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Didn’t Land The Job? Your Interview Could Still Be Far From Over

I recently heard an anecdote about a fortuitous hire that’s paid long-term dividends. About a decade ago, a mid-sized company in Alberta had narrowed its candidates for an open position down to two people who were evenly matched. Both had stellar resumes and recommendations, and each had made great impressions during the interview process. The choice ultimately came down to a vote that split two-to-one in favour of one over the other.

Back view at african-american applicant waiting for job interview result

Unfortunately, they chose poorly.

The new hire didn’t fit with the team and their work style just didn’t align with the way the company operated. It was an honest mistake, but the employee was let go before their probationary period ended. Instead of going through the entire process again, the team decided to reach out to the second candidate who, miraculously, was still available. She was hired and has steadily moved up the ranks over the past 10 years.

All too often candidates view the hiring process as successful only if they land the job.

When I think of that story, I can’t help but realize how unlikely it was that both parties would end up happy in that situation. The company had obviously built a smart process that allowed them to bring in the other frontrunner without re-instigating an arduous process for that candidate. And the candidate obviously had enough sense to realize that just because the company made the wrong choice didn’t mean it wasn’t the right place to work. Both sides benefited from understanding the hiring process as a process, not as an end result.

All too often candidates view the hiring process as successful only if they land the job. On the other side, businesses only view the process from their perspective. By taking some time to view the process from the other side’s perspective, we can make the experience better for everyone.

Employees: Don’t let pride get in your way

It’s a tough pill to swallow when someone else is chosen over you. We take pride in our professional accomplishments and can sometimes take rejection to heart. However, we really don’t know what was happening behind the scenes that led to the company’s ultimate decision. Maybe you weren’t the right cultural fit. Maybe they flipped a coin because you were both so qualified! Whatever the ultimate reason, it’s best to not to take it personally.

As evidenced by the story above, putting pride aside can lead to a great outcome. While you want to avoid a company that provides a legitimately bad experience, being able to assess the process without regard for outcome is a valuable skill. Something to keep in mind: if you’re angry you weren’t chosen for a position, this can be chalked up to pride. If you’re disappointed, it’s likely because you truly wanted to join that organization.

Businesswoman using laptop and texting with cell phone in conference room

Employees: Keep in touch

If you think you were a good fit for the job and the company, let them know. A quick email to the hiring manager thanking them for the opportunity and expressing your continued desire to join their team can make a lasting impression.

Keeping in touch isn’t restricted to the hiring manager. Reaching out to HR and anyone else you met with can help to ensure that when a similar position opens up, your resume will head to the top of the pile.

Employers: Employees are expensive, but not having an employee is more expensive

When filling an open position, how many times has your company interviewed someone that had gone through your hiring process before? How many times has your company interviewed someone who had made it to the final stage? If your answer is never or very rarely, it’s time to review your policies and procedures and improve your overall candidate experience. Candidates that made it through the initial screening processes are an excellent pool of ready-made interview prospects. You should do whatever you can to draw them back (or at least not scare them away).

A bad experience can drive away potential future employees, raising the cost of hiring.

Finding employees is expensive. The cost of bringing on a new employee, from job posting to day one, is difficult to pin down, but some estimates place it at 150 per cent of an employee’s salary. The longer a position goes unfilled, the more expensive it is. Yet, how frequently do hiring managers or HR professionals actually review the experience that a candidate has when applying for a position? Not enough. A bad experience can drive away potential future employees, raising the cost of hiring, not to mention the negative impact on your brand overall.

Employers: Talk to your employees

The first step to improving your hiring process is to speak with recent hires to get a sense of their experience. A short, simple survey that they can fill out in their first week (before they’re loaded up with work!) can help you identify any pain points in the process. Maybe the website application function is a nightmare; maybe you conduct three interviews when one could have sufficed. Whatever it is, fix it. You want applicants’ first impression to excite them, not send them running for the hills.

These small actions can pay big dividends. Your dream career or ideal candidate may have been closer than you thought. All it takes is a bit of perspective to see it.

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NAFTA Negotiations: Round 2 Of Talks Set To Begin In Mexico

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, shakes hands with Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, accompanied by Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, after they spoke at a news conference on Aug. 16, 2017, at the start of NAFTA renegotiations in Washington, D.C.

MEXICO CITY — A second round of NAFTA negotiations gets underway Friday in a country that has long served as Donald Trump’s political whipping boy. Increasingly, there are indications Mexico is willing to whip back.

After quietly, calmly working with Trump, the centrist governing party has declared a red line: if the president starts to withdraw from NAFTA as he’s threatening, the Enrique Pena Nieto government says it’s leaving the negotiating table.

Its domestic critics want more.

Trump’s unpopularity in Mexico practically defies the laws of political science. A Pew survey puts his support here just north of the margin of error for zero, with a mere five per cent of Mexicans expressing confidence in the U.S. president.

With an election looming next year, lots of politicians are pining to counter-punch. That includes a famous left-wing lawmaker touted as a possible recruit for the new party that’s leading presidential polls.

There’s a picture of revolutionary fighter Emiliano Zapata hanging on Dolores Padierna’s office wall. She lauds him as the hero of a generations-long, unfinished battle for labour rights and higher wages, which haven’t risen under NAFTA.

The Senate leader of the old left-wing party, the PRD, would respond to Trump’s threats to pull out of NAFTA by pulling out first.

“It’s an embarrassment,” Padierna said in an interview in Spanish.

“When Donald Trump and (U.S. trade czar) Robert Lighthizer — or however you pronounce his name — mistreat, offend our country, we have a government that is very docile, that does not know how to defend the dignity and sovereignty of Mexico.”

Padierna wants to see a NAFTA with stronger labour standards, unionization rights and worker mobility. But barring that, she says, she’d rather see Mexico plan for a future with new trading partners to take up some U.S. slack.

‘Respond with fire’

The impulse to fight extends beyond leftist trade-skeptics.

One Mexican diplomat referred to Trump as a “fool” and a “Nazi moron” on his personal Twitter page this week. And on Thursday, recent Mexican ambassador to China, Jorge Guajardo, tweeted, “People in (the) U.S. aren’t considering… how little political appetite there is in Mexico to partner (with) Trump’s U.S.A.”

A plane filled with Mexican businessman was grounded by bad weather this week while returning from the U.S. During the ensuing impromptu midnight dinner at a rain-soaked taco stand near Leon, Mex., talk turned to how best to handle Trump.

“Respond with fire,” said one businessman. The other cupped his hands in a crude, universally recognized gesture, suggesting the Mexican government needed to grow some testosterone.

On Friday, American negotiators will see numerous unflattering Mexican newspaper headlines about their president. In the news this week are Trump’s NAFTA warnings, ramped-up deportations, pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and threatened government shutdown to fund his border wall.

An opinion piece Wednesday in the regional newspaper in Leon was headlined: “Trump, Arpaio and dogs.” On Thursday, the national newspaper El Universal also ran a column on Arpaio, titled: “Exoneration of racism — another Trump policy.”

One syndicated columnist suggested Trump was merely bluffing in threats to cancel NAFTA. But he wants Mexico to fight back.

“The only way to unmask this bluff is to be ready to terminate,” Sergio Sarmiento wrote in his regular column. “Otherwise, the bully will impose his conditions.”

One Mexico-watcher says the government has done well.

Duncan Wood says Pena Nieto’s team has skillfully juggled various roles since Trump took office Jan. 20, staying constructive but firm. He cited a recent statement in which Mexico said it wouldn’t pay for a wall; described fighting drug-trafficking as a shared duty; said it would not negotiate NAFTA through the media; and offered neighbourly help for flood-stricken Texas.

“The Mexican president and Mexican government have been very effective,” said Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at Washington, D.C.’s Wilson Center.

“They’ve learned how to handle the inevitable tweet or inflammatory statement from the U.S. president…. The government is drawing red lines so that Mexico is respected. And it’s saying, ‘By the way, we’re here to help.'”

The only way to unmask this bluff is to be ready to terminate.

As for the Mexican public, Wood summed up their attitude as: “‘Look, we’re not against the American people — we just don’t like Donald Trump. We’re not anti-American. We’re anti-Trump.'”

As for the likely election winner, while surveys currently show the new left-wing Morena party, led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in first place, Wood cites a variety of reasons why the polls are likely to tighten.

He believes constructive dialogue can prevail, NAFTA can survive, and politicians can get elected here without bashing Trump.

But lingering hostilities are making it more difficult, he said, for the current government to agree to a NAFTA deal, and get the necessary ratification votes in Congress: “It makes it a lot more complicated.”