Thursday, January 28, 2010

Candidate Tip - Part 4

Few months back, I had started the ‘Candidate Tip Series’ with the intention to answer hiring related questions from readers. The series was introduced in an attempt to avoid redundancy in replies.

Further, I tweet these tips on my twitter account too using #candidatetip. If you are a candidate, hope this helps. If not, you can help send this post to anyone searching for answers. I’ll continue to take questions and should you have one, you can send it to

Looking for the earlier posts on candidate tips? Here’s part – 1, 2 and 3.

Here’s Part – 4:

  • Don't pick up the phone & start texting during an interview! If it's that important, keep the interviewer informed that you are expecting a text message that needs your reply. It’s obvious, you need to inform the interviewer before the start of the interview.

  • No, you can’t invite your wife for a luncheon that's specifically organized for you to get to know the team. Family day will come later.

  • Flying you down for an interview is an expensive deal. So missing a flight doesn’t show you in good light. It’s always better to be early at the airport. Plan well.

  • Nervousness while interviewing is ok. But don't ramble on when you don’t know the answer. It's ok to not know a few things.

  • When asked, "Do you have any questions?" in an interview. Ask. Don't wait for the offer letter to get to know the company. Might be late. You would have wasted everyone’s time. Especially your time.

  • You might have submitted your resume earlier, but it's ok to carry an updated one (if any) for the interview. However, keep the interviewer informed before the start of the interview.

  • No, you can't involve your spouse in the offer discussion! Red flag! Where did that come from? You were interviewed for the role. Did the interviewer miss catching something during the interview?

  • Cracking too many smarta$$ jokes / just laughing for no reason during an interview doesn't go in your favor. It question’s your very interest in the role. That might not even be true!

  • It's advisable to plan well & take the telephonic interview in a calm/silent place. That background noise might drown out our answer.

  • Increase in your personal expense isn't a 'valid' reason to ask for a hike! You don't need a hike, u need better money management. Think before you talk.
  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Recruiter mails offer letter to official email ID!

    From a reader:

    I had interviewed a couple of weeks back and got through after multiple rounds of interview. Prior to the start of the interview process I had filled out a ‘pre-interview’ form that was given to me by the recruiter. In the contact details part of the form, I had mentioned my personal email id and phone number as primary contact points. I was also asked to give my current official email id as part of the form filling exercise. I had clearly indicated that I was not to be reached or sent any communication about the interview process to my official email id, since the email is shared within the team. I made it through the interviews and the recruiter had called to discuss the offer with me before emailing it to me. He then sent the offer letter to my official email id. I think my manager and colleagues have read the mail. This might affect my exit and references. How do I manage this?

    My reaction on reading this was…Arrgghhh, another recruiter blunder! The first one was here, but this one’s plain stupid.

    Well, there are at least five different sets of people that are going to get affected by this mail. You. Your current manager. Colleagues. Prospective manager. Recruiter.

    We’ll take it one at a time.

    First, are you ok with the offer? If yes, it makes things a lot easier. There really isn’t much you can do now but start the exit discussion with your manager. You cannot rule out the possibility that this will affect your exit process. You can however come out clean and tell the manager that you had provided the email id as part of the form filling activity. Further, that you had clearly indicated (I hope this wasn’t just verbal) that the official id was not to be used for any sort of interview communication. It’s good to be truthful, cause then you have nothing to hide. He might buy that, but don’t bank on him accepting it right away. He’ll be wary of setting a precedent. If he goes easy on you, the other team members won’t take to it lightly. He’ll have to deal with discontented team members who know about the offer. On the other hand, if you aren’t ok with the offer, then I suggest you either bargain for a better offer or start updating your resume. Hope it’s the former that works out better.

    I’ll give the benefit of doubt to your colleagues and assume they didn’t read the mail which was addressed to you. But then, curiosity can do strange things. If for example, the mail had a subject line: From xxxxx: Offer Letter. That would turn even the most disinterested reader into a curious reader. Your colleagues are going to be upset with you. Period. Not because you are leaving them (that’s more emotional), but because they now know your offer and are comparing that with their current job. Your manager’s not going to be happy with this situation. One person’s mail has caused an imbalance within the whole team!

    Next up is the recruiter. Well, where do I start? I’m just going to say that if I was the recruiter’s manager, I would be having a candid discussion right this minute. The recruiter’s blunder is going to affect their chances of getting you across the line. Hope you have mailed the recruiter, making your displeasure known. This might not help your case, but he should know he messed up. The damage has been done and the worst part is that he is no longer in control of the consequences.

    As for the prospective manager, if you are ok with the offer, I suggest you write to him and explain the situation. You may want to tell him about the possibility of not getting references from your present manager. However, do mention that you’ll try and work out things from your end. There’s only so much your future manager can do. He wasn’t the one sending out the mail. Hopefully, he’ll understand and give you some flexibility.

    Finally, the person in the middle of the storm is you. Since the email id is shared, there’s a possibility that a log’s maintained for all mail transactions. Bring it up with the manager and request him to either delete it or allow you to delete it from the id. Again, it’s only damage control. It will only stop others (who haven’t already read the mail) from accessing the mail.

    Good luck!

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Should I hire external interviewers?

    From a reader, based on a previous post here.

    I have a question that’s in context to an earlier post on getting interviewed by a younger person. I’m the only HR person at a startup that has fourteen employees. We currently don’t have interviewers within the startup for specific skills. We are planning to hire external interviewers from agencies to take interviews for these skills. I’ve been assigned to find out the feasibility of going with this model. There is a possibility that we would have younger external interviewers taking interviews for senior roles. Would it impact the way candidates perceive the startup? If we choose to go with this model, what should we look out for?


    Well, it’s an interesting thought. At the startups that I worked, we had used the services of external interviewers and must say that we had a so-so hit. But I did get to learn a lot from that experience and here’s my take on the model.

    First, since your question is based on my previous post, I’ll repeat that as long as you have competent interviewers, the interview process should go on just fine. Don’t get confused with years of work experience and competency. Especially in a startup that most often relies heavily on the latter.

    Well, coming back to your question. What deliverables are you expecting from the external interviewers? If you are hiring them to identify the best fit candidate from start to end, then you may want to rethink that strategy. Yes, it’s critical for the external interviewers to understand the job requirements before starting the interview process. However, the key to make this is work is to ensure that the external interviewers are to only assess specific skills. Their selection process should be very objective. That should be the very reason you would want to hire external interviewers. After they have done identifying the right fit candidate, you then continue with your normal interview process. The final decision or call on hiring a candidate should rest with the people running the startup. Period.

    Would this impact the candidate’s perception? I don’t think so. Really. Every startup needs to be sold like an idea and that applies even to candidates. If that’s true, then candidates would have got enough information about the startup from you, before coming down for an interview. So, sparing the odd candidate, most of them wouldn’t really change their perception of the startup. Should you tell them about hiring external interviewers? Maybe, just maybe, you may not want to emphasize on that. As long as you have chosen a fair selection process and one that lets you make the final decision, it should work fine.

    What to watch out for? Set the right expectations for their role in the hiring process. Never let them do the selling. Track deliverables regularly, but don’t micromanage their interviews. It’s quite obvious that they’ll charge you a fee for taking interviews, that shouldn’t force you to ask them to select candidate(s) in a hurry. Your $x dollars spent now will multiply 2x/3x times, which way would you want it to go? Spend it on firing a wrong fit candidate in 3 months or making money from a right fit candidate that can deliver the best for your startup’s product/service. The choice is simple. Isn’t it?

    Good luck!

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Guest Post: Dealing with a whiner for a co-worker

    Author: Dkris

    Often (at least it seems that way), we come across people who are plain unhappy with every thing under the sun. Right from the weather, elevator button, doorknob, printer, cooler, food at the cafeteria, colleagues, clients, boss, workload and the list is endless. It feels like they just cannot stop complaining about things that looks and works fine. You get the feeling that they are always on the look out to be noticed, liked and empathized. To an extent where you might pass the person off as someone who is “busy doing nothing”!

    Do we need say more that we are dealing with a “whiner”?

    Whining is contagious and whiners can influence people very easily with their non-stop complaining. Even try and get others involved in matters that are not of a concern to them. Usually whiners tend to indentify an ‘active audience’ which is ready to listen to them. If you were stuck within such an audience, you have may tried a few things to avoid the whiner.

    • Topping the list would be to ignore the whiner.
    • Other methods might include, finding solutions, complaining about whiners to the boss, complaining along with the whiner or even agreeing with them to get rid of them quickly
    Noticed something? These methods just haven’t had the desired affect on the whiner. In fact it could end up affecting the team in a bad way. It can bring down the morale and productivity of the team, since collective energies are used to either avoid or get rid of the whiner. It can cause a lot of unwanted stress within the team.

    So that brings us to the question, how then do we deal with whiners at work?

    For starters, don’t argue with them. An argument infuriates them more and works to their advantage. Don’t try and message your thoughts via mail. That’s a definite no-no for dealing with a whiner. Most often they prefer an in-person discussion. It’s good to document, but that only after you have met for a discussion. They are not seeking solutions either! So here goes, if you are dealing with a whiner:

    As a colleague: Show tact in your discussions with a whiner. The next time a whiner comes by to your desk, you could try telling, “I understand that this is important to you. I would love to help you with the issue, but I do see that you have some concerns with . I would suggest you discuss it directly with . I prefer not to be a part of that discussion.”

    As a manager: It’s critical that you stay in control during your discussion with the whiner. Spotting them early is an integral part of your role. This would lead towards ensuring that the whiner’s issues are addressed and it doesn’t have a negative impact on your team. That’s obvious. Yet, it’s so often neglected, in the hope that the problem will go away by itself! In fact resolving the issue will boost the team’s productivity levels and will lead to a healthy working environment. You could tell, “Joe, I’ve noticed that your behavior is affecting the team (mention a couple of instances). It’s having a negative impact and hurting the team’s performance and morale. I would like you to discuss any concerns/ issues, directly with me.”

    If you feel you aren’t able to tell them tactfully or if nothing else works, it might help if you can have a sign like this at your desk/office. When cryptic messages fail, a straight forward message might save you a lot of trouble.

    (Image Credits: Nygoe)

    What works for you?

    About the Author
    Dkris is a software professional and currently works for a mobile web firm. His interests range from trance music, web development, blogging, tweeting etc. He is an Ubuntu Fan boi and loves Open source. You can know more about him on his homepage

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