Since 1981, I have worked with over 3000 hiring managers across the United States. Most of whom have never been trained how to effectively interview. If they haven’t been taught how to interview, they certainly have not been taught how to select the best fit. Therefore, they bring their own unique interview techniques and questions to the interview party. Of course, the candidates bring their own special treats to the interviewing party; and I will share some of those also. Doesn’t it sometimes make you wonder how successful matches are ever made?
The setting was a nationally known fulfillment center where I contracted to help them find applications programmers. The manager was a well meaning manager who had never been taught how to effectively interview. The candidate was a very talented applications programmer who wanted to move out of the commotion of Baltimore into the quieter environs of small town Pennsylvania.
The manager wanted to portray the working environment as honestly as he could. When he was satisfied that the candidate had all of the technical skills he needed, he began to describe the work environment and the benefits of working there.
The candidate originally was very excited to interview with this company. When we debriefed after her interview, she said that she felt the interview went well while they discussed the technical environment. She felt she was a very good match for their technical needs. However when discussing the work environment, she said the manager asked a question that really concerned her.
When I asked her what the question was, she replied, “He asked me if I was willing to work 120 hour weeks?” She told him “I didn’t think so!” Shortly after that exchange, the interview was over without further explanation.
In my experience, sometimes candidates don’t really understand what is said by managers. I called the hiring manager and asked him how the interview went. He said that it went very well technically. Then suddenly the candidate seemed to lose interest. I asked him if that happened around the time that he asked her if she was willing to work 120 hour weeks? He replied that yes, it may have been around that time.
I asked if he could describe the structure of a 120 hour work week. His reply? “Well we do have to work some 80 hour weeks!” I said there was a week’s worth of time difference between 80 hours and 120 hours. It is far better to talk about the real environment than the perceived environment. He sometimes probably felt he was working 120 hours.
It also raised the question of his effectiveness as a manager if he had to schedule people regularly to work 80 or 120 hour weeks.
This is an example of a time when the lack of interview training cost the company a fine candidate. After he created the perception for her, she no longer was interested. All she could think of now was an environment where she would not be able to enjoy the satisfaction of working in a small town.
Recruiting is a sales process. The perceptions that we create are sometimes good impressions and sometimes bad impressions. It is important to remember that candidates are measuring us for fit while we are measuring them for fit.
Luck comes in two forms – good and bad. This time the bad luck raised its ugly head and the client lost a very qualified candidate who would have gladly relocated prior to picturing 120 hour weeks.
Don’t put your company at risk of losing well qualified candidates, especially when your company needs them to relocate. Teach your managers how to effectively interview and select the best candidate for each of their positions.