Tuesday, March 12, 2019

It is Crititical For Companies And Candidates To Manage The Interview Process

It is really important to manage the process, especially if it started through networking.  If it becomes obvious that one is interviewing for something real, it is critical to find out that the people you see know why they are seeing you.  It avoids huge problems, per what happened to the person I am using to illustrate this post. 

I just heard a remarkable story.  A person had been interviewed by a number of people at a large, non-New York agency. The job was to be the manager of a department for which she was totally qualified based on her previous experience.  She had seen six people, all of whom had seen her resume, and was assured that the last person she would be seeing was merely a courtesy.   As a result, reasonably assured that she would get the job, she moved to this city prior to getting an offer - she obviously wanted to be there.  When she saw the final person, that person looked at her and said, “You are over qualified to work for me.  I am looking for a person to work for me.” 

Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time. People go on interviews and finally meet the hiring manager, only to learn that the job isn’t right for them.  No one managed the process.  Not human resources, not the senior managers and certainly not the hiring manager.  Someone who knew the job was open referred the applicant to a manager (not the person who was doing the hiring) who then referred them to other people.  When it finally got to the decision maker, it was dinged.  Kind of like a game of telephone where the final person hears something completely different than what was originally said.

When no one is managing the process it can become a total waste of everyone’s job.  Now, in the case that I mentioned, the applicant should never have moved without an offer letter. But, be that as it may, one thing the candidate did not do is to ask everyone she met to define the job as they see it; if she had done that, she would have found out quickly that the job was not well defined and might have been too junior. (That is something every candidate for every job should ask, no matter what the level or position is.)  I know what happened in this instance.  The CEO or whoever he/she was, met the person and liked her.  They were then passed on to others who also liked her.  And with each successive interview, they merely passed her on, and, not surprisingly, they had no idea why they were seeing her, but they were asked to see this person, so they did.  They may or may not have known that there was a job opening, but even if they did, they had no idea what the real job specs were.  If they had been asked that question, they might have found out and told the candidate.

When I am asked about the hiring process, I always tell companies that after each interview all the people in the process should compare notes.  In this way, questions and concerns can be answered and resolved. If all the people are not available together, then it is up to HR to coordinate and determine whether the person being seen is appropriate. This insures that everyone is on the same page and allows questions to be formed and asked to insure the candidate is totally appropriate for the job.

The other half of this process is that the candidate has to insure that everyone is on the same page at the company.  This is especially true when one has networked to the company and has not necessarily seen HR first.  As people pass you from one executive to another, it is important to actually ask what the job is. 

Sadly, all too often this is not the case.  People looking for a job should take it upon themselves to be aware of why they are interviewing and get a definition of the job from each person they meet. Not long ago, I wrote about 30 questions every candidate should ask.

The whole point is to make sure that the job is defined for both the candidate and the company.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Follow Up: Never Bring Coffee On An Interview

I received so many comments on my post last week about bringing coffee on an interview that I thought I would synthesize them and make an additional commentary.

Most comments, sent to me either on Facebook, through various LinkedIn sites or in personal emails, were positive.  But there were a few people who vehemently disagreed with my premise. 
Most of the disagreements were, I suspect, made by people who actually bring coffee when they interview.

The point of the entire post was that if there is only a small chance of turning someone off and losing a job opportunity by bringing coffee or other beverages on an interview, why risk it?  That is a very simple premise.  Several people told me that I was wrong and that my point of view is petty and old fashioned. Others said that they would not want to work for a company which viewed its candidates in this way. The problem is they will never tell a candidate why they were dinged.  

But bringing coffee into my home (I consider my office as home) is a pet peeve.

I stand by my assertion that bringing coffee is a no-no. One person actually went so far as to say that there is a difference between a meeting and an interview and that meeting a recruiter was not an actual interview. Therefore, bringing coffee was okay.  But bringing coffee to any meeting, interview or not, is impolite. The host should always offer a beverage, but if not, suck it up. 

But be that as it may, I want to be clear that even if someone brings coffee to my office, it would not affect my opinion of them, nor would it prevent me from sending them on an interview. But I always make a note of it in the candidate’s file so that I can remind them not to do it when I send them out. (I am willing to bet that most of those people bring it anyway because buying coffee, especially in the morning, is an ingrained habit.)   

What one writer pointed out, and it was very prescient, is what happens when the meeting is over.  It makes a big difference whether someone removes their cup, takes it with them or leaves it for me to clean up (that happens frequently).

Many interviewers commented that they always offer coffee, water or soda to anyone who comes to their office.   That is very appropriate and correct whether a large meeting or a one-on-one.  A candidate is perfectly right to make a judgement about the character of the person they are meeting with based on whether they are offered something to drink. After all, an interview or a meeting is a two way street.
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