Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interviewer's Etiquette & Hiring Manager

Would you agree that only interviewing candidates have to demonstrate their best behaviour when going to an interview?  I disagree with this viewpoint ...

Interviewing is a two way process and both parties are responsible with their demonstrated behaviors.  In many decades that passed, candidates were always coached on the best ways to interview with the prospective Hiring Manager and with the Interviewing Panel Members.  Likewise, on many occasions during professional development of Hiring Managers (provided Hiring Managers have such a program in their organization) - they were taught the Do's and Don'ts of behaviors with the art of interviewing when they meet with candidates.

Let's take a look at the following experience of a candidate (named James) who went to an interview recently.

James walked into my office for his coaching module.  We discussed his current goals for 2010.  We looked at his short and long term goals between personal and professional categories.  We identified areas of his strengths, areas that he will need to work on, and get focused on to achieve his goals. We reviewed his organizational goals and how can he provide better impact to his organization this year.  

James is an experienced senior executive. He is on a new journey in his career.  He has outgrown his current position and he has decided to move on to a new employer.

Early in January 2010, James received a call and was invited by a corporate recruiter to participate in an interviewing process at their HQ because he is a leading candidate wtih exceptional experience in the function that was being hired.  He was notified that he would meet with four individuals of senior capacity involved in the newly created position that he was applying.Three of the individuals he met were pleasant and professionally prepared using a  style of competency-based interviewing.  The last person he met was the Hiring  and Reporting Manager for the position.

Conversation including views and perspectives were exchanged ... at one point during the process of interviewing, the Hiring and Reporting Manager (let's call him Tim, EVP) moved backwards on his chair and raised both feet and put them on top of his desk in front of  James.   James was shocked! However, he kept his posture intact.

Tim continued to interview James. Tim had both his hands interlocked behind his head ... at some point he began arguing with the perspectives of James about the job function. James thought about leaving the interview because he felt the interviewer was insulting and displayed very unprofessional behavior. However, he kept himself focused on the topics and demonstrated confidence, depth of knowledge, experience and expertise. The hiring manager then asked James if he had any questions.  James politely asked when they are looking  to fill the position? Tim replied he cannot answer that question.

James left the interview location with distaste and disinterest with the position and environment. His original impression with the company, and three earlier professionals he met had completely changed after meeting in person with the Hiring and Reporting Manager.

Nevertheless, as a professional and experienced executive, he sent thank you e-mails with appreciation in providing him the opportunity to meet with them in person and understanding further about their company and their culture. Two among the three interviewers replied to his thank you email. But the HR Business Partner for this Unit did not care to at least acknowledge the email.

Two weeks later, the corporate recruiter offered the job to James.  James reviewed the offer letter .. he slept on it .. ..to make a decision ..

He decided to decline the offer because of demonstrated behavior of the EVP and the HRBP.  James decided that he would not jeopardize his professional stature to work with someone who does not have respect to individuals during the interview process.  He folded the page and moved on to the next employment prospect. James concluded that there are other employers out there who have the right business practices and will provide the right respect to individuals in their organization.

Perspectives and Questions on Interviewers' Behavior:
1. Professionally, I have not met someone like Tim, EVP with that type of behavior particularly during the interview process. If I am in the shoes of Tim and being an EVP - I would not demonstrate such behavior.
2. Tim demonstrated arrogance and disrespect to the candidate.
3. What would be the other behaviors of Tim if he can arrogantly demonstrate his insecurities when conducting an interview? As a professional strategic consultant, I would love to open his can of worms.
4. Keeps me wondering if Tim gained knowledge about basic and professional etiquettes when making conversation with other people and when conducting an interview. James noted that Tim was an alumnus of one of the top US Universities (hmmm!)
5. Keeps me wondering if there are employees that work with Tim who have similar experiences?
6. What motivated Tim to demonstrate his insecurities to James? Only he can tell. My guess was that Tim felt intimidated with the confidence and expertise of James. Or Tim might just be testing the nerves of James.
7. Who would want to fill Tim's open position given the behavior that was demonstrated?
8. Two other interviewers demonstrated professional and collegial courtesy by responding to James' email after the interview.
9. The HR Business Partner for the hiring business unit (Tim's Unit) did not acknowledge receipt of the email of James.
10. What type of behavior did the HRBP demonstrate?

Time has changed a lot during the past decade.  Professionalism has lost its integrity as a 'Trait and Character of a Professional'.  Many individuals have chosen to disgrace their professional integrity because of irresponsible behavior that are dismissive and unethical. Values are running out ... how do we regain and sustain them?

It is always a good approach and professional practice to respond to candidate's communications particularly to someone who went to interview with your firm. It sends a powerful message about the importance of people and branding of your organization.

Perspectives about the Interviewee's Behaviors:
1. James exceeded his own expectations by identifying the real business culture and practices within the company he interviewed with.
2. James made an exceptional decision to not join the company purely because of his experience at the interview.
3. James likes to share his knowledge, experience and expertise to an organization that will demonstrate respect, integrity and care for people.
4. James demonstrated exceptional professionalism during the interview processes and after the interview by sending emails of appreciation.

As a candidate for a job, it is always great to make an extra effort in knowing your prospective employer. Be sharp in identifying signals that are present during the interviewing process. Take a mental note of these as they will be a useful driver in making your decision for a beneficial environment to work for.

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