Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Something You Should Never Do On A Job Interview: Don't Put Your Interviewer On The Spot

Last week I wrote about things you should not communicate or do on a first interview.  This post is about something you should never do on any interview.  But it often happens.

There are a number of candidates who, in an effort to promote their candidacy, will end an interview by asking their interviewer to evaluate them on the spot.  Every professional recruiter has had this happen. And every one of us hates it. How uncomfortable it is when someone asks whether we like them or how they did.

It is awkward and difficult.  First, because most of us need some time to pass, even a half an hour, before we can evaluate and assess a candidate. It often takes a while to consider what was learned.  Second, it is actually rude.  It puts the interviewer on the defensive, even if he or she likes the person they just interviewed. Very few of us will say to someone’s face that they don’t like them or that they did something wrong. 

Putting a recruiter or hiring manager or any interviewer on the spot is totally uncool.

Recently, I had a candidate do a variation of this.  He asked a client at the end of the interview, “So, tell me, when you saw my résumé but before we met, what did you think about me as a candidate?”  Then, in the same breath, “How did the actual interview compare to what you thought before you met me?”  The interviewer was justifiably taken aback.  She felt as if she were being backed into a corner. She felt it was aggressive and bad-mannered. I knew when the candidate told me he had asked those questions that he would be dinged..

The candidate who did this justified his questioning by telling me that he was told that this was a good question to ask by the CMO of a major corporation.  I believe it was bad advice because it is a very aggressive, presumptuous and definitely in-your-face. And the answer is irrelevant. What difference is there between how they perceived the résumé vs how they perceived the actual candidate (remember, people only spend six seconds on a résumé before an interview, if they read it at all)?

Furthermore, I am not sure that anyone who is put on the spot like this would actually give an honest answer.  I doubt I would ever say to someone, “I liked you until you asked that question.”  The question, in any form, is aggressive. Doing this may also reveal that the person asking it is actually unsure of him or herself.  Confident people don’t need to ask how they did, except, possibly, former three-term Mayor Ed Koch; but he was sure of the answer anyway. It was also revealing in another way.  Is this something the candidate would do to clients he worked with?  A client should never be backed in a corner.

People do ask me all the time at the end of an interview if I will be able to help them.  That is a fair question and I don't mind it, but reveals that they don’t understand that recruiters work on assignment. Sooner or later, I may have an appropriate assignment for all the people I meet, even some I may not have loved or even connected with. Who I can help depends on my clients and their needs.  So the answer is always that I will be able to help them sooner or later.

On rare occasions I have told people at the end of an interview that I am not the right recruiter for them.  But this generally because what they want or need is not what I do and I don’t want to string them along.

The best question to ask at the end of an interview is to ask for the order.  In other words, tell the interviewer you are interested in pursuing the job or tell an independent recruiter like me you would like to work with them.  But don't put him or her on the spot.

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