Q. I am very interested in joining a small consulting company. I was introduced to the staff through a networking contact and had a great initial meeting with a consultant. After that, they asked me back for informal meetings with a few different people. They are all great and they seem to like me too. I know they have a real opening, but I haven’t been asked to interview for the position yet. What are my next steps? I don’t want to be too pushy, but I don’t want to lose what I think could be a great opportunity.
A. So far so good! Discovering opportunity through your network is exactly what job seekers hope for. Your network led you to what seems to be a good match and there is a great deal for you to do at this stage. Many people might describe meetings as informal, but meeting people you want to work with who might want to work with you, is anything but informal. Interviewing is a process of getting to know someone, the skills they have and their experience. It is also an opportunity to learn what an organization is looking for in terms of skills, style, and strengths needed for success on the job. Interviews do not necessarily need to start with formal invitations or use the question and answer format.
Your “interview” started with the introduction you received from your networking contact. That person described you; your skill set, and in their encouragement to meet, probably suggested some areas of professional interest for their contacts to explore. In each interaction you have had so far, you have been assessed for the position they are hiring for. Each participant in the interview process most likely has a list of criteria they have for the new hire and in their meetings with you, are looking for examples or demonstrations of these criteria. So, now you know you have been interviewing and you know you have not answered the most important questions they never asked.
Not every interviewer can provide candidates with a good interview, and as a result, great candidates need to over-prepare. Most people will prepare a list of the questions they anticipate being asked and they will prepare answers to these questions. They will also prepare a list of questions they want to ask. These preparations are all valuable, but where good candidates stop preparing, great candidates continue. Regardless of the questions asked, great candidates prepare a list of the messages they need to get across. Have you learned how they would describe the successful candidate? If you know what you would like to be asked in a formal interview, you know what you’ll discuss regardless of what gets asked or doesn’t. Are there examples of work you have done that you can discuss so the hiring organization can see how you would be successful on the job?
You have been interviewing, and now you have the opportunity to demonstrate the behaviors of a successful member of a small consulting company. So, take the initiative to arrange a next meeting. Discuss your sincere and significant interest in their organization and make sure you are prepared to convey the information which will make them see the best option there is – making you an offer.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.