Job seekers face stiff scrutiny for scarce jobs

Of all the demands placed on job seekers today, the most difficult hoop to jump through may be the interview process itself. Being vetted for a cabinet position may be easier.

Jenny Nowak, a practice manager with Workbridge Associates in San Jose, a firm that specializes in technical recruiting, told SFBay:

“While we’re seeing companies do more hiring, the process is more complex because they’re interested in hiring the ideal candidate. Businesses are doing phone call screenings and multiple rounds of interviews.  But really, this is not the way you want to hire.”

Nowak leads a recruiting team at her agency and says companies need to streamline their hiring process.

Instead of looking for the “perfect” prospective employee, firms should conduct an onsite interview to determine of the person is a good fit for the company’s culture, whether that person meshes with the manager and what level of enthusiasm that person brings to the job.

In fact, Nowak said companies should avoid hiring the seemingly flawless applicant, or “the perfect unicorn,” as it’s known in the recruiting industry:

“The best employee isn’t the one who has all the bells and whistles and all of the desired skills.  It’s the person who is going to be challenged by the job and is willing to learn new things. If someone has so much experience that he can easily do the job, that person is going to get bored after three to four months and will soon be looking around for another position elsewhere.”

Dave Westcott, a Los Gatos engineer who has been seeking employment for the past nine months, told SFBay he dislikes being interviewed for a job over the phone:

“It’s so impersonal and you can’t get a good feel for the organization.  The person talking to you over the phone doesn’t really care about the company – they’re just asking you a bunch of standard questions.  I want to meet with someone face-to-face so that I can determine if the company is a good fit for me.”

Westcott, 61, says he prefers being interviewed the way companies did it 10-20 years ago:

“You would meet with one person, usually the hiring manager, he would ask you a few questions and then you received a response in a day or two.  Now, you meet with many people and you don’t hear anything for weeks, if at all.”

As someone re-entering the job market in his sixties, Westcott feels his age may be a hiring barrier. A research study conducted by Boston College recently dubbed job seekers over the age of 50 as being the “new unemployables.”

But Nowak disagrees:

“I don’t see being over 50 as labeling you as ‘unemployable.’  Continuing to learn and staying impassioned is extremely important for people in this age bracket.  This market is constantly changing and you have to stay relevant and keep up with new methods.”

As far as the time-consuming interview procedure is concerned, Nowak says that prospective job candidates should not get discouraged, and to remember that the hiring company has to promote a positive image as well:

“The process has definitely become longer and more complicated, but interviewing is still the best or worst form of free advertising you can have for your company.  After the interview, you want people to walk away feeling really impressed.”