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Interview tips – when to follow up my application?
My series of interview tips generally covers preparation for the interview. But what happens after you have sent in your application and before you get a response? We have all been there.
One of my interview preparation clients emailed me to ask:
“How long should I wait after sending in my application and CV to a company before making contact to check on how things have progressed regarding a decision? Or an interview”
The first bit of harsh truth and reality here is that it depends on the company and it depends how many people have applied. Processing 300 candidates can take a while – processing 1000 takes longer. Some companies have well resourced (and expensive) HR departments – some are running HR on a shoe string or the bosses are trying to recruit and do their day job(s) too.
I used to work with the head of HR at SAP in their HQ in Germany and he used to be flooded with applications every day – some in response to adverts and many unsolicited. If you add in the legal traps that companies are now faced with in HR, responding to people correctly is something that needs attention and time.
The biggest single reason for using recruitment agencies is for them to do all the hard work and for the recruiter to only check out a short list of candidates.
Of course, recruiters do not get rewarded for being adventurous or taking risks so many (lower quality) recruiters simply blank out the interesting or the out of the ordinary – which could be a big loss to the company. Box-ticking sometimes results in the short list being full of bland clones. Anyway, if you are reading this you probably have your own thought s on recruitment companies. I would love to hear them.
How long before I am invited for an interview?
If you have not heard from a company within 2 weeks, you probably have not made the first sift.
The first sift is the most brutal with 100′s or 1000′s being reduced by a paper sift to maybe 20. That is why your application MUST stand out. It must be specific, tailored to the company and have evidence rather than just claims. It must tell a compelling story about you that is different – in a good way!
You MUST have a great and well written CV, a Cover letter that is worth reading and a summary or profile at the top of the CV that is as good as a TV commercial.
This stupid line about “References on request” is guaranteed to lose you the chance to interview – unless no-one else knows about the job or no-one else wants it. Or you have discovered how to make gold from sand and are the career equivalent of SuperCandidate.
If you call within a week you will appear pushy and panicky. This might be true , but it won’t help you. Longer than 2 weeks is too long. Phoning is harder but it is better – you may actually get to the right person and you may have an opportunity to sound fun and competent and likeable. Email is your second choice. If you do email, have an email signature which includes your mobile number and reattach your CV and Cover letter. Make it easy for them.
What to do next? The best chance of getting that job is them hiring somebody who is then either fired or leaves a few weeks later. Then they are faced with going through the whole process again – an unpleasant thought for them. If a well written and friendly follow up email arrives on the day that everything has gone pear shaped for them, you may have a lucky break.
Getting Selected as a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate
Most members of the public have no idea of the work involved in becoming a parliamentary candidate. In the old days, a word in someone’s ear would result in a phone call being made to an association Chairman and things would sooner or later pretty much take their course. Those days are thankfully over.
Those who want to add the elusive, and often very temporary, initials “M.P” face more competition, more demanding selectorates and precious few new seats to apply for in 2015. With an estimated thousand plus on the candidates list, loads of new MPs who are not planning on going anywhere and the competition for seats that may actually make you an MP will be fierce.
But before that happens, you have to pass the PAB – or parliamentary assessment board. This used to be even tougher with an overnight two day version – but it is still pretty effective at identifying those who do not fulfill the very sensible list of 7 key criteria that have been set out by CCHQ. And excluding them.
Only after you have passed the PAB do you have a chance at applying for and being selected for a constituency.
Basically, you first need to apply to CCHQ – after which you will have an interview with someone from CCHQ. If you pass that, which you almost certainly will as they don’t want to alienate activists or donors yet, you will be invited to a PAB. If you pass the PAB you will be able to apply for some or any available seat – depending on whether you have a full or partial pass from CCHQ. It costs money to go on the PAB as they are self-financing. Being on the list incurs an annual cost too.
There are indirect costs too as you will be expected to earn your right to stay on the list by being very visibly active in by-elections, local elections, referenda, PCC elections, MEP elections and anything else that comes along. Which is fair enough really – if you are an activist you would be campaigning for these anyway.
Then you need to work on your CV, your social media presence and wait for an email from CCHQ announcing the seats that are now asking for applications from people on the candidates list. Of course, there are other things you could be doing…
End of Part 1…