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The Recruiting Blog of KG Workforce Solutions.

Creating an Interview Thank You Message

February 26, 2020 by KG Workforce Solutions

Sending a well crafted thank you message can set you apart from other candidates!

In addition to showing respect for an interviewer’s time, an interview thank you message offers a lot of opportunity for a job seeker. A thank you message gives you a chance to express your interest in a job, emphasize your relevant qualifications, and follow up on pertinent details. It is also an opportunity to communicate things you did not get to discuss during your interview or address concerns.

Writing an interview thank you message will not land you the job if you are not the best candidate. However, it can turn the table in your favor in certain circumstances. A well written thank you message will certainly not cost you the job, and it could help you get it – so why not send one? According to CareerBuilder, 57% of candidates don’t send thank you notes. Set yourself apart from other candidates!!!!

Below are some tips and answers to frequently asked questions about post-interview thank you messages.

When should I send a thank you message?

Within 24 hours after your interview. This is critical! You should send a quick message after every interview.

What is the best format for a thank you message?

Since the message needs to be sent within 24 hours after your interview, email is the best option. You can always follow up with a handwritten message or formal letter too!

Who should I send a thank you message to?

Send a thank you message to every person with whom you interview. It’s also nice to send a quick thank you message to anyone who coordinated your interview (though that message will have less content).

What is the best format for a thank you message?

Since most interview thank you messages are emailed, let’s focus on the anatomy of a well-composed email message versus a formal letter! Generally, a thank you message will have three or four brief paragraphs, plus opening and closing acknowledgments.

Opening: Address the recipient by name, such as Dear John or Dear Mr. Smith. Make it personal – don’t send one generic message to a group of interviewers – customize it!

1st Paragraph- The Purpose Paragraph: Start by thanking the interviewer for his/her time. Make sure to reference the job for which you interviewed. This is a suitable place to reference connections you made with the interviewer, such as attending the same school, supporting the same sports teams, people you know in common, etc. If you did not make any personal connections, reference two or three relevant soft skills you discussed during the interview. This paragraph should be no more than three to five sentences.

2nd Paragraph- Justification Paragraph: Justify your qualifications for the position. List specific skills or experience that are relevant to the position or its goals. This paragraph should support why you are the right candidate for the position. Reiterate what you can do for the employer/interviewer (make it about them, not just you). Use bullets to break up the paragraph if it gets too long. Keep it to three bullets. Three to five sentences should suffice for the paragraph text.

3rd Paragraph- Clarification Paragraph: Identify any information you need to clarify from the interview or any relevant information you were unable to express during your interview. This paragraph can also be used to address any concerns that arose during the interview. This paragraph should be no more than five concise sentences. If you do not have any concerns or new information to communicate, this paragraph may be omitted.

4th Paragraph- Conclusion Paragraph: This is the final paragraph of your letter. It should reiterate your interest in the position and appreciation for the interviewer’s time. When appropriate, include a call-to-action or statement-of-action. A call-to-action requests the interviewer to do something, such as “please call me at <phone number> to schedule our next interview.” A statement-of-action indicates what you plan to do, such as “I will give you a call Tuesday to follow up on the next steps.” This paragraph is typically only two or three sentences.

Closing: Include a professional closure (ex: sincerely, regards, etc.) followed by a comma and your first and last name. If you did not provide a phone number in paragraph four, include one below your name.

What are the most common issues with thank you messages?

  • Spelling and grammar errors are the biggest. Proofread your message multiple times.
  • Waiting too long to send a thank you message. Stick to the 24-hour rule. If for some reason you cannot send it within 24 hours, aim for 48 hours.
  • Referencing the interviewer by the wrong name.
  • Not customizing the message to be specific about your interview and/or the opportunity.

Summary

If you only take away a few tips from this post, let these be them:

  • Proofread.
  • Customize the message for each interview.
  • Send within 24 hours.
  • Keep it short, concise, and targeted (average message will be 150-300 words).
  • A poorly written message can be worse than no message.

Phone Interview Tips

January 28, 2018 by kgworkforce

A phone interview can be difficult, but it’s easier with a little preparation and practice. For many positions, especially contract positions, hiring decisions are made after one phone interview. YES, after only one telephone interview!! This means you only have one shot to make a great first impression and you won’t be able to rely on your charming smile or sparkling eyes. You have to sell yourself over the telephone in one conversation.

Below are some tips that can help ensure you nail your telephone interview.

Research before your phone interview.

Know basic details about the company, job requirements, and hiring manager/interviewer(s) before your phone interview. Ask questions that you can’t find on the company website.

Have your resume in front of you.

Read your resume before the interview and make sure you can provide examples that support what you have written on the resume. One of the surest ways to blow an interview is for the interviewer to ask you a question about your resume and you have NO IDEA what they are referring to. If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to get a copy of the resume he/she sent to the manager if they made any changes to your original resume.

Speak clearly and sit up straight.

Avoid mumbling, speed talking, slang, and improper grammar. Sitting up straight helps you articulate your speech and reduce mumbling, so even though you are interviewing via phone, posture matters!

Answer the question.

Make sure your responses actually answer the questions asked. In most cases, less is more, so avoid a rant. If the interviewer wants additional details, he/she will ask for them. However, if you ramble for 20 minutes, the interviewer may just stop listening! It is especially critical to be mindful of this in a phone interview where you won’t have the interviewer’s body language available to queue you in if this is happening!

Be ready at least 15 minutes early.

Be available, with your phone, at least 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start. Make sure your phone is charged and use a landline if available. If you have to use a cell phone, make sure you are in an area with good cell reception.

Avoid phone interview distractions.

Find a quiet place to take the call. Too much background noise can make it hard for the interviewer to understand you. Even though it’s a phone interview, dedicate the time to the interview and only the interview. Don’t wash dishes, use the restroom, fold laundry, check your email, etc.  During the interview, only focus on the interview just as you would do in an in-person interview.

Prepare your answers.

Practice answers to the most common interview questions (sample questions). There is no excuse to be caught off guard with any of these questions. Everyone knows these are the types of questions many interviewers ask, so BE PREPARED.

Express interest.

Don’t hang up the phone without expressing your interest in the job. This can be uncomfortable, so practice it ahead of time. Your expression of interest does not have to be a super aggressive sales-close, but should be sincere and clear!

Do not put the interviewer on hold.

Unless there is a significant emergency, it is not appropriate to put the interviewer on hold or take another call during the interview. It is sad that this even needs to be a point of discussion in this article. But it happens!

Common Interview Questions

January 24, 2018 by kgworkforce

Interviewing can be difficult, especially if you are not prepared to answer common interview questions. The good news is that it is easy to prepare for certain interview questions, though you are likely to get a few wild card questions in any interview!

Below are some of the most common interview questions that are universal to almost any industry:

    1. Why are you interested in this position?
    2. What are your greatest strengths?
    3. What are your greatest weaknesses?
    4. Why are you looking to leave your current job?
    5. Tell me about a time you had to deal with an angry customer (or coworker, boss, etc)?
    6. What are you looking for in your next position?
    7. Why should we hire you?
    8. What are your greatest accomplishments?
    9. Tell me about a conflict you’ve had at work and how you dealt with it?
    10. Where do you see yourself in three years? Five years?
    11. What other companies are you interviewing with?
    12. Have you ever had a boss you did not like? If yes, how did you deal with him/her?
    13. Have you ever disagreed with a corporate decision? If so, tell me about the situation and how you handled it?
    14. Why did you leave your last position(s)?
    15. Describe the worst job you have ever had?

Before your interview, you should be prepared to answer questions, such as those above. If you are unsure about how to answer, seek advice from your family, friends, or trusted business associates. Being prepared with a concise, honest, and meaningful response is critical; keeping in mind the following:

  • Don’t bash former employers
  • Keep responses positive
  • Keep the job for which you are interviewing in mind when you answer
  • Answer the question, don’t redirect, avoid, or start rambling
  • Smile, even if the answer you have to give makes you a little uncomfortable

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Interview Questions to Uncover Company Culture

January 17, 2018 by kgworkforce

So, you are excited that you finally got an interview with what you believe to be your dream company! But how do you really know that the company and the position are right for you? Understanding company culture is just as important as understanding the duties of a position if you are looking for a long-term employment match.

Below are easy questions you can ask your interviewer to help uncover the true team and company culture. You don’t need to ask all of these, but pick a few that really resonate with you and make sure to fit them into your interview.

What is your favorite part of working here?

If the interviewer struggles to answer, that might be a flag. Anyone should be able to come up with at least one positive for their place of employment; or perhaps they should not be working there! This question is sure to give you insight into the company culture.

How would you describe the company culture {or team culture}?

Yes, it is that simple. Most interviewers will give you very honest information regarding the company culture if you just ask!

How financially stable is the company? 

For most public companies, you can get this information fairly easily, so this is a better question for small businesses and privately held companies. The answer to this question will not only give you an idea of the company’s stability, but also some insight into how transparent the company is (don’t expect to get financial details, but you should be able to tell if the interviewer has any idea or if such questions are considered faux pas in their company culture ).

Why is this position open?

Did someone resign or get terminated? Is the company growing? Has there been a restructure? This information will provide a lot of insight and often open the door for additional questions about the company culture, specific information about the position, and general turnover data.

What is the management structure for the team {or company}?

Depending on your personality, you may prefer a flatter organization or one with many management layers. This question will help you understand the hierarchy, while also giving you some insight into possible growth potential without specifically asking.

What is the performance management or performance review process?

This question is really important. If you work best with constant feedback and in-person communication, a performance management process where you meet with your manager once a year and sign a form, may not be well suited for you. Conversely, if you are a “give me a task and let me be” type employee, a performance management process that includes weekly status checks and pep talks with your manager may not be ideal.

Do most employees eat lunch together or alone, or work through lunch?

This might seem like a simple or odd question, but you can learn about how employees interact with one another by the answer you get to this question.

What are your primary communication tools with your team (email, phone, in-person)?

If you thrive with personalized communication and lots of face time with your manager, do you want to work for a manager who relies mostly on email? If you prefer email communication, will a manager who wants to talk in person all the time drive you nuts? Neither is right or wrong, just better suited for some people than others.

Accepting a new job is a big commitment. Take the time to research and prepare before you interview, and try to learn about the company culture. This will give you the best chance of accepting a position where you will thrive and be happy.

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Additional blog articles available at KG Blog.

7 Tips for Making a Good Hiring Decision

August 28, 2017 by kgworkforce

Hiring employees is one of the most essential, yet expensive, initiatives of an organization. There are several key components to a successful recruiting effort that can help minimize the risk of making a poor decision when hiring employees. Incorporating these 7 tips into your hiring process can lead you down the best path to select the right employee!

Understand the Need

There is a difference in what you need and what you want when recruiting for a position. Taking the time to differentiate between what you want and what you need can save you a lot of time and money during the recruiting process, and help ensure you hire the right candidate for the job.

Team Dynamics and Culture

Hiring the right candidate means that not only does the new employee possess the skills, abilities, experience, and aptitude you need, but also that they will fit in. Collect information from the hiring manager, as well as team members, to ensure you fully understand the team dynamics and culture.

Conduct Market Research Before Hiring Employees

Know the availability and compensation trends for the type of employee you are looking to hire. Knowing whether you may need to relocate a candidate, if there is a high supply of talent in an area, and what compensation expectations are for such talent will enable you to more effectively recruit for the right employee. In today’s market, you must be competitive to secure top talent!

Educate Hiring Managers

Managers need to understand interview and market trends and techniques. They also need to be in synch with HR and other contacts with whom potential employees interact from your organization. And not that you have ever known a hiring manager who asked an inappropriate interview question, but trust me, they exist! Education is a critical component to effective hiring.

Multiple Screening Techniques

There are a ton of different interview styles and assessment tools available to employers. By using a variety of tools and techniques in the interview process, you can capture a more well-rounded understanding of a candidate. Thus, increasing the likelihood of making a hire who is both a skills and culture fit.

Targeted Company Features

Understand the demographics and needs of the candidates you interview and leverage those to sell your company. For example, if a candidate is primarily concerned with opportunity for advancement; make sure to discuss your company’s tuition reimbursement, succession planning, leadership programs, etc. If a candidate is primarily concerned with having a flexible work schedule, make sure to discuss your company’s options for job sharing, flex schedules, or remote work. If a candidate is most concerned with compensation, selling your company’s gym offerings will be less effective than selling your retirement plan or bonus structure.

Stay in Touch with Candidates

Many candidates decline offers because they don’t feel a connection, don’t build a rapport with interviewers, or don’t feel informed about the hiring process. Keeping in touch with candidates throughout the interview process, especially between the offer and start date, is critical.

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

July 1, 2016 by kgworkforce

Frustrated Interviewee

You’re in an interview and it’s going well. You’re qualified and you’ve impressed them so far. You’re thinking you have this in the baguntil the interviewer asks, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Your mind goes blank, an awkward silence sets in, and you feel yourself begin to sweat. What do you do?!

“What is your greatest weakness?” is one of the most dreaded, yet common, interview questions. Understanding why employers ask this question and being prepared to answer the question are critical to a successful interview.

Why do employers ask this question? Do they really think they will get an honest and insightful answer? Yes, they do. Employers want to know the good and the bad about applicants so they can make the best hiring decision possible. It also provides a prospective employer the opportunity to see how a job applicant responds to a question that intentionally makes them a little uncomfortable. Many times, the employer is just as concerned with HOW you answer this question as they are with WHAT your answer is.

So how do you answer this question? First, you prepare. This question is intended to throw you off your game. But since it is one of the most common interview questions, there is no excuse for letting it stump you. Use this question to help separate you from other candidates by having an insightful, honest, and memorable response. Avoid the most common answers to this question. The clichéd responses include “I am a perfectionist”, “I am too critical of my work”, and “I don’t think I have a weakness”. Even if these clichés are true for you, this is not how you want to respond. EVERYONE has a weakness!

This simple formula will help you conquer this question like a pro:

Declaration + Example + Accomplishment

Declaration: Explain your weakness in an honest, concise form. For example, “I like to help people and it is hard for me to say no sometimes.”

Example: Provide an example that is concise and business related. For example, “Early in my career, when I was working at (Company), I was sitting at my desk one night wrapping up a presentation for a huge sales meeting the next day. I was thinking to myself, why am I still working on this at 9 pm the night before the presentation? That’s when I realized that I had to start telling people no. I had taken on so many special projects that week that I was just overloaded.”

Tough Interview

Accomplishment: Turn the weakness into an accomplishment or positive. For example, “I still love being the go-to person who everyone trusts to do whatever is needed to get the job done. And I still do whatever it takes to get the job done. But I have learned that I can only do so much without sacrificing quality or missing deadlines. Now when someone asks if I can take on a special project or just quickly pull together that report they want ASAP, I really think about it before I say yes. And if I don’t have time, I am confident enough to openly discuss my concerns. I used to think saying no was a sign of weakness, but as I have matured in my career, I have learned that not being able to say no is actually the weakness.”

Have at least two responses prepared for this question and practice delivering your response ahead of time. You may feel silly, but it is much better to feel silly practicing your answers alone or with a friend than in person during a real interview.

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