Interviewing an Expert: Inside HR

interview-1018333_960_720Today on Profession Concession, we’re providing you with a little bit of an inside look into the mind of an HR manager. Since we typically post from the employee perspective, giving you tips and info on how to boost your career, this week we thought it might be nice to get another perspective. Cathy Fleenor is the HR Manager at Samuel Pressure Vessel Group in Lebanon, Virginia. We asked Cathy a few of our most burning questions and she was kind enough to give us the scoop. So whether you’re a job-seeker or someone looking for a few tips on hiring your next employee, read on….


As an HR manager, what is your biggest application pet peeve?  Not completing the application. Why is this a huge no-no?  An application provides more information than a resume such as why you left your last job, contact information for previous employer for references checks, and gaps in employment history.
Is there any one thing that makes an applicant an automatic “no” when you read their application or discover during an interview?  Interview: negative or demanding attitude. Can you give an example of a time you’ve encountered someone with this type of attitude?  I began an onsite interview with a candidate and before I covered the first question, he immediately starting demanding information including how many hours of OT he would get a week, what is the name of our union and when does the contract end. Very aggressive and demanding tone. The interview ended immediately.
What do you wish that job seekers knew about the interview process? How to dress appropriately (not formally) for an interview.  Candidates could do some online references as well to learn how to communicate in the process.
What Communications skills could interviewees work on?  If they will visit company websites, social media pages, etc…they can get an idea about the company which provides  an excellent opportunity to prepare some questions in advance of the interview allowing for better conversation during the interview. Plus it shows an interest in the job.
When you receive an application, how do you decide who to interview for a position?  Past employer history checks for behavioral reference guides, then depending on the job, experience.
What do you recommend interviewees wear for an interview?  Clean clothing with no tears in it. Long pants, shirts with sleeves.  Can you overdress for an interview? No, I don’t think so. It’s a personal preference in how you want to present yourself.
What is the most important question a hiring manager should always ask in an interview and why?  “Tell me about yourself”.  It is an opening line that should make the job-seeker comfortable and allows the interviewer to assess the person’s personality and possible work ethics.
What’s the most important question a job-seeker should ask in an interview and why? What is your next step in this process?  This shows your interest and can reveal if the interviewer is interested in you.
If you had to give managers hiring advice in one sentence, what would you say? Make people feel comfortable in an interview or you will not see the true candidate.
If you had to give job-seekers advice in one sentence, what would you say? Research the company that you are applying for work at so that you are somewhat familiar with it. What sort of information should job-seekers learn about a company?  An overall view of what you do. If a candidate doesn’t know what the company does., how do they know they really want to work there?
Is there anything else you’d like to say to job-seekers? How about HR professionals and hiring managers?  Job-seekers: When you arrive for an interview, you never know who is actually watching you from the time you arrive on the premises until you leave. Think about how you want to present yourself if you were on a security camera.  HR Professional and hiring managers:  The “Millennial” generation is not yesterday’s workers. They are addicted to technology so use this in your favor to keep them motivated.
What are some of the ways an interviewee can put people off outside of the interview room? The entire front of our building is glass windows which you may not see in, but we see out of. We spend money to keep our grounds clean and “well-groomed”. We see candidates walk up smoking a cigarette and flick it into the landscaping or yard just before they get to the front door.
What are some ways hiring managers can incorporate tech into the workday? Millennials grew up on laptops, internet, and iPhones.  They tend to work differently and don’t resist technology and change like a lot of “us” do. Plus with all the social media skills, they connect to people. Letting them head up a project with a group of employees that shows off their tech skills for using computer programs, phone aps, internet skills, etc…can provide challenges to them.
Any funny HR stories you could share? Had a candidate come in for an interview and as we began the process, she pulled gum out of her mouth and stuck it under her chair in my office, and said, “sorry…I forgot I had gum in my mouth”.


Thank you Cathy for your informative answers! Do you have any suggestions for job-seekers or insight into how you make your hiring decisions? Let us know in the comments!

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