It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Interviewers who make no effort to sell you on the job
Over the past few years, I keep experiencing interviews where the company makes no attempt to sell me on the job. Is this a trend?
Last week, I foolishly went on an interview where there was no job description – I kept being promised that the recruiter would get it to me, but it never appeared. I assumed I’d have a chance to ask lots of questions in the interview to figure out the job, but I had no time to even ask a question about the interview process! No time was spent selling me on the job or the company either, just softball management style questions. What is up with that?
What’s up with that is bad interviewing, and interviewers who forget that part of the point of the hiring process is for candidates to decide if they even want the job; it’s a two-way street. But if you’re ever offered a job and haven’t yet had a chance to get your own questions answered, it’s perfectly fine to say, “I really appreciate the offer. I have some questions about the job that we didn’t have a chance to cover when I interviewed. Is now a good time to ask those, or could we set up a time to talk in the next day or two?”
2. What if my coworker fails a class I teach?
In addition to my regular job, I also adjunct teach at a local university. My classes are technically an upper undergraduate level, but are a mix of graduate students, current professionals, and researchers at the university. I have a regular job peer who also is also an adjunct in this same department, and both of us have had several of her subordinates as students.
If a coworker does well in our classes, we generally both know about it and it definitely helps them in the workplace. But what happens when a coworker does poorly? What if a coworker fails my class or one of her subordinates fails her class because they simply failed to do the work?
We can discuss this as faculty and try to help the student with any barriers they may be having. Neither of us, though, knows if there is anything more we should do as coworker and supervisor.
FERPA probably does matter here, and maybe even good performance in the classroom should not reflect on the workplace. As coworker and supervisor, are there any workplace-related actions we should take relative to this? Can we let classroom performance affect how we view workload and new assignments? Or should we try to act as if this never happened and separate workplace from classroom?
Oooh, tricky. I think the cleanest way to handle this is that someone’s performance in your class is a whole different thing than their performance on the job — after all, someone could do well at one and not as well at the other (which actually happens all the time). Moreover, if someone is stretched thin, they might put more effort into work (since that’s their livelihood) than into school (where no one else is counting on them), so it seems wrongly to penalize them at the former for their performance in the latter.
That said, your coworker is actually managing some of the people in her class, which complicates it. If I were her, I think I’d talk to those employees/students at the start and explain that I try to keep a strict firewall between work and class — which might assuage worries that they might have (or should have, if they’re being thoughtful about this) as well.
3. Do employers not want to hire the long-term unemployed?
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the longterm effects of unemployment on hirability, and I was wondering if you could write a blog post offering an inside look at how managers view those who have been out of work for more than six months. Does this Washington Post article feel accurate to you?
I want to tell you that it’s not accurate, but in reality … yeah, that’s generally correct.
Because of that, if you’ve been out of work for a while, the more you can engage in work-ish activities, the better. Volunteer, serve on committees, try to take on some freelance work in your field — whatever you can do that’s as close to working as possible. (People often put “take a class” on this list, but I’m not convinced it’s the same.)
4. Wearing the “uniform” of a company to an interview
A friend of mine has an interview next week that he is very excited about. The company is well known for it’s high end and fashionable brand profile, although it is not a fashion company per se. Anyway, the culture there is for employees to wear all black. My friend thinks he should wear all black to the interview and is stressing about finding an appropriate all black ensemble. I think that just because the employees wear all black, does not mean that interviewees should, and that he should stop stressing and just wear a nice suit. But maybe I am off-base. What advice do you have?
I don’t think he needs to wear all black, just like you wouldn’t wear scrubs to interview at a doctor’s office, even if you’d be wearing them once on the job. (Although so many business outfits are all black that it wouldn’t be odd if he did end up doing it anyway.)
5. Writing a cover letter to a company where 8+ former coworkers now work
I am looking to apply for a position at a prospective company that happens to employ quite a few roll-over’s from the company I am currently with. There are at least eight people there who would be quite familiar with me and my work. I have contacted most of them via LinkedIn and all have given me their blessing to use their names as referrals. How can I use that in my cover letter? Do I list them all out, only use one or two names?
Listing them all out is going to seem weird and like overkill. I’d name just a couple of them — the ones who can best speak to your work — and say something like, “I worked closely with Perseus Mulberry, Lucinda Skeetmoore, and others from XYZ Company who now work for you.”