Table Manners

Ever wonder what’s it like to be in the other side of the table?

Recently I began searching for a new opportunity: I’ve got some solid leads and have felt great about saying “no” to opportunities that don’t fit. It’s a good thing.

And yet embarking on the job hunt inevitably results in the interview, both on the phone (or Skype/FaceTime) and periodically face to face. Here are some things that will not impress quality candidates (like me) in a positive way.

To fill those roles faster and get butts in seats, avoid these foibles.

  • Time. Ladies and gentlemen your candidate’s time is worth as much as yours. If you set a phone call for a time certain, please keep that time. Nothing is more annoying that gathering your notes, your thoughts and yourself only to sit and wait becuase someone on the other end of the line can’t remember if it was 2 or 2:30. Be timely. And yes, the same goes for the in-person visits. Five minutes of cooling your heels in the foyer is probably not out of bounds – 15 minutes because you can’t round up the interview team is disorganized. You’re trying to positively influence the candidate, remember?
  • Scheduling. I enjoyed driving down the highway one fine day only to be called by a potential employer and asked where I was. “I35” I said. Turns out the employer had a room full of eight people waiting to interview me – everything was all set except… No one ever told me. The interview was scheduled without my knowlege. Please for the love of God let a qualified coordinator do all your scheduling. He or she will know how to read calendars (yes, you must use a group calendar at work) set meetings, book rooms and – here’s the kicker – inform candidates. Importantly they will also check to see if the candidate is available on the day and time preferred. I’ve found this helps too.
  • Point person. In a recent round of interviews with a tech company I interacted with three different contacts on three different continents trying to set up local interviews. It was not easy. Best practice says there’s always one point person or contact: you lose time and valuable information on the state of your candidate’s perception towards you if the relationship is fractured and parsed. You wanna close the deal? Let the coordinator set the schedules and let the recruiter own the relationship. Let recruiters do what they know how to do and they will keep communications open, and valued candidates warm.
  • Preparation. I withdrew from another role recently after visiting with three members of the C suite and was left with one clear impression: these guys were way too unfocused to ever work with. None of them had seen my resume before, none could articulate succinctly the value add of the role I was considering and none had deep questions for me. No, I was not impressed by how “busy” they were: there is an obvious difference between busy and scatter-brained. Having worked with execs for 25 years I can tell you focus counts and focus wins, so if you’re not prepared to interview thoroughly a potential member of the senior team then you’re, uh, not in my focus.

There are other signs of ineptness in interviewing – I could probably do a series – but I wanted to start with some of the basics.

Good candidates, i.e., people who can do the work you have now and the work you’ll need tomorrow, are hard to find: other well-run enterprises already employ them. You are only going to attract them by playing at the same high level consistently during the interview process.

Mind your manners.


2 thoughts on “Table Manners

  1. I used to work for an RPO that would try to help companies remember that the candidate experience truly and deeply matters. I’m always amazed when I read stories like yours, but I shouldn’t be. I can think of the time a recruiter called me over and over again on my cell while I was on vacation to schedule phone interviews for me as soon as I was back in town… prob was I didn’t have my planner or interest in talking to a company that couldn’t even honor that I was taking five days off before I was even their employee.

    Thanks for starting this conversation!

    • Thank you Alli! We might guess that small companies struggle with the logistics and management of the candidate experience but my reality is that some of the biggest blue chips struggle the worst. Get your game face on recruiters – the candidate experience matters!

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