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Interacting with a company during a hiring process

Updated: 6 days ago

What constitutes excessive communication beyond the formal interview stages? When is it appropriate to send a follow-up message to avoid appearing overly eager? Is it permissible to network with company employees during the interview process? These questions and more led to the creation of this article, which aims to guide job applicants on effective engagement with potential employers during the recruitment phase.

To provide insights, we've collaborated with the brilliant Kim Schütze, Head of People and Culture at FTAPI. Drawing on Kim’s expertise, we present practical advice for maintaining meaningful communication with a company without overwhelming either party. In a competitive job market, minor tweaks as discussed in this



piece can significantly boost your visibility among hiring teams.

 

What do we mean by ‘interact’ exactly?

Before delving into the tactics, let's reflect on the term 'interact.' Throughout the hiring process, from scheduling interviews to engaging with the hiring team, interaction occurs naturally. However, as Kim points out, an innate desire exists within us to feel valued and special, a sentiment shared by companies as well.

Therefore, interaction transcends mere procedural steps, encompassing the finer gestures that demonstrate a sincere interest in understanding and learning more about the company. Employing the strategies we're about to discuss not only positions you more positively in the eyes of the hiring team but also facilitates your decision-making process. With a deeper insight gained, you'll be better equipped to assess whether the organisation aligns with where you envision your future.

 

Resume and Cover Letter

Starting with the basics, your resume often serves as the initial genuine point of contact with a company, unless you've previously interacted with them at an event. Kim explained the importance of ensuring a fundamental compatibility between your profile and the job you're applying for, stressing the need for alignment not just in skills but also in cultural.

Kim advises tailoring your resume to reflect the company's language and values, but only if these genuinely resonate with your own beliefs, ensuring the presentation feels natural. This approach fosters a natural rapport between you and the organisation, increasing the likelihood they'll be eager to initiate the hiring process with you.

 

If you decide to include a cover letter—and this is not necessarily a for or against doing so—then steer clear of generic content and greetings. Companies appreciate when candidates show a real interest in them, so beginning your letter with "To whom it may concern" is not the most effective way to start a positive relationship.

A brief look on LinkedIn or the company's career page often reveals the name of an HR Manager or Recruiter you can address your letter to. In less ideal scenarios, addressing it to the CEO, whose name is typically accessible, is a viable alternative.

Kim also suggested the use of generative text tools to aid in the drafting of cover letters. However, the key is to use these tools as a preliminary step, not a crutch. Generate an initial draft, then personalise and refine it in your own voice for the final version.

 

Probing Questions

In many interviews I've conducted for the blog, the importance of asking questions has been a recurring theme.

Kim pointed out that presenting thought-provoking questions to the interviewer can leave a lasting impression, even if you're not particularly interested in the position for the long haul. This approach could make the difference in being remembered for a future role that better matches your interests within the company or, if the interviewer themselves move on, for opportunities elsewhere.

Essentially, it's unpredictable when your paths might intersect again with individuals from the interview process. By engaging actively and thoughtfully in your discussions, you can create a positive and lasting impression that may benefit your career down the line.

Kim advises that if you're uncertain about what to ask, consider what you don't yet know about the team, the project, and the company's strategy. We encourage candidates to probe into areas that might not be readily disclosed unless specifically inquired about.

 

Between Rounds

Now that we've covered the basics, it's time to delve into strategies that may be less traditional yet can prove beneficial when applied appropriately. Kim recommends that between interview rounds, candidates should consider connecting with the interviewer on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

If you're not already connected, simply send a request with a brief message expressing your desire to keep in touch. This strategy not only expands your professional network but also helps in reinforcing your name alongside your application, potentially eliciting a response.

Moreover, if your profile is current and includes links to other platforms like GitHub, it encourages the interviewer to learn more about you which can only help your application.

 

Authentic Gestures

Genuine efforts are highly impactful. Firstly, sending a follow-up after an interview to share what resonated with you during the discussion is a great way to maintain a professional relationship while reminding the hiring team of your keen interest. Kim suggests taking this a step further by recommending resources or materials that might benefit the organisation, based on insights gained during the interview. An example we would recommend would be if during your conversation with an early-stage startup, they mention their search for both new hires and investors, and you happen to know of an investment firm that could be a good fit, sharing this information can leave a positive impression, even if they're already familiar with the firm. Your genuine recommendation underscores your interest and thoughtfulness.

 

Similarly, offering to make introductions to others in your network can be valuable. If a position doesn't seem like the right fit for you, expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the role, explaining why you're choosing not to move forward, and suggesting someone else who might be a better fit, can foster goodwill. This gesture often comes full circle, with the favour returned in the future.

 

Although just two examples. Hopefully they illustrate ways to follow up authentically without the interaction feeling like an obligation or a forced conversation.

 

Understanding More

Some companies are thorough, revealing every detail, while others might omit information, intentionally or by oversight. Kim explained that at any point during the hiring process, if you find yourself needing more details on a particular topic to make a well-informed decision, don't hesitate to ask the team for more information.

If you have an interview scheduled, Kim suggests communicating your questions in advance so the team can address them during your meeting. However, if the interview process has ended and you realise you need additional clarification, it's perfectly acceptable to request a follow-up discussion.

This approach not only enhances your understanding, aiding in your decision-making, but it also demonstrates to the hiring team your proactive interest in learning more. The questions you pose can also provide them with insight into what you value.

 

Stay Close

Embarking on a job application process typically starts with the aim of securing a particular position; otherwise, applying wouldn't make much sense. Yet, as we all know, circumstances can change. You might find yourself drawn to different opportunities that progress more rapidly and lead to a job offer, decide to remain in your current role, or even have to put your job search on hold due to unexpected personal reasons, like falling ill.

Life's unpredictability is a well-understood aspect of the hiring process. The way you communicate your situation to the hiring team during these times can significantly influence your professional reputation and future opportunities.

Kim recommends that whether you're pausing your job search, withdrawing your application, or needing to reschedule an interview, it's crucial to inform the hiring team as promptly as possible. This allows them to make necessary adjustments and shows respect for their time and effort.

Notifying the team of your change in circumstances is a practice that stands out, primarily because it's not something many candidates do. As mentioned previously, the relationships you form now might intersect with your career path later on, making every interaction meaningful.

Kim acknowledges, and so do we, that not all companies provide feedback after rejecting a candidate. This raises the question: why should you take the time to inform every company of your decision to withdraw? The answer lies in fostering a culture of responsibility and transparency. By consistently communicating your intentions, you contribute to setting a standard of professional courtesy, which, over time, will distinguish companies that value candidate experience from those that do not.

A brief message to your recruitment contact is all it takes to maintain good relations and uphold a standard of professional integrity.

Interactions with potential employers can vary widely, ranging from sending a sincere thank-you note to requesting additional meetings for a deeper understanding. The key is maintaining communication with the hiring team beyond just coordinating interviews. This approach not only helps build stronger relationships but also demonstrates your genuine interest in the company. In turn, this could lead to a more favourable result for your application.

A big thank you to Kim for supporting this article and for bringing the topic up during our initial discussion. An area we hadn’t probed too much into before but certainly glad we have now.

If like us you feel someone else could benefit from this knowledge then please feel free to share this article with the wide community so we can collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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