The 3 Best Phone Interview Tips

You did it!  They were intrigued by your resume and now you have a phone interview!  Are you nervous? Don’t be! You don’t want any nervousness to come through over the phone.  Just take a deep breath and read a few tips below.

1.  Prepare: What to Do

It goes without saying that you should prepare for any type of interview, right?  But here I am, saying it.  It’s just that there’s a lot to prepare and sometimes you might forget a thing or two…or at least that’s how I am.  Having a list helps me, so I made one for you!

Prepare the meeting area

Do you have a dog that barks?  Kids that might make random noises because that’s what kids do?  A nosy coworker who will poke their head in your office “to see if everything’s alright?”  If you’re thinking of taking the call inside or outside, don’t forget to consider possible background noise.

A lot of people take phone interviews in their car, of course not on a Bluetooth and certainly not while driving.  In a car you can control the environment, and you have space for all of your stuff.  Which brings me to…

Your Stuff

Besides the obvious copy of your resume, I also suggest having a copy of the job description printed.  Review this before the interview begins so you can focus on your skills and how that will translate into the companies needs.

2. Phone Etiquette: What to Say (or Not to Say)

Phone etiquette is not as common as it once was, but I assure you the hiring manager recognizes and rewards proper etiquette.  There are three major points here:

Voicemail

Have a professional – or at least a semi-professional – outgoing message on your voicemail.  “Yo, its “insert name”, don’t leave me a message.  Just text me!” is not a proper message.  Neither is the system greeting, however I will overlook the latter before the former.

“Hello, you’ve reached the voicemail for “insert your name”.  I’m unable to answer your call at this time, but please leave your name, phone number and I’ll get back to you shortly.”

This is all, no need to overthink it.

Greeting

Since you’re likely expecting the call for the interview, I wouldn’t suggest just saying “hello” to answer.  Personally, I think people should answer the phone with, “Hello, this is (inset name).”  Normally the caller will respond with their own greeting in which they identify themselves.  Saying “hello” instead opens it up to that whole, “Is so-and-so there?”  “This is so-and-so” nonsense.  Just skip all of that and get down to business!

Closing

I’ve noticed people simply saying “Okay, thanks!” and hanging up at the end of a call, but this is not at all professional.  It also isn’t awesome to be like, “Okay, bye!” although if you nailed the rest of the call, the Hiring Manager might just be like, “Bye!” and no big deal.

To end the call properly,  I would suggest a polite and professional close.  “Thank you so much for your time today Kathy.”  If they mentioned the next step during your interview, the close is actually the time to show them you were listening and are invested.  “I’ll be watching for your email next week.” And then, close.  “Take care!”  Or if it’s Friday and you’re laid back, “Enjoy your weekend!”

3. Ending Strong

Ask Questions

This is probably a no-brainer, much like being prepared, but sometimes the phone interview can be so whirlwind, the interviewer doesn’t even remember to ask if you have any other questions because they’re already starting to think of their next appointment.  It’s important to pull them back into the present and end strong.  “Great! I just have a couple questions before you go.  Do you have a moment?” No respectful person will respond with, “No I do NOT have a moment!   Good day!”

Follow up

Just like you would follow up after an in person interview, you’ll want to send an email after your phone interview.  Use this as a chance to perfect any answers you may have felt needed clarification as well as express your interest and thank the interviewer.  This is also a good time to attach anything additional you had omitted when you initially applied, such as your references.

Now go on and do your best with that phone interview!

In Acquisitions, Does Size Matter?

Over the past 10 years, the electrical industry has seen the creation of hundreds of new companies offering new approaches to the expansion of technology in our industry. Many of these companies have created a sustainable and profitable business structure that has delivered a comfortable lifestyle to the owner(s) of those companies. Many of these companies were investor-funded, based upon the appeal of the technology and the founder’s vision and zeal or software companies that have emerged to support the growth and interest in the technological changes of larger initiatives; such as: smart grid, energy conservation, smart buildings or the more recent Internet of Things development. Within every initiative, there are hundreds of small companies that have carved out small niche strategies and provided jobs and profits for employees and owners alike. And now the acquisition market is ripe for those entrepreneurs… or is it?
Over the past 17 years, Egret has had a small M&A practice that has assisted small manufacturers and service companies in marketing their companies to prospective buyers. We’ve been fortunate to conclude several of these introductions; but our market has always been with smaller companies that have little attention or ‘voice’ within the business brokerage industry. But in all acquisitions, size does matter.
We have strong relationships with companies that range from pre-revenue to multi-billion dollar revenues. And in every case, the quest for an acquisition is always based upon size. The multiples paid for a $100M company are far stronger than a company that is $5M; despite the profitability. And the interest level in buying a company that is less than $10M is negligible; unless there is a significant IP or software solution that is a natural fit within a larger company’s strategic product plan.
The hundreds of small companies that are $2-8M in revenue have very little likelihood of selling their company to a strategic buyer, or investment company and face a difficult decision when the owner is interested in retiring. Sadly, many of these companies will simply close up, due to the financial risks that a buyer would face.  Let’s take two examples:

    1. Rep or service firm. A rep firm that sells $10M in products annually is in reality a $1M company to their accountant. A typical rep firm will average around 10% of sales; as they don’t directly transact the $10M of orders to the manufacturers, their P/L reflects solely the commissions earned; i.e. $1M. Whether a rep firm is a net $1M company or a net $10M company (i.e. $100M in revenues), the challenge to sell these companies to an outside strategic buyer is fraught with issues:
        1. Assuming a 1X revenues ‘price’, the purchase price of a rep firm generating $1M of internal revenues would collapse under the weight of adding $1M in debt financing. The math holds just as true for the $10M net revenue firm (i.e. $100M product sales).

       

        1. Customer relationships. Most rep principals have strong personal relationships within their territory. When the principals retire, those industry relationships are at risk.

       

      1. Operating expenses. Most rep firms have a proportional large headcount to support their services: quotes, order entry, order tracking, labor claims, product applications, training (both internal and customer), and outside sales efforts, including T&E, travel, etc.

 

  1. Small manufacturers with revenues of less than $5M have similar challenges in identifying prospective buyers. Even with high profits in excess of 10% EBITDA, the challenge a small manufacturer has is that the acquisition costs of integration, financing and training are too burdensome to strategic buyers to interest them in acquiring, unless there is a specific strategic rationale to do so. That limits the prospective buyer community to a single investor/owner, and the above issues become apparent again:

“Price” becomes an issue if the buyer is funding this through his/her own resources or debt financing the transaction: Let’s assume a 5X multiple of a 10% EBITDA for a $5M company; at $500,000 of profit and 5X= $2.5M ‘price’.  Adding $2.5M of debt onto a $5M company wipes out the earnings success of the company, leaving the new owner cash poor to invest in the company and grow. Whoever is holding the debt will face a huge challenge to out earn the debt load.
So, what’s the state of the acquisition market today? Large buyers are strongly interested in making acquisitions with a sweet spot of $20M and up. The ‘preferred’ magnitude is to be north of $100M; and therein lies the challenge… in the lighting industry, there are less than 30 companies, including the global players, that have revenues over $100M. While the number of companies between $20M and $70M is much higher, the appetite for buying drops precipitously once you’re less than $30M. A large strategic buyer, with revenues above $1B won’t ‘move the needle’ of the company forward with a $30M acquisition, it will likely be a footnote in their annual report. So the M&A market today is busy in terms of looking, but scarce in terms of transactions.

So what’s a seller to do? Our advice is straightforward:

    1. Be realistic. Your company has provided you and your employees with a certain lifestyle. That isn’t an ‘asset’ to a buyer. You need to properly price your company and disabuse yourself of a strategy of ‘cashing out’. If your company couldn’t survive with a debt load of your asking price… it will fail with a new buyer under those same terms.

 

    1. Seller financing. If you’re retiring, one of the best things for retirees is a defined cash flow, outside of your personal investment portfolio. Offer seller financing with extended payment schedules of 7, 8 or 10 years.

 

  1. Create a succession plan. Hire a capable leader who can eventually take over the company under your tutelage and with a long-term buyout strategy that doesn’t plunge the company into an undercapitalized failure.

In short, be proud of the success you’ve attained and be reasonable in your expectations of selling.

Ask the Expert – March 2017

Q: Prudence -I just applied for a position with Graybar. You contacted me a couple of times about Graybar jobs and wondered if you could put in a good word for me? – Jeffery

A: Jeffery – Unfortunately, I can’t because it really wouldn’t be appropriate. Once you go directly to the company, there’s really nothing I can do to influence them.  If they were to reach out to me and ask for my opinion, I’d be more than happy to oblige. They’re a great company and I hope it works out for you, keep me posted.  – Prudence

 

Have a question? Click HERE to ask one of our experts!

4 Advantages of Hiring Through a Recruiter

Many people have forecasted the decline of recruiters as the competition from online job postings, internal recruitment, and social media continues to grow. While the online gateway door swings open, more and more companies are spending a large chunk of time sifting through an abundance of resumes, making it harder to find the best candidate. For this reason, and many more, there still remains a core need for  recruiters to find talent.

What are some of the main advantages of using a recruiter?

Market Knowledge

Great recruiters know their specialty markets and give hiring managers insight into what is happening. Recruiters know the available talent, where they are and how to reach them. They know salary rates, career expectations,  and available skill-sets. The best will act as partners and collaborators and will be your eyes and ears in the market.

Network Reach

The right candidates can be hard to find. They may be passive or they may be selective. If they aren’t responding to job advertisements, don’t see themselves as part of your ‘talent pool’ and are too busy to search full time, then chances are that they may have relationships with a trusted recruiter in the electrical industry. Even if they aren’t currently active, there’s a strong chance that a good recruiter will know who they are and how to reach them. Recruiters have many networks and have the potential to leverage their networks to help connect you to people with a range of skills and experiences, many of who would be off the radars of an in-house team or hiring manager.

Candidates not Applicants

A lot of talent attraction is aimed at attracting applicants, whether they are responding to a job board posting or just through your website. A lot of these people may not be good matches for the role and a lot of time ends up being invested in filtering, assessing, matching and communicating with them. Using a recruiter should mean that you see only candidates – talent that has been pre-selected to match all the criteria that you are looking for and who are worthy of consideration and interview.

Help with Employer Brand

Large companies invest a lot of time and money in developing and marketing their employer brand, but many smaller businesses don’t have the same resources. If you choose your recruiter wisely, they can give potential candidates a real insight in to your business – what it’s like to work there, benefits, an understating of the career opening available, and a feel for the culture. If you partner closely with a recruiter, and allow them to spend some time getting to know you and some of your key managers, they should be able to represent you as an employer of choice.

Of course most business will have their own reasons for using a recruiter but for many they may offer a faster route to access stronger talent that they would otherwise miss out on.