Hiring From the Employer’s Perspective Part 3: The Interview (What’s the Employer’s Approach)

As we discussed in Part 1 & 2, we want to walk you through the hiring process.

We have covered the Job Search and The Selection, now it’s time to focus on The Interview from the employer’s perspective.

A recent survey was done by Inc. magazine and the results published in their article, Where Money Meets Morale, where they asked America’s fastest growing companies how they hire and retain their best employees.

Interview Results:

  • Let the conversation flow – 33%
  • Focus on skills and knowledge – 25%
  • Focus on unique interests and competencies – 16%
  • Focus on personality – 9%
  • Use structured questions – 4%

What do these results mean for college students and recent grads?

Don’t let the word “flow” fool you, as this does not mean meandering or lack of a plan.  The interviewer always has a strategy to assess skills, knowledge, interests, competencies and personality. The key is to know ahead of time how you want to tell your story so it flows naturally within the timeframe scheduled.

Hiring From the Employer’s Perspective Part 2: The Selection (how you get picked as the ONE to hire)

As we discussed in Part 1, we want to walk you through the hiring process.

We covered the Job Search first, now we want to discuss The Selection.

A recent survey was done by Inc. magazine and the results published in their article, Where Money Meets Morale, where they asked America’s fastest growing companies how they hire and retain their best employees.

Selection Results:

  • Not surprisingly, the interview is the #1 factor that determines who gets hired – 42%
  • A close second is the subjective assessment for cultural fit – 30%
  • Recommendation from a peer/co-worker – 13%
  • Experience on resume – 5%
  • References – 2%

What does this mean for college students and recent grads?

Interviewing does not come naturally for most people (like public speaking) so practice, practice, and more practice is critical to increase confidence.

Regarding “cultural fit,” this is new for most students and can be heartbreaking if it’s not understood.  Up to this point, students have achieved “success” based on GPA, volunteer and work experience, and willingness to “go for it” in terms of traveling abroad, running for office, or trying something new.

For employers, many students have equivalent academic and extra curricular experience, so they need to assess and differentiate students based on how effectively the student will perform in their work environment.  If a student does not get the job, it is not a referendum on the student’s credentials.  It’s important that parents remind their kids on this often misunderstood but key point.

Hiring From the Employer’s Perspective Part 1: Employer’s favorite methods to identify top talent

Since the college year has ended and many are still in search of internships or full-time employment, I thought it’s a good time for us to walk through the career hiring process at a high level. Let’s break it down into 4 steps; The Search, The Selection, The Interview(s), and The Start.

A recent survey was done by Inc. magazine and the results published in their article, Where Money Meets Morale, where they asked America’s fastest growing companies how they hire and retain their best employees.

Job Search Results:

  • Co-worker and peer referrals remain the #1 method to find top talent – 33%
  • Referrals by former colleagues – 27%
  • Social media (especially LinkedIn) has increased to15%
  • Applications through Human Resources -12%
  • Recruiters – 8%.

What do these results mean for college students and recent grads?

First and foremost, it shows that personal relationships matter.

  • Stay in touch with friends who graduate and connect with them on LinkedIn so you are up-to-date on their employer and position within the company
  • Connect with peers and managers via LinkedIn during internships so you expand your network and can easily communicate with them after it ends
  • Build your network with informational interviews throughout your college experience so you can tap their network when the job search starts

10 Tips for a Successful Internship

As parents, we are elated when our kids gain a coveted paid or unpaid internship.  Let’s go beyond the obvious “work hard” and “go above and beyond” advice and discuss specific things students can do to build new skills, gain confidence, and excel.

  • Ask questions early and often (don’t make assumptions, understand the why)
  • Meet with the manager the first week to discuss success criteria
  • Align thoughts, actions, and work with the company culture
  • Show interest outside of the job scope
  • Be thorough – the devil is in the details
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Improve the process (or make recommendations) whenever possible
  • Be nice – remember that executive assistants, recent college grads, and even contractors are often huge influencers within a company
  • Ask for formal feedback in a private setting a minimum of 1/month
  • Use LinkedIn to highlight the summer internship, increase professional connections, gain skill endorsements and get a recommendation from a manager and a peer before the internship ends

Two Degrees or One?

That is the question. Part of the career search process is deciding what you want to do before you go job hunting. The whole point of getting a degree is to start a career, but some jobs require more than a bachelor’s degree to get there. If you’re in college, especially a senior, no doubt a friend or relative has asked “Are you going to get your masters?” When I hear this question, I am immediately filled with some anxiety because I’m not exactly sure, but at this point, if I can make it work I want to get my masters.

According to the U.S. Census, from 2002 to 2012 the percentage of people that obtained their master’s degrees went up by 43 percent (with the number of women outweighing men.) But I have to always ask myself, as a journalism major, would it be useful? Do I really want to take the extra step down the line to get my Ph.D. and maybe teach later? Do I really want to dig myself deeper into my student loan debt hole? Will I regret it later if I don’t get a master’s degree? So, after doing some major finger exercises Googling the pros and cons of getting a master’s degree, here are my findings.

It’s a personal and professional choice – unique to every student

Food for thought before making the BIG decision:

  • Today more than ever- it’s a skills based, experienced-based workplace.  Go get hands-on experience and confirm to confirm this is the field you want to work in before investing significant amounts of time and money pursuing an advanced degree in the same career area
  • Research your field of study including a review of job descriptions to find out if a masters degree is required to actually ENTER the job market.  Occupational therapy, speech and hearing, and others majors DO require master degrees for entry- level job placement.  Ideally, you want to know this before your junior and senior year so you can plan your finances to pay for it.
  • Begin taking classes on-line – there’s never been more variety and the quality and acceptance by universities and employers alike continues to increase.  Because college student debt stands at a record high of $32.5K, tread carefully before taking on more debt.
  • Check out Certificate programs – these can fuel your passion for learning and provide the opportunity to build new skills while reducing $ and time commitments
  • Research, research, research

Cost vs. Benefit:

Highlights from SXSWedu

For a first-timer, this educational conference was both invigorating and overwhelming.  With 15 sessions running simultaneously, it was impossible to cover everything. I focused my attention on Higher Ed and EdTech sessions, but wish I could’ve cloned myself, as there were still too many panels to choose from.

The exciting news is that innovation is coming to higher ed, most of which is being created and driven by tech entrepreneurs.  The question will be whether university presidents and faculty decide to embrace these changes and partner with companies or stand their ground and hold on to traditional models and methods.

Here are some nuggets that made an impact on me.

  • Chegg CEO, Dan Rosensweig, the textbook rental and learning platform company, is on a mission to transform higher ed, reduce costs, and improve graduation rates and job outcomes. He hired a polling company to interview college grads– here’s the sobering stats on why changes are needed FAST.
    • 50% of college grads wish they would have changed their major
    • 40% of college grads are underemployed, 18% unemployed
    • College grads leave with an average debt of $35.2K
    • In 2010, college grads were financially independent by 25, now the average age is 30
  • LinkedIn, at 277M users, continues to expand product features (portfolio and University pages) and users at the rate of 2 every minute.
    • Bottom line – college students must have a presence on LinkedIn and the quality of each profile matters more than ever before
    • Check out other LinkedIn stats here
    • See what companies and industries have the best internship to offer rates here
  • The topic of GRIT was mentioned in multiple sessions as educators grapple with how to teach it. It’s important.

Why Grit, not IQ, Predicts Success

Which Traits Predict Success? (The Importance of Grit)

Top 10 Hot Jobs for New College Grads

As we all know, new college grads continue to have a much higher unemployment and underemployment rate than the rest of the population. Given this reality, it helps to understand what careers are in demand and will continue to be in the years to come.

The University of California, San Diego just conducted their 5th annual study, “Hot Careers for College Graduates.”  For this report, they looked at current employment numbers, projected growth over 10 years, median annual salary, and workplace characteristics. Not surprising, jobs in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) lead the pack.

1. Software Developer — Systems Software

2. Software Developers — Applications

3. Market Research Analyst/Marketing Specialist

4. Accountant/Auditor

5. Network/Computer Systems Administrator

6. Elementary School Teacher

7. Computer Systems Analyst

8. Management Analyst

9. Public Relations Specialist

10. Insurance Sales Agent


Salary Negotiation – Do It, You Are Worth It

As a girl growing up amidst the corn fields of southern Indiana, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have a father who “talked business” with me until much later in life. We would discuss company profits, the challenges of the manufacturing sector, and the importance of a good education along with many other topics. We would also discuss the value of people.

When my offer letter arrived from my “dream” company (Intel) prior to my graduation from Purdue, I shouted with joy and was ready to sign the bottom line after a quick glance over the details. My father, so proud of his newly minted college graduate, was excited as well, but wanted to walk through the entire document with me.  Afterward he said, “I suggest you negotiate your salary and your start date since you are moving across the country for this job.”

Needless to say, I shocked my manager as I asked for more money (and got it) and requested a later start date (and got that too). This was the beginning of many salary negotiations throughout my career.

The sad reality is that most people never negotiate a thing as it relates to a job offer.

Per a recent Fast Company article, 49% of job candidates take their initial offer. The result is an income loss of over $600K during a 40 year career.  Studies also show women negotiate less often than men.

After helping a colleague negotiate her package for a new job just last week, I suggest the following:

  1. Evaluate your entire compensation package, don’t just look at the salary (401K, vacation time, healthcare benefits, bonuses, etc. are all important factors)
  2. Research and know the salary ranges of jobs in your industry and city for comparison (knowledge is power)
  3. Take the emotion of out it – this is a business deal
  4. Be honest with yourself in terms of what’s the most important to you right now (Tuition reimbursement may be a top priority right out of college while great health benefits may be a priority when starting a family)
  5. Take into consideration the title – especially if further along in your career as this too can be negotiated


Recruiters Using Social Media – The Increase in Importance May Surprise You

I understand as a business owner how important social media is to my company in terms of hiring as I review online profiles and LinkedIn recommendations on a routine basis. I also know how critical a robust online presence is as recruiters reach out to me directly regarding opportunities or to connect with me to ask if I know qualified candidates for an open position.

Based on the infographic by Staff.com, 92% of companies are using social media for hiring and they are not just using LinkedIn.  Believe these numbers as they are only going to increase, beef up your profiles, and give employers a reason to seek you out or confirm their first impressions.



Great Read for Parents and Students Alike – Daring Greatly

I don’t know about you, but when I think about interviews – vulnerability comes to mind.

That’s probably why interviewing is considered one of life’s stressful activities as you open yourself up to judgment, comparison, and subjective evaluation.

The definition of vulnerability is: the state of being vulnerable or exposed; “his vulnerability to litigation”; “his exposure to ridicule”

In Brene Brown’s blockbuster book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she encourages each of us to understand vulnerability, embrace it, and use it to lead authentic and courageous lives.

This book is based on twelve years of research, her TED talk has been viewed over 10 million times, and many CEO’s of corporate America have invited her to talk to their employees about the topic of vulnerability.  I sure wish I would’ve had this resource as a college student!

Do yourself a favor – read it and have your high school or college student do the same.

It’s a great foundation for discussing passions and careers. Hopefully it will reduce the stress level during the interview process as well.

Let me know what you think.