“Two Out of Three Ain’t Good!”

The following story shows how the most experienced hiring managers can turn off great candidates. It’s no secret that good talent is hard to find and to keep these days.  Interview techniques of a few years ago have become outdated and ineffective, and “veteran” hiring managers desperately need to update their skills.

Companies are now forced to pay attention to the impression they leave with candidates, whether they end up offering positions to them or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 50 million or 5 billion, managing the “employer reputation,” or “brand” is vital in attracting talent.  Told to me, and now to you, directly from the email of a top candidate, this story describes how two out of three veteran hiring managers blew it!

In spite of excellent cultures and experienced interviewers, some of the best companies today are damaging their “employer brand,” because hiring managers’ attitudes and interview techniques are simply outdated for today’s environment. Below are the exact words from the email of an outstanding candidate who was lost, but more importantly, offended, by two out of the three hiring managers they met that day. Regardless of whether your company is a 5 million or 5 billion size organization, managing the “employer reputation,” or “brand” is vital in attracting and retaining top people for the long term.  A simple way to look at this is to treat all candidates just exactly as you would a prospective client visiting your office.  As the email below will illustrate, this is certainly not what the candidate experienced!

Email from Candidate After 3-Person Interview:

“To be perfectly frank with you, the interview was one of the most disappointing candidate experiences I’ve ever been through.  Now, Matt was fantastic and I liked him very much – he was very personable and gave me his undivided attention.  However, in my interview with Sam it started to go downhill.  Sam was standing at his stand-up desk the whole time, checking email and answering his phone while I was talking.  We were also interrupted a few times by people walking into his office, and at one point he asked me to excuse him and started a 5 minute conversation with one of his co-workers while I was sitting there.  He was so distracted I had to answer at least 2 questions he asked me twice because he couldn’t remember my answer.

My interview with Evan went only slightly better.  He sat me down in his office and proceeded to tell me to wait there while he attended to another matter.  I waited for a few minutes, and he returned.  He asked me to give him a high level view of my background, which I did.  He then looked at my resume (which I could tell was his first time reviewing it) and asked me to go over my work history again.  As I was answering one of his questions, his cell phone rang and he told me it was an “emergency” – it was his nephew, calling regarding a school project he’s doing in so Evan said he had to talk to him.  I remained calm and professional, but to be honest I felt like just walking out the door.  This seemed like something that could’ve waited, but he clearly thought it was more important than our interview.  All in all, an interview that should’ve realistically took an hour took two hours, which I found to be excessive.

My main concern would be that if I was treated as an afterthought in the interview, what would life be like on the job?  I can’t take that risk, which is my reason for withdrawing.  I understand these gentlemen are busy and have lots on their plates, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to be interviewed without multiple interruptions and to be treated professionally.

To receive tips on improving interview techniques, email kcole@dkcole.com.

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