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.

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