Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Respecting A Candidate's Time

I have seen a trend in the last few years that is really annoying to me and to my candidates.  I have written about agencies being afraid of their clients.  But that fear manifests itself in a strange way: one of my pet peeves is hiring managers who don’t respect the time constraints of their prospective candidates.  I always caution my clients to remember that a candidate’s time is as valuable to him or her as your time is to you.

The trend I have seen is people being rude to the people they want to hire by being late, keeping prospective employees waiting for an inordinate amount of time, standing up candidates as well as constantly changing meetings.  I fully understand that in this service-oriented business things happen that are unavoidable.  Meetings do run longer than expected and clients demand last minute meetings and calls.  But a hiring manager who is considerate can often tell a client that they are about to conduct an interview to hire someone for them – few clients would refuse to have a meeting cut short to accommodate a potential hire for their own team.  The issue is that the managers are afraid to ask.

Keeping people waiting an inordinate amount of time, say, beyond fifteen minutes, especially with no communication, is just rude.  Not showing up for meetings without a call is inexcusable. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.  

A few years ago, a company actually paid for a candidate to fly to New York from Chicago for a series of interviews. The meetings were scheduled about a week and a half in advance.  Several of the people scheduled to meet the candidate did not show up.  Unfortunately it was a Friday, and the candidate had to be back for a Monday client meeting.  The agency actually refused to fly him back again – as if it was his fault.  He did not get the job as a result (in this case it was the agency’s fault).  I knew one of the people who did not show up for the interview. I called her to ask what happened.  She told me that a client called and she went to see the client and said she forgot about the candidate flying in.  Simple as that.  There was never an apology made to the candidate.

The other week, I had a client change a candidate’s appointment five times, within a day..  They moved it from Thursday to Friday, and then back to Thursday, then back to Friday.  They changed the Friday times twice.  There was no consideration given to the fact that with each of these changes, the candidate had to change her busy schedule.  In this case, it was a final interview with the most senior person in the interview chain. I actually don't think that this person had any idea that his administrative assistant kept changing the appointment, but I suspect that the admin who keeps his schedule was just too junior to arrange for the appointment to be kept.

It seems to be happening more and more.  At some companies, there is a coordinator who is in charge of scheduling.  Often, these people first make dates with candidates and only then go to the person who they are supposed to see to determine their availability; when that happens, inevitably the date will have to change. No one teaches the coordinator how to do it in the least disruptive manner for all parties involved.  

When I do corporate lectures and training, I always remind people who are doing the interviewing that one of their jobs is public relations.  They are always a representative of their company and how they act towards people they meet is the way that their company will be perceived.

I have a confession.  The truth is that I dislike making appointments for candidates.  I find that by me doing it, there is a third party inserted into the process. Rather than facilitate the appointment, it is just another step.  I prefer having clients and candidates make their own appointments. Those tend to be kept more often for some reason.

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