Advice

Communication Etiquette

February 17, 2013
 If it’s worth saying, it ought to be well said and well read.
Have you ever picked up the phone or opened an email and wondered, 

-  Who is this?

-  Which company/project/meeting are we talking about?

-  Am I being asked to do or deliver something here?

-  What’s the timeframe or deadline on this?

or some such question. And have you, at the same time, been recoiling a bit, as if to ask, Why are you taking that tone with me? Those perplexing messages understandably come from our hurried and zealous colleagues. 
 
 
 
Every professional communiqué contains a valuable message, and our focus should (in the interest of efficient progress) necessarily be on contextualizing the message with clarity and courtesy. 

This tactic full-well applies to correspondence of the 140-character variety, to instant messages, texts (not so distinct from telegraphs), meeting presentations, phone calls and everything in between—or as we like to say in the digital publishing industry, “in any media available now or created in the future.”

Context 
Take care to contextualize the message; include enough information for your colleague to work with. With variations for each format, context is a happy medium between incomplete and comprehensive.
 
Give your colleague the information she needs to usefully respond to you or follow-through with the task.
 
 
Clarity
Deliver your message clearly. Spell things out—literally and figuratively. Acronyms and abbreviations are nice time savers, but the occasional use of complete expressions reinforces meaning and everyone’s recognition of the term or organization. 
 
Share the specifics that you have and propose a time frame and next step even if these aren’t urgent matters. 
 
Courtesy
Courtesy extends beyond simply the “please” and “thank you” of a salutation and closing. It’s an opportunity to provide further context and frame the conversation in a productive way. 
 
Respectfully open up the conversation to allow for feedback and further questions from your colleague. 
 
*  *  *
 
 
Efficient communication protocols can be contagious! People often mirror body language, presentation style and messaging structure back to you. So by sharing your messages in context with clarity and courtesy, you might just reinvigorate your team’s communication strategy. 
 
Each instance of professional communication should preserve enough of the elements of a formal business letter to make your message understandable and welcome. The Emily Post Institute has advice on writing that classic measured and polite letter here: Effective Business Letters
 
Wondering if your phone manner could use a refresh? Read Proper Phone Identification
 
And if you’re looking to dash off more successful emails, here are some tips for just that: Writing Effective Emails
Posted by: 
Deanna Utroske
Tags: 

Do Less: Seventh Inning Stretch

January 24, 2013

“Do Less to Do More” is the title of a blog post I read recently. It piqued my interest –specifically, the words “do less.” It’s an interesting concept that doing less might actually bring us greater results.

Studies show that women are increasingly affected by their busy lifestyles and are suffering from stress-related illnesses. Doing less sounds like a wonderful idea; however, it often feels like a distant dream. Many women, such as myself, often have multiple responsibilities, people to care for, children to take care of, career obligations and more. You may ask yourself the question, with all of my obligations to family, friends and colleagues, how might I possibly do less?

Sometimes we simply need a “seventh inning stretch.” For those familiar with baseball, this term is very familiar. But if you’ve never attended a baseball game, allow me to share Wikipedia’s definition of “seventh inning stretch.”

• It’s a tradition that takes place between the halves of the seventh inning of a game – in the middle of the seventh inning
• Fans generally stand up and stretch out their arms and legs
• Fans often walk around during the seventh inning stretch
• It’s a popular time to get a late game snack
• The seventh inning stretch is also a time for the players to get a break

Once the seventh inning stretch is over, fans return to their seats replenished and refreshed, and players, after receiving the opportunity to regroup, return to the field rejuvenated with renewed energy and often a revised strategy to win the game.

Maybe it’s time for us, “busy women,” to take a seventh inning stretch. No matter how tense the situation, or how late it is in the day, count on a seventh inning stretch. Maybe we should take a break from our hectic schedules, our stressful jobs and other obligations so that we can stretch out our arms and legs, refuel our bodies with healthy eating habits and exercise or simply be still. I have gone to baseball games where teams were losing badly; however, after the seventh inning stretch, the players returned to the field with new strategy, different players and a goal to win… and won! 

If we take the time to consistently take a seventh inning stretch, we might see greater results by doing less. Include that much-needed break in all aspects of your life, family, career, school and personal endeavors. Schedule a seventh inning stretch, commit to doing less for a period of time so that you can try something new, refuel, recharge... and win!

 

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

Social Media Resolutions for the New Year!

December 26, 2012

Are you making a list of New Year Resolutions? It might be a great idea to take a look at your social networks and add a few resolutions that will make time spent on social media more effective.

Here are a few social media resolutions to consider:

1. Re-evaluate your social media goals.
Have a long-term and short-term goal. With social media constantly evolving, it might be a good idea to evaluate your goals every three months.

2. Take advantage of the latest features on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
Twitter now allows you to view and download every single tweet you've ever sent. According to Twitter, everyone will have access to this feature in the coming weeks.

3. Spice up your e-Newsletter.
Add video messages and eye-catching graphics in your e-newsletters. 

4. Use photo-sharing websites such as Pinterest and Instagram to highlight products, customers & special events.
Pinterest is a great way to promote products and share your interests with others.

5. Take advantage of content curation tools such as Storify, Pinterest, Delicious and Google Reader.
Content curation is the process by which you can sort through all of the vast content on the web and organize the content around a specific theme or topic. Use content curation tools to brand your message effectively to your target audience.

6. Join or start a Google+ community or Twitter chat.
Connect with others that share similar interests. Set a networking goal and meet at least 3 new people a week via social networks.

7. Use Slideshare for PowerPoint presentations.
Slideshare allows users to keep PowerPoint presentations in one location. Users are provided with a custom url link for their slideshare page.

8. Schedule social media into your day.
The worst thing you can do you is set up a social media account and not use it. Schedule time to post quality content, meet people and participate in online discussions.

9. Go Mobile.
Mobile web usage is increasing. A recent study shows that that mobile sales have become bigger than PC sales. Optimize your website for mobile phone users.

10. Focus on social media platforms that work best for you.
Choose quality over quantity. Identify the social media platforms that give the best results and focus your attention on building brand awareness on that particular network. 

Don’t be afraid to start small. If you’re new to social media, it’s ok to focus on one social network at a time. If you prefer Facebook, then devote your time to building your audience on that platform. If Twitter is your network of choice, then commit to building and strengthening relationships in the Twitterverse.

Set realistic resolutions that are attainable. Set social media goals and implement a strategy that will help you reach your goal.

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

Talking to Shel Holtz about Enterprise Social Media, Part 7

December 16, 2012

This is part seven of my series on enterprise social media, featuring a recent conversation with Shel Holtz. Today’s post concludes the series, taking a look at where enterprise social media (ESM) might be headed in the future.

At its core, ESM is a collaborative tool that allows employees to share information and bounce ideas off of each other. It is a social technology platform that builds strong knowledge connections between employees. 

Shel recalled that a study conducted by Aberdeen a few years ago found that employees who have access to internal social networking are more engaged than employees who don’t. In addition, companies that offer internal social networking achieve best-in-class status to a greater degree than companies that don’t offer it. Shel added: “There’s not a CEO alive who doesn’t want more engaged employees, because the connection has been made between high levels of engagement and market share growth.”

The connection between engaged employees and business growth has been documented extensively in the McKinsey Quarterly reports on enterprise social media. The reports are part of a longitudinal study that concludes ESM is effective because it facilitates everything from faster access to subject matter experts to faster cycle time on projects between employees.

Internal social networking produces better marketing for the customer and innovative products and services. In addition, McKinsey’s study has found that fully networked organizations in which employees are networked internally and externally — meaning that employees can have contact with customers — are taking market share away from competitors. In their most recent report, McKinsey recommends experimentation: “…Instead of focusing on best practices in the early stages of the journey, executives should be open to discovering next practices.”

In the future, Shel thinks ESM is heading towards tighter integration throughout all enterprise networks. Today, ESM in most companies is its own distinct bucket, separate from the rest of the intranet. Shel gave the example of landing on a company’s Finance page, being able to access the Finance community from there, then accessing the profiles of the members of the Finance team and directing a question via Chatter or Yammer or some other Twitter clone for the enterprise to that community. Shel added: “Rather than being on a policy or forms page and then having to leave that part of the intranet and go over to the social network, it’s going to be more tightly integrated so that you have access to the community right along with all the other resources that you can find on those enterprise networks.”

In conclusion, Shel emphasized that incorporating ESM as part of employees’ daily routine is the best way to lay the groundwork for widespread adoption.

 

Shel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. Shel's expertise includes strategic communications planning, change management, organizational culture, business initiatives and communications research.

 

Further reading and resources

Aberdeen Social Enterprise Network 

McKinsey Quarterly Reports

Series Part one: How the use of free platforms like Facebook's closed groups expand the definition of enterprise social media

Series Part two: How the bulletin board, one of enterprise social media’s predecessors, enabled collaboration like the established networking capabilities of companies like IBM and Dell today

Series Part three: The issue of productivity and social media

Series Part four: The value of Facebook in strengthening business and working relationships

Series Part five: Enterprise blogs

Series Part six: The deployment of social media platforms

 

 

Posted by: 
Giuliana Lonigro

Conscientiously Committed

December 9, 2012
Choose your commitments wisely, because if you’re overcommitted ain’t no one happy!  Personal and professional responsibilities proliferate in our digital, social, career, and household environments. 
 
You know what over-commitment is. And, you know how to prevent it—say “NO,” delegate as needed, take care of yourself first and enjoy the support of your friends and peers.
 
 
 
What’s imperative is that we acknowledge that over-commitment isn’t a badge of achievement. Over-commitment is the glass wall between you and a successful, well-lived life. And, it’s important to recognize as well that the tools we have to prevent over-commitment are both long-range strategies and tactics we can use today. Enjoying the support of your friends and peers can, for instance, be momentary or entail a weeklong retreat. 
 

A friend of mine likes to place “post-card” phone calls to her support network. She opens by mentioning that it’s simply a three-minute call to say “hi.” These calls keep the channels of communication open, make for an energizing moment in the day, and infuse a bit of spontaneity into everyone’s schedule.   
 
***
 
 
 
 
“I’ve learned to say no to those things I’m not passionate about, and I’ve minimized time spent with people who drain me. I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who believe in me and support my efforts, and I’ve made time to nurture and rejuvenate myself…” writes Monique Greenwood former EIC of Essence magazine, in Having What Matters: The Black Woman’s Guide to Creating the Life You Really Want.
 
It’s valuable to discover what that means for a single project. To write Having What Matters, Monique “took a leave of absence from two community boards…hired a director of operations to keep a close eye on [her] restaurant and coffeehouse, and went away for a restorative week at the beach before tacking an outline for the book.”
 
***
 
Happy Holidays
The holiday season offers countless chances for over commitment. 
 
“Don’t immediately say yes to requests and invitations,” advises lifestyle reporter Lisa Gutierrez. In here piece Trim Holiday Stress by Just Saying No, Lisa suggests that women “focus on the things you enjoy and trim those that feel like obligations.”
 
Valuable Volunteering 
Sarah Mahoney, contributing editor for Parents,  offers strategies to “help you manage your desire to do good, so everyone benefits, including you” in her piece for Good Housekeeping magazine, How to Say "No" to Volunteering.
 
Working Wisely 
Find out How To Say No At Work from Forbes staff writer Susan Adams. Susan shares wisdom from professionals like Beth Cronin, who explains, “First, I developed a reputation as being earnest and hardworking. Then I made sure to understand what the project entailed, when my manager needed it and whether I could realistically deliver high-quality work in the allotted amount of time.”
 
Galvanized by these examples and resources, let’s resolve to stop glorifying busy, shall we?
 
 

 
Stop the glorification of busy image from Lesley Jane Seymour’s Facebook page.
 

 
 
 
 

 

Posted by: 
Deanna Utroske
Tags: 

Talking to Shel Holtz about Enterprise Social Media, Part 6

November 25, 2012

This is part six of my series on enterprise social media, featuring a recent conversation with Shel Holtz. Today’s post takes a look at the deployment of enterprise social media platforms.

A 2012 IBM study found that nearly three-quarters of respondents felt they were not prepared for the required cultural changes of newly deployed enterprise social media, and two-thirds were not sure they completely understood the impact social business would have on their organizations over the next three years.

Shel has found that many businesses deploy new technologies without also thinking about how to incorporate them into the organizational culture. In some circles this phenomenon is called "Deploy and Pray." A common scenario involves the IT department making sure that all the utilities work correctly, then an announcement is made along the lines of “here’s this new technology for you to use, Godspeed,” and everyone is left to their own devices.

A crucial first step when choosing software is to develop a requirements document based on the needs of the organization before soliciting bids from software vendors. Unfortunately in some cases, this initial groundwork is not done and purchase decisions are awarded to the low bid or to a company the organization already has a relationship with.

In an IABC study earlier this year, Toby Ward, president of Prescient Digital Media said: “Too many organizations are relying on out-of-the-box SharePoint and free, open source solutions, with little thought or execution on the needs and requirements of the organization. Technology is only one-third of the equation; a successful intranet requires two-thirds people and process.”

Shel has heard Toby tell a story about a financial company in Canada who got a contact management system for their intranet based on an existing relationship they had with a vendor. After it was installed they found out they only had five licenses so that only five people could actually contribute to it. The system did batch updating at night rather than instant updating, so anything you added to it wouldn’t show up until the next day. A series of other problems with it rendered it fundamentally useless for the communication needs of a contact management system. The company thought they were getting a bargain, but it turned out they wasted a lot of money on something they couldn’t use. To make matters worse, the company went out of business and there were no more upgrades or support.

Companies should also provide training on how to use new technologies effectively within the company culture, including when to use it and when not to. Shel adds that various training modules should be created, including promotional materials, training videos and a mentoring program for those who respond better to personal instruction. Peers who have figured out how to use the new technology can train coworkers who are still confused by it.

Hudson’s intranet training modules are a good example of how to support a technology rollout, according to Shel. Available on YouTube, Hudson’s videos explain their intranet’s social features to help employees quickly get up to speed. It’s important to reach out to employees to help them understand what is on the intranet and to illustrate how using it can make their job easier.

The next and final blog post in this series will cover where enterprise social media is headed in the future, so stay tuned!

 

Shel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. Shel's expertise includes strategic communications planning, change management, organizational culture, business initiatives and communications research.

 

Further reading and viewing

The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It's Done — IBM report

Social Intranets on the Rise, But User Satisfaction Is Still Low — Prescient press release via IABC

Sharepoint Intranet Launch at Hudson — Hudson Intranet training video

 

Series Part one: How the use of free platforms like Facebook's closed groups expand the definition of enterprise social media

Series Part two: How the bulletin board, one of enterprise social media’s predecessors, enabled collaboration like the established networking capabilities of companies like IBM and Dell today

Series Part three: The issue of productivity and social media

Series Part four: The value of Facebook in strengthening business and working relationships

Series Part five: Enterprise blogs

 

Posted by: 
Giuliana Lonigro

Give the Gift of Thanks: Fifteen Creative Ways to Thank Your Customers This Holiday Season

November 13, 2012

The holiday season is a great way to show gratitude to your customers. As thousands continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there is still so much to be thankful for – especially our customers.

Here are 15 creative ways to thank your customers this holiday season.

1. Say thank you.
A simple thank you can go a long way. There is something rewarding about hearing the words “thank you.”

2. Record a thank-you video and upload to You Tube.
It’s easy to record a video directly from your mobile device or laptop. Why not record a customized video that expresses how much you appreciate your customer and upload it your company You Tube channel for others to see.

3. Write a thank-you note
When I was a child my mother made sure that I sent thank-you notes every time I was given a gift. In this 21st century age of technology, I must admit my thank-you notes are sent via the World Wide Web. Why not send a thank-you note to your customers? It is sure to grab their attention and leave a lasting impression.

4. Give a memorable customer service experience
Customer service is key to maintaining customers. Take the time to know the wants and needs of your customers and create a memorable customer service experience that will keep them coming back.

5. Express gratitude on your company website
A simple and affordable way to show gratitude to customers is by posting a thank-you on your company website. Create a customer appreciation page on your website and highlight customers each moth.

6. Publicly thank customers on social networks
With the growth of social media it is very likely that your customers are active on social media. A great way to show gratitude is to use your company Facebook cover photo to highlight a customer or several customers. Put together a nice photo collage of your customers and upload it as your cover photo or post on Instagram.

7. Write a letter of recommendation
Don’t forget your younger customers. If you have a college-age customer, show your appreciation by offering to write them a letter of recommendation to college professors or potential employers.

8. Post a thank-you on the NYWICI Gratitude Wall
Another great way to publicly thank your customers is to post a thank-you on the New York Women In Communications Gratitude Wall. Your customer will receive an email notification alerting them of the acknowledgment.

9. Endorse a customer on LinkedIn.
Take full advantage of LinkedIn’s endorsement feature. Endorse your customers in their specific area of expertise. This will show customers that you care enough about them as a customer and respect them as a professional.

10. Reward your customers by offering discount codes or gift cards
Starbucks is great with offering customer discounts and free iTunes song downloads via their mobile APP. Take an assessment of your company and offer useful discount codes or gift cards that will keep customers coming back.

11. Fund a start-up business
Are any of your customers about to launch a start-up? Show your appreciation by offering in-kind donation or a small grant to get them started. Offer to design their logo, flyer or website at no cost. You might want to limit this option to exclusive clients.

12. Host a customer appreciation event
Invite customers to an after-hours reception. You might want to focus on loyal customers for this event. This would be a great time to introduce a new product or share exclusive content. If budget permits, give a small gift as an additional token of appreciation.

13. Create a loyalty customer program
Everyone loves a discount. I’ve personally signed up for several daily deal sites such as Living Social, Goldstar and Groupon. I love GoldStar for its Red Velvet feature, which gives customers the option to select Red Velvet Membership. With this membership I can easily cancel an event without penalty, I receive emails and newsletters before the rest of GoldStar’s members and I get the top-of-the-list seating. Implement a similar discount or membership for your customers. Such a deal is likely to keep customers loyal.

14. Donate to their favorite charity
Identify a few of your most valued customers and offer to make a donation to their favorite charity in their honor.

15. Acknowledge customers in your e-newsletter
Thank your customers in your next company e-newsletter. Include a link that highlights all of the wonderful things about you customer. Does your customer have a website? Link to their website or blog so that others can see what makes your customer so special.

How will you give the gift of thanks this holiday season?

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens
Tags: 

Professional Integration

October 27, 2012

“Being actively involved and inclusive with your colleagues and clients…Being present and collaborative.”

That’s how Kristen Kurtz, Account Supervisor at Kellen Communications, describes Professional Integration—her neatly coined term for the converse of Professional Isolation.
 
Kristen “began working from home two days a week, then after a move and a second child, working from home every day, with day trips into the office a few times a month.” 
 
Taking a lesson from Kristen’s experience and also from Rayna Katz, a freelance writer and editor, I’d say that professional integration—successful, supportive partnerships—come down to quantity, quality and style of communication.
 
A quick Google search for professional isolation turns up this definition: “professional isolation is not about distance, it is about lack of professional networks and contact.” 
 
“It can happen anywhere, whether you telecommute or work in the office. Professional isolation is when you do not engage or are not engaged by your colleagues, and work in a non-collaborative way, essentially operating in a silo. In turn, it can become a very stressful way to work,” explains Kristen. 
 
Rayna Katz used to work from home for a San Francisco-based magazine (their production team was in Iowa). In that role she “felt acutely aware of the lack of connection…[and] being totally on my own added to my stress.”
 
Rayna emphasized that professional isolation can happen in well-staffed conventional offices too. “With everyone on their computers tucked away in cubicles or offices, [one office where she worked] was sometimes as quiet as a library…The ability to see and check-in with colleagues from time to time is much better.”
 
Kristen and Rayna shared some best practices to avert and mitigate professional isolation all the while fostering professional integration:
 
  • Have face time with your colleagues and clients.
  • If telecommuting, pick up the phone instead of email. 
  • If you’re in the office, visit your colleague and have the discussion instead of email.
  • Arrange lunches and coffee meetings to connect outside of the office.
  • Be responsive and offer feedback.
  • Engage technology, like Skype or Google Chat, for a more authentic exchange.
  • Hold standing update meetings each week.
  • Collaborate between teams and groups and keep an open door policy.
  • Take breaks and go get some fresh air.
Posted by: 
Deanna Utroske

Talking to Shel Holtz about Enterprise Social Media, Part 5

October 15, 2012

This is part five of my series on enterprise social media, featuring a recent conversation with Shel Holtz. Today’s post explores enterprise blogs.

An enterprise blog is usually thought of as accessible only within the company and is written by an employee or specific group of employees. The best reason to set up an internal blog is to enhance communication and the sharing of ideas across departments and business units. Some of the most successful enterprise blogs are collaborative forums that allow for the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Enterprise bloggers and employees who take the time to comment on blog posts often become subject matter experts by virtue of their efforts.

An enterprise blog is also valuable to companies as a repository of expertise and historical knowledge even after former employees have moved on.

Many of the most popular and widely read enterprise blogs are written by top level executives. Shel explained that “An internal leadership blog creates much greater line of sight between the front line and the leadership of the organization. It humanizes an executive.”

Shel said the first example of this type of communication he heard about predated blogs. Jacques (Jac) Nasser, former CEO of Ford, used to send emails regularly to the entire company. Jac was fond of using rather colorful language and wouldn’t let the communications people review his emails before he sent them out. He said his punctuation, spelling and grammar may be bad, and he may make a mistake and say something he shouldn’t have, but he wanted his employees to know that it was really him writing the emails.

If Jac was angry, that came across; and if he was really proud of employees, that came across too. Every now and then he eschewed business matters and wrote about personal topics. For example, one of Jac’s emails was all about his daughter’s high school graduation and how thrilled and proud of her he was.

Everybody at Ford knew him as Jac, not Mr. Nasser and he was beloved even by union shop stewards. When he got an outrageous bonus one year, Jac got support from his employees because this wasn’t management getting an outrageous bonus, this was Jac. He kept them informed on a weekly basis and employees felt they knew him. In their minds he really deserved that bonus.

Today when executives like Jac communicate with employees, they are more often writing blog posts that employees can comment on. Interestingly, many company blogs are public-facing and employees often make up their biggest audience. According to Shel, several organizations maintain successful blogs. General Motors’ FastLane, Intel’s blogs (not all of them in English) and Fleishman-Hillard’s collection of blogs (“Point of View”) are a few good examples.

In conclusion, Shel believes that “Every organization should have a leader blog on the intranet, whether it’s the CEO or a team blog where various members of the leadership contribute. That direct line of sight is really critical in organizations.”

The next blog post in this series will cover the deployment of enterprise social media platforms, so stay tuned!

 

Shel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. Shel's expertise includes strategic communications planning, change management, organizational culture, business initiatives and communications research.

 

Further reading

The GM FastLane Blog – the poster child for executive blogs

GM FastLane blog

Intel blogs

Dave Senay, Fleishman-Hillard blogs

Series Part one: How the use of free platforms like Facebook's closed groups expand the definition of enterprise social media

Series Part two: How the bulletin board, one of enterprise social media’s predecessors, enabled collaboration like the established networking capabilities of companies like IBM and Dell today

Series Part three: The issue of productivity and social media

Series Part four: The value of Facebook in strengthening business and working relationships

 

Posted by: 
Giuliana Lonigro

The Best Questions to Ask on a Job Interview and Why

October 3, 2012

Many of us are familiar with the question interviewers almost always ask candidates as they wrap up their job interview – “Do you have any questions?” The worst answer you could possibly give is “no.”  An interview is a two-way street, and this is your opportunity to interview a potential employer. 

During any job search, job seekers are advised to do thorough research on the companies they’d like to work for. Reviewing a job description and perusing the company website are not necessarily indicators as to whether or not you’re a good fit for a particular company. 

The October issue of Inc. magazine highlighted “Five Questions Great Job Candidates Ask.” The questions, extracted from an article in the magazine’s August 6 issue, include:

  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 days to 90 days?
  • What are the common attributes of your top performers?
  • What are a few things that drive results for the company?

Questions such as these not only let the hiring manager know you’re ready to hit the ground running, they also help job seekers assess their ability to meet the needs of the company. By finding out what would be expected of you in the first 60-to-90 days, you give yourself time to develop a strategy and start your new job with confidence.

Similarly, getting the employer’s perspective about things that drive results for the company gives you an opportunity to directly address this in your thank you letter, which should be sent 24-hours following the interview.  That 24-hour window allows you to develop a way to articulate how you would drive results for the company and share your short and long-term goals.  Your strategy should include a road map to how you would reach your goal.

In general, the best questions to ask an interviewer are those that help you determine if the job fits in with your professional goals and career path. 

Some questions you might consider asking during an interview include:?

  • Can you describe the company culture? This question is important because it will help you identify whether or not the company is a good fit for your work style and personality.  Even if you’re qualified for the position, if the values and work environment don’t line up, it might lead to a tense experience.?
     
  • What do you look for in a qualified candidate? Depending on how the interviewer responds, you should be prepared to answer how you fit this description. To respond effectively, you must know your strengths and how they benefit the company. Is one of the requirements “strong writing skills?” If yes, refer to written and published work. It is also helpful to bring copies of work relevant to the position. 
     
  • Why is the position vacant? This is a question for the Human Resource Manager.  Ask this question to find out exactly why the position is available. If it’s a new position, this could be a sign that the organization is expanding or management identified a need that needs to be filled.  Maybe the previous employee got promoted. If that’s the case, find out what they did right.?
     
  • What are the next steps? This will give you some insight regarding the stage of the interview process. It is likely that the hiring manager will let you know where they are in the hiring process. Request a business card so that you can follow-up with a thank you note. 

As mentioned previously, the interview is a two-way conversation. While you want to do your best to articulate your skills, strength and ability to adequately do the job, it is imperative that you also understand your value to the potential employer and its mission.  

When, at the conclusion of the interview, the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?” be prepared. Do your research and ask questions relevant to the position. The interviewer wants you to ask questions, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the position, the employer and future colleagues. Remember; send a thank-you note no more than 24-hours following the interview (e-mail is acceptable) reiterating your interest in the position, as well as reasons why you’re the most qualified candidate. 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that initial job offer. Every interview is a learning experience and has the potential to make you a more viable candidate.

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens
Tags: 

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