We routinely advise our candidates to make the best possible use of personal and professional networks. Speaking to the right person at the right time can often make a significant difference in your immediate job hunt, and your long-term career. Having some extra insider information from a trusted contact can certainly help your confidence at interviews, and if you present your assembled facts effectively in front of a selection panel, it might well swing the balance in your favour.
While it is important to keep your ear to the ground, it is equally important to assess any insider tips you receive for their reliability. I can think of couple of examples where job seekers have come unstuck on this front. We were pleased to get a couple of people in for interview for an unusual project role. The client contacted us shortly after the first candidate’s appointment to let us know that the interview had been very amicable, but the candidate had decided to withdraw as soon as it became apparent that the job was not “temp-to-perm”, but was a fixed-term contract. At no point had we discussed a temp-to-perm possibility with the candidate: their source of (mis) information was a friend working at the organisation, who had been told of an impending permanent recruitment. Our second candidate got the job, and the first was left looking a little foolish.
An interview for a permanent role went awry when a candidate, on being asked if they had anything to ask the panel, questioned why the job had been substantially changed from its original form before being advertised. When someone moves on from a job, particularly when they’ve been in post for some time, it is common practice for a manager to re-examine basic business needs and redesign the whole role. The source of information behind this question again was not us, but a friend in the organisation. It was a reasonable question to ask, but it would have been far better to get the answer from us, the recruitment agency before the interview, rather than put the panel on the spot.
What lessons can be learned from this? Information professionals should go back to basics. Use several sources of information when researching for an interview. Consider how they might or might not be appropriate for the task in hand. What bias or prejudice might they bring to the table? Your first source of information will be the job advertisement, then the job description and person specification, followed by any surrounding documents from the organisation itself, web-based or otherwise. A “friend on the inside” may well have some interesting insights about what is going on in a particular team or organisation, but they will not have the whole picture, and their view may well be affected by internal politics.
If you are applying for a job directly to an employer, it is often appropriate to contact the recruiting manager in advance to find out more about the background to the job. Frequently the advert or the application pack will give you a named contact who you can speak to for further information.
If you are applying for a job through Sue Hill Recruitment, we will have had comprehensive discussions with the client about the role, and it is us who you should be speaking to for further information.
Some larger high-street agencies operate as faceless and semi-automated CV clearing-houses. When you work with a smaller, ethical, niche agency like Sue Hill Recruitment, you know that your questions will be answered by experienced recruiters, with extensive, hands-on professional knowledge. We work hard to develop and maintain good relationships with our clients, and we want you to shine at interview and to get a great job.
When preparing for an interview, if in doubt, give us a shout.
- Donald Lickley