especially in links) you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in the HTML format, choose that and it'll look a lot better. Don't worry, I won't have any slowing graphics.
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