In my line of business, it’s not uncommon to hear horror stories. Stories about candidates who have, let’s just say, approached the interview process the wrong way.
Often, candidates seeking new opportunities are in a whole new world. They’re out of the element and unsure of the best means for finding new options. That discomfort sometimes leads to frustration and sometimes frustration leads to poor interview performance.
What is, perhaps, less talked about is the poor interviewer performance. Many interviewers are thrust into the responsibility with little formal interview training. Conducting an interview is a skill. As such, this skill is developed over time, and can only be improved upon with practice.
There is an abundance of interview preparatory material available to interviewers. Unfortunately, many people who are responsible for hiring don’t even think about the process until it’s time to fill a need. By then, it’s too late to improve interview acumen.
Recently, a candidate shared an interviewer horror story. She was scheduled for an interview. Like any good candidate, she arrived early. She spent a great deal of time researching the company, the position, the culture and even explored the blogosphere to see what people were saying about the company.
While she arrived early, the interviewer was behind schedule and kept her waiting (without the courtesy of any explanation) for an hour. When she was finally called upon, instead of being taken to a defined interview space, she was taken to the corner of an open atrium area to interview.
When the interview began, the candidate was given an overview of the position for the first 15 minutes before a question was even asked, and the question that she waited 15 minutes to hear was, “why should I consider you?”
After that 1 question, the interviewer excused herself and left the candidate for 5 minutes. Upon her return, without any apology for the interruption, she quickly asked if the candidate had any questions. The candidate responded, “What is it about this company that brings you to work every day?”
The interviewer response was shocking. “I’m interviewing you. You’re not interviewing me.”
Not much surprises me anymore. But, this did. Whether it was ignorance or shortsightedness, the interviewer was ill-prepared to conduct the interview.
First, an interview is for the benefit of both, company and candidate. The company representative should expect to be interviewed about the organization, just as a candidate should expect to be interviewed about his/her past experience and special skills. Second, a company, through its designated representative, initiates an interview process, and, in fact, has all the leverage through the process. However, the candidate upon receipt of offer has the ultimately decision-making authority. He/she decides whether to accept any offer or not.
In the hospitality business, as with many other industries, the candidate could become a customer (or guest). So, even if an offer is not extended, the company should make every effort to ensure a professional interview process. If a candidate is not selected for a position, but is treated fairly, it is likely the person will continue to frequent that restaurant or store. If, however, the candidate perceives the interview process to be unfair, rest assured that person will not do business with that company, and will likely tell as many people who will listen.
Incidentally, to her surprise, the candidate received a call to return for a second interview. She graciously declined, and enjoyed a good laugh at the audacity of the interviewer.