Radio silence

Your radio silence is a sign, and the clock is ticking.

Radio Silence, candidates going dark

If you are interviewing with a company for a job, it is imperative that you respond to the recruiter in a timely manner throughout the entire process. 

As a person that is reaching out to candidates, I know that HR has a reputation for not returning phone calls, not updating candidates, and leaving the impression that that the company doesn’t give a crap about the candidate experience. I get that.

As a representative of the company, if I provide a bad candidate experience, I should not expect the candidate to be thrilled to be working with our company.  The candidate experience is an indication of what is behind the curtain just like bathrooms in a restaurant.  If the most visible place in a restaurant (the place we take care of No. 2) is not clean, what does the area we do not see (where the food is prepared) look like?

If our first experience as a candidate is poor, we can only draw the conclusion that the rest of the company experiences are going to be poor.       

As often as I hear the complaint that the HR house is dirty, you would be surprised how often I don’t hear back from a candidate. Below are a couple of examples of radio silence that will leave a bad impression with your hiring manager or recruiter.    

Although this happens with all demographics, it seems to happen with Millennia’s on a regular basis. I want to share it here because my theory is that this comes from a lack of experience when it comes to networking.  I doubt it is on purpose.

Radio Silence scenario 1.  Millennia’s

I receive an internal referral from an employee on a connection of theirs that happens to be a Millennial aged candidate.  I really appreciate internal referrals because the person making the referral knows what the company wants and most employees will not put their name on a candidate unless they believe they will be successful. I try to do a couple of things when reaching out to this referral. 

  • Let them know that the employee that referred them is a great employee and knows what success at Acme Publishing looks like.
  • Let them know that I have heard nothing but great things about the candidate.
  • Explain that we would love the opportunity to buy that person coffee and see if there is a fit.  If we don’t have a fit, maybe we know someone that does.
  • Leave 5 ways to contact me including personal cell, and how many lanterns means by land, and how many in interpreted to mean “by sea”.
  • Let the referring employee know that I reached out to their candidate. 

In other words, I am trying to take all of the guesswork out of this process for the referred candidate. Regardless of how intimidating my Darth Vadaresque presence is, they should have NO insecurities about reaching out. It surprises me how often it will take days and in some cases weeks for someone to just respond to my initial email.  Just as often, I don’t hear anything. Nada, zip, zero. When I do hear back, it is obviously at their convenience because there is always an “explanation” why it took so long. The presence of an explanation tells me they know they took too long to respond. 

Three quick thoughts:    

  • It boggles my mind
  • It makes the person that referred the candidate look bad. They vouched for the candidate and right out of the gate the reflection back is a lack of courtesy.   
  • It makes me wonder how timely they will respond to our customers if hired.

If a company reaches out to you because someone you know is recommending us as a candidate, we need to show some discipline and more importantly, show some courtesy and respond in a timely manner. Candidates that are slow to respond are rarely hired. 

Radio Silence scenario number 2: I make an offer and receive radio silence.

  • In the process of working with a candidate through an interview loop, usually at the very beginning of the cycle, candidates call back immediately. Communication is not only timely, communication is easy. With today’s technology, we can respond to a recruiter for from our phones, while in line at Starbucks!   
  • Early in the loop, candidates are literally anticipating my questions and answering everything they can in an effort to speed up the process. 

Radio Silence is usually an indication of cold feet:

  • The offer wasn’t strong enough in their mind, which is a pisser because we always try to agree the financial requirement needed to join the company. (If you gave me a range in your salary requirement, I heard the lower number).   
  • Your significant other got cold feet and like Mr. Freeze turned you to ice. 
  • Current employer gave you a counter offer. (Which is also a pisser because we review what the conversation is going to be like with the current employer when the notice is turned in and how to explain the move in a way that is usually foolproof)
  • The candidate is lazy. They got to the goal line, received the offer and now feel like there is no urgency. Until your butt is in the seat, there is urgency. This is generally an indication in the companies mind on how you are going to treat our customers so we will start to consider retracting the offer.    

As soon as we start receiving radio silence, mentally and emotionally, I have moved on. If I receive radio silence after I throw down an, I go into Club Mode. Think of your classic scene in a club where a guy asks a girl to dance. We have all seen this one play out. 

Our recruiter asks our candidate to the Big Dance. “Hey, you are so beautiful (qualified), you want to dance (you want a job)”?  If I get the silent treatment, if I am ignored, like anyone I will feel rejected and embarrassed so I come back hard.  “Well f#$% you then, you were ugly anyway”.  Moving forward, I don’t just get ugly, I get dirty-ugly. 

I can’t take a chance on the candidate dragging out the process and then NOT accepting the offer.  The hiring manager will look to HR for an explanation and I don’t want to look like the dumbass that couldn’t anticipate this scenario. The way I can lessen the damage to my reputation is by being pro active and reporting to the hiring manger:

“I haven’t heard back from the candidate we gave the offer to, so I have started looking at new candidates and just renewed the job posting.”

I gotta look out for number one here.  And just to be clear, I am number 1, the hiring manager is number 2, and the candidate is number 3. You have heard of women and children first? Step aside, child coming through. I am not going down because of an unknown commodity that didn’t have the courtesy or guts to simply say: “HRNasty, I am really interested in your company, but I think I am going to get a compelling offer from someone else. Can I have 2 extra days”?  Or “Nasty, hey, you had a compelling offer, but like I mentioned in the interview, I was also talking with Acme Printing.  They gave me an offer and I am going to go to Acme”.

If you want to string out the process, please do not think that I have forgotten about your offer or your buddy that put your name in the hat. If you are an internal referral or have received an offer, until I get some closure, you are all I am thinking and worrying about. 

 

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Tough Interview Question

“That’s all you know about the company? This isn’t a tough interview question”

Tough interview question

The classic “Tell me what you know about our company” should not be a tough interview question. With preparation it should be very easy and is one we know we should absolutely expect in any job interview.  I ask it of every candidate that interviews with us and I do this for one specific reason.

I want to see how much research the candidate conducted on our company. This question is a litmus test:  The more in depth the answer, the more sincere interest in the position. No answer or a short answer usually indicates no interest.

With the Internet at our disposal, company web pages, and simple Google searches, it doesn’t take effort or a rocket scientist to figure out what any company does these days.

The below answers will usually end an interview.

  • “I didn’t have much time to see what you guys do, can you tell me about your company?”
  • “I really don’t know, that is why I am here, to see if you guys are interesting.”

Sadly, I hear the above on a regular basis. If the candidate were the tiniest bit interested in the company or the position, it would only be human nature to look into the opportunity. A minimum level of “natural curiosity” research would be able to answer our basic interview question.

If an employee was asked to meet with a customer, there would be an expectation to show SOME interest in the customer. This would not only show our customer that we as a company give a damm, but would give us talking points and questions about recent developments with this customer which would help the meeting go smoothly.  The last thing we would want is any employee meeting with a paying customer and asking the customer, “Hey, I don’t know what you guys do, can you fill me in”?

Answering this interview question also shows that that we know how to conduct a competitive analysis on the competition.

Back to my usual dating analogies: If we are hot on someone, you can bet that there is going to be some amount of Facebook stalking involved, AKA “research”.  You can bet we are going to do an image search on Google and look for a blog, a Pinterest account, or some social media avenue that we can dig into.  It is only when we are NOT interested in someone, that we just show up wearing our every day wife beater, dirty sneakers and no prior knowledge.  AKA, no research.

You may not let on that you know everything about this Hottie, but I am confident you will be dropping hints that you are interested in the same things that our crush is into. You may be suddenly quoting Dostoevsky, finding yourself at the Museum of Modern Art or talking about an appreciation of the some niche indie film.  All topics we knew nothing about prior, but these are the sacrifices we make for the Crush.  We would be trying to create connections and common talking points with Ms. Hottie, AKA “perpetrating”, but at least we did our research.

The answer I receive 75% of the time is one that doesn’t kill an interview, but doesn’t move the hiring process forward.  It is what makes me think this is a tough interview question, when it really is a basic one.

“I know Acme Data was started in 1997, and that you guys are in the BigData space. I don’t know if you are profitable yet because you are privately held but you work with big Fortune clients so I am assuming you are.  You have won a couple of “Best Place to Work” awards and your CEO is John Doe”.

Now at first glance this may sound OK, but lets break this answer down.

  • This answer took a total of 4 seconds to blurt out.
  • Our candidate did ace the year the company started.  “WhooHoo”. 
  • I asked what “DO” you know and I heard that the candidate doesn’t know if we are profitable. 
  • We did hear about larger clients, but frankly, these logos are usually on the home page or partner page of any website.
  • They figured out the name of our CEO and that we won a “Best Place to Work” award.  Thanks for checking out the “team” and “career” page.   

All the above research took about 40 seconds.

Back to the hottie that we are stalking on Facebook.  If your bestie was to ask about your new crush, you could wax eloquently for minutes about likes, dislikes, interests, friends, and of course your competition.  We wouldn’t look at bestie with a blank stare and say, “We haven’t gone on a date yet so I don’t know anything.  Duhhh”!

The candidate may have more information and conducted hours of research but the impression I am left with is that they hit 3 pages on our website and nothing else. Lesson learned: I am Nasty, a mind reader I am not.

“Talk to me about the company” is a “check box” question.  As someone conducting an interview, I want to ask it and move one. This is a gimme interview question.  This should be as easy as filling turning in your references.  What I am left with is hesitation as my number 2 pencil approaches the check box and your reference aren’t as high on you as you thought they were. 

This is going to be one of the first questions asked and can set the tone for the rest of the interview.  Answer this one well, answer this one with thoughtfulness and then throw in a few confirming questions for good measure and you will set the stage for a 2nd and 3rd interview.

So, what do I want to hear when I ask this so called tough interview question?  What will impress me?  How much SHOULD you know?  Frankly, you should know so much that I shut you down with an “OK, you did your research, you know who we are” as my pencil makes a check mark.

The below are all of the things I like to hear about when I ask about our company.  When I say “all of the things”, I don’t mean to pick 2 or 3.  I mean, I like to hear about everything.  Pull out your notes (which shows research) and confirm your research with me.  This sets a collaborative tone vs. a robotic question and answer dialogue.

  1. Year founded
  2. Name of CEO
  3. Name of the person heading up the department we are interested in
  4. A few of the lines of business that the company is involved in and how they are doing.
  5. A few of our clients and specifically what we are doing with them.
  6. Our competition, where they are strong and where they are weak.
  7. Recent news within the company
  8. If the company is public, revenue, market cap, stock symbol, stock price and an analyst rating or two
  9. Regardless of the company’s reputation, tell me about how you feel this is a great place to work based on something you read. You cold be applying at a Mongolian prison, but figure out something good to say about us as a workplace.

Inside news you uncovered via your network or research that isn’t available via our webpage is always a highlight. Confirming the following can set up a conversational dialogue between colleagues vs. allowing the interview to languish in an unemotional Q&A land between interviewer and candidate.

  1. A challenge that the department or company is facing and how we are fixing it
  2. New products or features that are coming out
  3. What our companies approach to the industry is vs. our competition.

We do not want to bring up anything negative about the company.  No one wants to hear that their baby is ugly upon first meeting someone and recruiters are no different.  Even if my baby is fat, wailing crybaby, my baby is beautiful, my baby is perfect.

The above will get the appropriate box checked and show you can do a competitive analysis.  The above answer will also impress the crap out of me.  List the 12 items above and you will set the tone for the rest of the interview!

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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