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was caught off guard during a recent interview when the interviewer indicated
that a credit check was being performed as part of the candidacy process.
She asked me if I thought anything substantial was going to show up. I felt cornered and went on to explain my financial
challenges due to a recent divorce. How
could I have handled that differently?”
Mike A., Albany, NY
Background and credit checks are
being integrated into the hiring process to verify criminal history and the
financial stability of candidates. Prospective
employers are finding it necessary to verify information pertaining to new
recruits in light of studies that reflect a high number of jobseekers lie on
their résumés to land jobs. In
short, employers are finding it more challenging to take job candidates at face
What does a person’s credit
history and criminal record have to do with work performance?
Employers are dumping large amounts of money into new employees relevant
to the initial hiring phase and on-going training needed to keep up with certain
technologies. Verifying the
stability or overall value of its “investment,” a number of companies will
perform these checks, just like an investor would examine buying stock in a
particular company. Such practices
are covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act relevant to background
Did you sign a waiver giving the
employer permission to proceed? Employers,
by law, cannot conduct background checks without permission.
A signed authorization, reflecting the candidate’s approval for the
release of certain information, must be on file at the time the hiring company
conducts the search. Based on your
question, it appears this employer was fishing for information and therefore
bypassed the authorization portion of the process. If faced with this situation again, you have two options:
answer the inquiry much like you did or provide a vague answer and let the
employer learn about your situation through official channels.
been on several interviews, and I haven’t landed a job yet.
Can you tell me what’s wrong with my résumé?” —
Markie Z., Portland, OR
Since you’ve gone on several
interviews your résumé isn’t the problem, it’s your interviewing skills.
Interviews are nothing more than meet and greet sessions to ask questions
and discuss a possible merger between the two parties.
Your résumé served as the
“introducer” that got your foot in the door to the interview.
Since you’ve been invited through many office doors, the focus now
shifts to what is happening while you’re in the room.
A number of variables can cause
an interview to go sour: appearance, attitude, and scope of answers.
If you want to know exactly what the problem is, ask a friend or family
member who can be candid with you. People
who aren’t afraid to speak what’s on the top of their minds are the best
ones to contact when you need honest answers.
The interviewer wouldn’t have
brought you into an interview unless you were qualified for the position. It’s likely that something happened or possibly something
crucial wasn’t said during the meeting to sway the interviewer in your
trying to add pizzazz to the answers I give during an interview.
Do you have suggestions?” —
Zee B., Cleveland, OH
If your résumé is crafted
correctly, it can serve as a great reference sheet during the interview process. Selectively pulling key points from the content that reflect
your ability to solve issues, cut costs, and increase revenue can certainly
transform mundane answers. Be
careful not to recite words verbatim from the résumé because your answers
should be unique and accentuate the paperwork the interviewer has already
reviewed, not be a verbal commentary of it.
Preparing your answers several
days before the scheduled interview will help you formulate answers to varying
questions. Create canned answers,
but make them unique — and avoid sounding rehearsed.
a couple of days away from facing multiple interviewers for an engineering
management position. This is going to be a first for me, since I’ve partaken in
one-on-one interview sessions only. What
should I expect?” —
Nellie H., St. Louis, MO
Interviews can have two or more
company reps in attendance, ranging from department supervisors and managers to
executive personnel and owners. These
group-style interviews can be beneficial for both sides because it eliminates
the need for individual interviews with each person who is part of the hiring
team. Think of the process as
“speed interviewing.” The forum
also enables members of the interviewing team to later discuss candidates and
make a hiring decision based on a collaborative analysis.
Like one-on-one interviews, group sessions can get off track and make it
challenging on whom to focus your answers on: the individual asking the question
or everyone in the room. Focus your
answers towards the person asking them, and connect eyes with all persons while
speaking so each person in the room feels a part of the conversation.
Practice for a group interviewing session much like you’d prepare for
any type of interview. Forecast
topics of interest to the interviewers, and prepare thorough answers.
“What’s the proper way of
handling that pesky weakness question?” —
Ronnie N., Chicago, IL
Interviewers are clued to the
fact that candidates dodge this question by providing strengths instead of
weaknesses, so the best way to answer this question is by providing a fixable
weakness; one easily transformed after action on your part.
Example: Resolve the inability to
use particular software by volunteering to take a software class at a local
community college or technical center in the evening.
a recent interview, I nearly fell asleep. The
interviewer went on and on about the company, the position, and the overall
goals of the department. I think he
spoke one long sentence that took 20 minutes to finish … and I don’t believe
he took one breath during that time. When
I left his office, I thought I was a shoe-in because if the company would hire
him, they would surely hire me. It’s
been three weeks, and I haven’t heard a thing.” —
Madison B., Amarillo, TX
Interviewers are sometimes
inexperienced and nervous so they perform many of the same blunders that
interviewees do. Was the interview
for a lead position? It would have been a great time for you to display your
ability to take an ineffective situation and turn it around.
Conversations can become lopsided. Even
though the interviewer should have recognized that, next time step in with a
number of questions or comments. It
should be a two-sided conversation; not have the elements of a seminar.
Since the interviewer
continuously spoke during your meeting, it’s an indication that he was trying
the “sell” the company to you rather than the other way around.
Generally, candidates are the ones selling themselves to the company in
order to land the job.
Instances when the company is
small and there may not be substantial employee turnover, an interviewer can
poorly handle interviews. He is
likely looking for another “family member” to bring aboard instead of hiring
the most qualified person for the job.
I suggest cutting him some slack.
I’ll agree, it wasn’t the most optimal situation but it was an
experience for you. Since it’s
only been three weeks, consider sending a small note or possibly calling him to
discuss the interview. If the
interviewer is on the fencepost about making a decision, something as small as a
phone message or email could change that for you.
recently interviewed for a non-profit position and was thrown aback when asked
if I considered myself a thrifty person … I’ve never been asked that
before.” — Sherrie
G., St. Marys, PA
It takes a unique type of person
with a certain mindset to work for a non-profit group because money is always
tight. If several non-profit
directors were pooled and let loose on our government, they’d show us how it
could be run using a fraction of the money currently allocated.
Stretching dollars (to go beyond what everyday people believe is not
humanly possible) is what non-profit professionals do on a daily basis.
Asking how thrifty you are with
personal funds was probably a way to gauge how thrifty you’d be while on the
job. Frugal shoppers, bargain
hunters, and coupon clippers are people who can produce the same results with
less money; a characteristic that was probably important to the person who
Send a note to the person who
interviewed you, indicating that you’ve had time to reconsider his question.
Provide him with examples of how you saved considerable amounts of money
in your personal life and see if that has any effect.
It’s worth a shot, don’t you agree?
Answers provided by Teena Rose of
Resume to Referral. The above advice is
provided as a courtesy and does not constitute as absolute advice for
everyone. Seek the assist of a career professional who can review,
evaluate, and advise you based upon your situation.