For most writers, publishing a book is a massive undertaking.
But not for Donna Bacon. In her extensive career, she had compiled so many notes via journaling that putting together an entire book didn’t seem so daunting.
Bacon, a Mayfair native and Bustleton resident, recently released her professional development book Your Best Job Interview. Having a 20-plus-year career hiring and coaching job candidates, Bacon provides key insights into every step of the job interviewing process, coaxing readers to consider how they might come across to the person they are being interviewed by.
“[The book gives advice on] interpersonal skills, the way you dress, how you communicate, and how you negotiate,” Bacon said. “These topics are all obvious, but the insights I’m trying to share are ones I have learned from coaching job candidates may not be so obvious.”
For example – most candidates will send thank you notes to their interviewers after the interview has concluded, but according to Bacon, it’s an unnecessary extra test that is unlikely to sway the company’s final hiring decision. In extreme cases, writing one could even cost you the job.
“In a devastating case, a lead candidate whose first language was not English sent a thank you note, and the grammar was not correct,” Bacon said of a job candidate she had coached. “The manager said they had to think twice about the hiring decision, and the candidate ended up not getting the job.”
That was a particularly brutal instance Bacon had witnessed in her extensive career. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, she worked for 10 years as a staff manager at a telecom company, where she hired most of her staff. Realizing she enjoyed working with people and wanting to stay within the discipline of analytics, she became an executive recruiter for 12 years, where she coached and interviewed job candidates as a third party.
During her career, she began journaling the events of her day, and realized she would often end up dispensing similar advice to multiple candidates.
“If the same topic came up two or three times a day, I would say wow, this is really something people need to know how to handle,” Bacon said. “I had to coach candidates to look at things from a different angle so they can understand how they’re perceived when they interview.”
The book covers every step of the interview process, from putting together your best resume to submitting a thank you note (or not). In her years of working with candidates, Bacon said the first impression a candidate gives is vitally important, from the way they dress to how they introduce themselves.
“The key is getting the basics down. The first two criteria a candidate is judged on is communication and interpersonal skills,” she said. “Every job is going to require communication and every job is going to require the people who hire you to want to work with you.”
At just over 150 pages, it’s a quick read, keeping the advice and insights zipping by. It also touches on topics like salary negotiations, gathering and preparing references and how to conduct yourself if the interview is held over lunch. (Hint: don’t get too conversational. Bacon said a lead candidate lost the job by bringing up politics and other topics once the food was served.)
The book is dedicated to Bacon’s parents, who encouraged Bacon to write it but unfortunately did not see it released. Both passed away within seven weeks of each other in 2017. She had moved back to Philadelphia to serve as their caretaker.
“Sometimes you realize life just falls into place, so the timing was right to finish the book after they passed,” she said.
The book is available on Amazon by searching “Donna Bacon.” It is also available at the Doylestown Bookshop and Newtown Bookshop, and is available in libraries at the University of Notre Dame, West Chester University and New York University.