By Annette Monks, CTS
President, Carlton Staffing
Common Courtesy During the Interview Goes Both Ways!
I have noticed a disturbing trend of discourteous behavior from both candidates and hiring managers during the interview process. If this continues, it could change the job seeking and hiring experience to a point where “the people interaction part” will be avoided if at all possible. To avoid human exchange during such a critical process as hiring would result in poor matches, unnecessary turnover, lost productivity and ultimately much reduced profit. We need to connect with each other, therefore we need to encourage these connections by practicing good courtesy as a candidate or a hiring manager.
Let’s start by keeping in mind that just because we are a hiring manager, it does not give us the right to disregard any candidates who have shown an interest in working for us. On the opposite side, no matter how tight a candidate market gets, if a hiring manager has shown an interest in us as a potential employee, we should be respectful and humbled to be considered. It goes both ways! Neither party is more important than the other. We all need each other so let’s keep our behavior in check. After all, people do remember being treated poorly and they talk (and tweet and post on social media) amongst themselves. If we’re not mindful of how we act toward each other, we could create a very negative brand for ourselves as individuals or for our company as their representative.
Here are 5 Simple Rules of Interview Courtesy that apply to both the hiring manager and the candidate alike. These should be followed as very basic rules of courtesy – yet are so often overlooked by both sides during an interview:
- Come to the interview prepared.
Candidate: Dress appropriately and ensure you are properly groomed. Ask about the dress code and adhere to it. Bring your resume. Have something to write with and on. Have prepared questions. Know who you are meeting with and what their role is. I cannot tell you how often I have been scheduled to interview a candidate as the last step in our hiring process and they say “Oh hey Annette. What’s your last name again? What do you do here?” And my answer is “Um, Monks and I’m the President.” One strike for the candidate. No research for who they are meeting with!
Hiring Manager: First, put your own best foot forward. The candidate is interviewing you too! If your environment is extremely casual dress or vice-versa, inform the candidate beforehand. Don’t make them wear a suit in a hot warehouse! Review their resume and LinkedIn profile beforehand and have questions prepared specifically for them. Don’t just waltz into the room and ask what their name is and read their resume while they wait awkwardly watching you do so. Show an interest in them. You might be very busy, but don’t rush the interview and shoo them out the door.
- Do not waste their time with a no show.
Candidate: This has become rampant in the candidate community and it will come back to bite you! If you cannot attend your interview, or choose another opportunity, or are no longer interested in pursuing this opportunity, let them know as far in advance as possible. The hiring manager will have have set time aside for their meeting with you. They may have re-arranged multiple meetings for your interview or decided not to go to lunch with the team awaiting your meeting. Perhaps they passed on seeing another candidate to make room for you or maybe they are just excited to meet you! Not showing up without the courtesy of any notice is the worst insult to any hiring manager. It is the ultimate rude behavior. And do not assume they are interviewing lots of people and your absence will not be noticed. If you scheduled an appointment, it will be noticed.
Hiring Manager: The candidate has taken the time to prepare for the interview, dress professionally, and is paying for gas or an Uber to get to your facility for an interview. They also may have arranged and paid for child care. They are a bit anxious, nervous, or perhaps very hopeful about the opportunity. Maybe they cancelled another interview or important personal appointment for your opportunity. Don’t take that vacation day or call in sick and not check your calendar for interviews scheduled or go into another meeting and blow off your candidate. If it can’t be you that meets with them, manage expectations up front. Check your calendar if you are taking off and reschedule the interview. A “blow off” is the ultimate rude behavior and is extremely painful for job seekers.
- Arrive on time.
Candidate: Use your app for directions the day before the interview at that same time of day (excluding weekends if it’s a M-F job) to see what traffic will be like. Make sure you fill the car up with gas the night before and have their contact information handy during your drive to the interview. If something comes up that is unexpected, call and let the hiring manager know. They might be waiting on you before they have to be in another meeting, or run a personal errand, or get a project completed for a deadline. Just being aware of changes will go a long way toward allowing them to make adjustments and will help in building trust with them that you are someone who is reliable. And fyi, one minute late is LATE. Don’t assume they have a “grace period” for tardiness.
Hiring Manager: Give the candidate thorough directions to the facility, for parking, and entry. Some facilities require a process to be allowed in the building. Let them know ahead of time so they can plan to get there earlier and are not unnerved by it. Do NOT be that hiring manager that likes to test candidates by keeping them waiting. That’s just rude. The candidate got there on time and so should you. They are anxiously awaiting your arrival and extending this waiting period can be excruciating. If you have a meeting running late, try to get hold of the candidate to let them know. Perhaps this will allow them to make that pit stop beforehand if they know they have another 30 minutes to spare.
- Use proper etiquette and show gratitude.
Candidate: All of these apply: Smile, make eye contact, say please and thank you, give a good hand shake (during COVID ask how they prefer to greet you in lieu of a handshake). Confirm that you are pronouncing their name correctly. Thank them for their time and consideration.
Hiring Manager: All of these apply: Smile, make eye contact, say please and thank you, give a good hand shake (during COVID ask how they prefer to greet you in lieu of a handshake). Confirm that you are pronouncing their name correctly. Thank them for their time and consideration.
- Take the high road.
Candidate: No hiring manager wants to hear about how terrible your previous employers were. Give some grace if at all possible to all previous employers assuming that they did the best they could. After all, the interviewer might wonder how will you speak this way about them in the future?
Hiring Manager: No candidate wants to hear about the failings of previous employees. Allow them to keep their dignity and assume that it just wasn’t a right fit. After all, the candidate will wonder if you will speak this way about them if they join your team and for some reason it doesn’t work out?
We are all human and we innately appreciate basic kindness from other humans, no matter what role we play in the employment world. Please keep this in mind as we seek a new job or interview a candidate for our company. Reversing this cycle of discourtesy happens one behavior at a time!