multiple interviews

If you are still interviewing, you are still in the game and that much closer.

Multiple Interviews have always been the norm with companies that care about culture

I recently read an MSNBC.com  article about a candidate that went through not just multiple interviews, but 10 interviews and didn’t get the job.  Per the article, the experience wasn’t a good one.  I was NOT surprised at the 200+ comments that felt the candidate was short changed because she had invested a lot of time, emotion and money into the process.  What did surprise me was that this was an HR candidate.

Here’s the rub.  I feel that if anyone should understand what is going on here it should be someone in HR.

There were a number of things this candidate didn’t appreciate about the process and multiple interviews

  1. Number of interviews:  10
  2. “candidate experience”: feels they should have made a hiring decision much earlier in the process.
  3. Financial Investment:  Ended up buying 2 new suits, a new pair of shoes, $40 in stationary and postage, 2 paid time off days, and 200.00 in taxi fare.

The same candidate went through a similar experience with a sales coaching job and the article cites yet another candidate going through a similar experience.

The article ends with the question, “is this the new norm?”

I do feel for this candidate.  We have all been through multiple interviews and invested sweat, money and time only to be declined.  I get that.

What irked me about this article was that all three candidates that were mentioned came from HR / Training and Development.  Of all the professions out there, HR should get this and not be questioning it.

So let me try and break this down HRNasty style.

First: is it just me or is something wrong with this picture.  An HR person is TAKING PAID TIME OFF to look for another job, complaining about it, and then getting their name PUBLISHED on the topic.  Maybe I misread this but that is some f****d up s**t.  Who gives their name to a national publication when they are employed AND looking for a job?

Now that I got that out of my system. . .

Yes, the candidate experience was inconsiderate, but as an HR person, we know that this happens on a regular basis.  We should expect this, be prepared for this and have a defense against it.

1.  10 interviews:  For the record, the company I work with does conduct 10 interviews before making a hiring decision, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  In a candidates very first meeting, we explain that they should expect multiple interviews and just as importantly, “why”. We don’t do this because of the economy, or because we can’t make up our mind.  We have been hiring folks with this mentality for the past 10 years.   We do not string this out over months, but a week, maybe two at the very most.  We also try to have more than one person interview the candidate at a time.  10 people interviewing a candidate may only take 4 interviews and 2 visits, maybe 3 tops.

I want the candidate to know EXACTLY what they are getting into and whom they will be working with.  I will coach the candidate to ask the team questions about working conditions, manager style, company culture, etc.  They should hear a consistent message from the entire team, and no, we don’t coach the folks conducting interviews on how to answer these questions.  We would only be hurting ourselves in the long run if we did.  We feel this helps the on boarding process and gets a much better match between the company, team and the new hire.

A lot of the comments on this article stated that folks wouldn’t want to work with a company that conducted 10 interviews.

I don’t want to work with a company that only conducts 1 or 2 interviews before making a hiring decision

If I only talk with the hiring manager and the VP, I have no real idea what is going on, who the players are, or the  personalities on the team.  In my opinion, hiring after only 1-2 interviews is a contributing factor to low job satisfaction / high turnover.

Corporate Translation:  I will ask for multiple interviews because I want team buy in.  No team wants HR showing up unexpected on a Monday morning with the announcement “here’s Johnny new hire, show him the ropes” and then leaving with a smirk.  Johnny doesn’t want that.  I want the team looking forward to working with Johnny and the way to do that is to have the team get to know him, like him, want him and look forward to working with him through the interview process.

Street Translation:  No girl wants me asking her for her hand in marriage after only 1 or 2 dates. (I am not uber rich or remotely good-looking.  I wear a mask for a reason) She wants multiple dates.  As much as she wants me stepping down on one knee in a very public place with 2 months salary in hand, she wants to get to know my friends and my family first.  She wants to know what she is getting into.   She does not want to be introduced for the very first time at a family dinner with me announcing, “Hey Mom and Dad, we just eloped, meet Mrs. Nasty”

2.  Candidate Experience:  Make hiring decision early

An HR manager going through the interview process should have the savvy to figure out what the interview expectations are up front.   There are questions you can ask, and moves you can make to control and accelerate the interview process and an HR manager should get this.

You can and should ask about the interview process.  “can you tell me about the interview process” Vs. “how long is this interview process going to take” is probably a better approach.  Any Biz Dev veteran will ask about a potential RFP process.

Letting the company you are interviewing with know that you are also talking with other companies will put subtle pressure on your recruiter to keep the process moving.  They don’t want to lose you at the last minute to another company and then have to start all over.

3:  Financial investment:

“I bought two new suits and a new pair of shoes”. . .  Give me a break.  If you are looking for a new job, you need these clothes.  Don’t look at it like you HAD to buy these outfits, look at it as an investment in your career.  The way the article is written, it sounds like they are talking about my wife who is just looking for an excuse to buy another pair of shoes.   “I HAD to buy these!  I had an interview, I can’t wear the same pair of shoes to these interviews!”  “Cracka Please”. . . “Ninja Please!”  No, I won’t go as far as OchoCinco with a  “Child Please”.   If you are wearing a short skirt, with black nylons and stiletto heels, I WILL notice your Jimmy Choos.  If you are wearing your Nike running shoes with a suit in the financial district fitting in your daily exercise with a power walk at lunch, I can’t help but notice your shoes.  Other than that. . .  don’t flatter yourself.  I highly doubt that any company is going to decline you because you didn’t have a new pair of shoes.  I hear “but they were on sale” every weekend.  “I have an interview” ??? Ridonkulous.

Careers are like any business.  Businesses invest money to make money and not all bets are going to pay off.  Some deals you go after are going to close and some are going to the 1-yard line and fall flat.  This may sound cold, but of all the folks that SHOULD understand this, HR is at the top of the list.  Not all of your customers are going to play fair ball.

The best candidates won’t let the interview loop treat them as if they are being processed and at the mercy of the system.  Great candidates keep a casual dialogue going with the recruiter just like you would with any new acquaintance.   It’s not only OK to set expectations about next meetings or contacts, if you aren’t doing this then I can only assume you won’t close internal or external customers if hired.  Just don’t be too pushy about it.

If you find yourself getting to the same stage of the interview loop and being declined at a consistent point, re evaluate what you could be doing differently at this particular stage of the interview loop.

Good Luck,

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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  • Scooter

    It really sounds like you’re mixing up interviewers and interviews. 10 interviewers is not unusual if it’s spread over 2-3 interviews.
    10 separate interviews is a bit much, and could involve anywhere from 10-40 interviewers I suppose.
    I see no issue with going to 2-3 interviews, possibly with panels of up to 5 people. But I’d take issue with being called back 10 times to be interviewed for a job, which is what it sounds like she was upset about.
    I wouldn’t put my name in the paper having a whinge about this though. Hopefully it was a pseudonym.

  • Maradene

    My friend went through 47 phone interviews before being hired at my company. I thought it was a bit much, but he got to talk to some of our most senior leaders. He was very people oriented, so I think he saw it as a learning opportunity.