An article on the Recruitment Grapevine website happened to catch my attention today as it directly referenced a situation that happened to a candidate I am currently representing. The article is titled “4 ways hiring managers are ruining job interviews” and the second bullet point was what caught my eye. I have pasted the specific section below however you can find the whole article by clicking here – Original Article.
2. Does other work during the interview. “We had just started talking when the Hiring Manager received a call and stepped out of her office. When she came back, she apologised, but then started sending emails on her computer. She made me feel like I was an intrusion on her day and that filling the job wasn’t important.”
Tip: “Give each candidate your undivided attention” – don’t respond to calls, texts or emails during the interview.
The lawyer candidate I am representing is a Legal Director level candidate who runs a large team and has been involved in a significant amount of recruitment on the other side as an interviewer. They are currently looking for a new opportunity and they recently interviewed for a senior legal role with a large consumer business – a company that puts its customer first and is focused on good customer service. We join the recruitment process at the second stage, following the candidates meeting with a Board level member of staff.
Echoing the bullet point in the Recruitment Grapevine article, it came to my attention after the interview, whilst taking feedback from the candidate, that the interviewer failed to give the candidate their undivided attention. They were constantly checking their phone, taking calls and responding to emails. They looked like they needed to be somewhere else and this totally disrupted the flow of the interview and made it much harder to establish rapport. It appears a crisis was taking place in the business which the interviewer was unable to step away from. Understandable but far from ideal when interviewing for a business critical appointment.
Due to a lack of engagement and by undertaking other work during the interview, my client has failed to create the positive impression any interviewer should be striving for when undertaking an interview. The candidate came away without building rapport with their potential line manager, without a clear understanding of the clients priorities and without a clear idea of exactly what they are looking for. The end result is that this candidate has opted to pull out of the process. The business and its challenges are hugely exciting however the lack of engagement and clarity during the recruitment process has left them unconvinced that this is the company and role for them.
With this client, the wider recruitment process has also suffered from a lack of clarity and engagement. There was limited feedback following the first round of interviews and there has been a clear lack of information and detail surrounding the responsibilities of the post-holder, the standing of the role in the company and the benefits package on offer. This could be cultural, as my client is headquartered overseas, it could be down to time pressure (not really an excuse as time should be found), or it could be procedural, as contact with line management has been restricted and HR are leading.
An interview/recruitment process is a two-way street and it is important that the interviewer is focused on the task in hand. You should give your undivided attention, you should be prepared, you should provide plenty of detail about the job, explain about potential career progression and role development, explain how the post-holder fits into the business, explain what you expect from the post-holder, and you should look to develop rapport and an understanding. After the interview you should provide timely and detailed feedback which sets out why you are interested (or not) and provides detail which will allow the candidate to prepare for another round of interviews, with your company or elsewhere.
Gaining buy-in and developing rapport are key aspects of any interview/recruitment process and it starts at the very outset, increasing in importance the further the you move towards an offer. Failure to do so can result in candidates dropping out and offers being rejected. This is a candidate led market and the best applicants have options elsewhere. If they feel unloved, or have any doubts, then your preferred candidate may opt to go elsewhere.
My client could have avoided this situation had they fostered a policy of openness and engagement with me – I’m here to help – and the applicants. In a candidate led market all employers need to recognise the importance of a speedy and engaging interview process.