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.

For additional comments on the above article, questions and inquiries please send to: info@jntconsulting.com. Thank you.

For your comments regarding this article please add your comments at comments box provided at the bottom of the article.

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  1. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “Abandon the interview & FIRE THE EVP.”
    Posted by Ijaz Rana, Owner, Millennium Group, Source: LinkedIn-Connect to the World-2/22/10.

  2. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “A sad comment on the culture of the company that the EVP would deem it proper to address anyone with this type of nonsense.”
    Posted by Richard Gilbert, President, International Inventory Management, Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni - 2/21/10.

  3. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “Dear Juntee:

    I have been an executive career coach and recruiter for 23-years and I work primarily with Fortune 50 Companies. I'm not going to condone that type of behavior on the surface, but lets dig a little deeper. You don't become an EVP of anything overnight. This position comes with the confidence of the CXOs approval. Obviously, the EVP has done some good things in his career to merit his position and there is enough activity going on in his Division to warrant a new, high level executive to be hired.

    So, taking all of this into consideration and your many years of corporate work, you mean to tell me that you have never seen posturing before? The EVP is obviously trying to communicate a style or a strategy that either intimidates, helps his visitors to relax, helps himself to relax and focus on what he really wants to convey to his audience, helps him get the answers that he really wants or makes his audience rise to the occasion.

    I don't know what the guy was trying to convey, but upon receiving an offer, If I was your candidate during these sparse-employment-times, I would definitely want to find out what it was all about & get to the bottom of it. Obviously, the EVP got the responses that he was looking for to the point where he decided to extend the candidate an offer.

    I can see how this became a big deal because you have agreement on the surface that there is interest by both parties in making the position and the candidate a match.

    If I was the candidate, I'd probably want to go back to HR and discuss the behavior that he experienced in a bit more detail to see if the candidate missed something important.”
    Posted by Raymond-Michael Kornfeind (Raimundo-Miguel), President at Strategic Solutions International, Inc, Source: LinkedIn- Creating Results from Cultural Diversity Group 2/22/10.

  4. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “It depends if the leading candidate is a man or woman. But, in general, the EVP is trying to show his power to the candidate. In addition, the EVP is not respecting the candidate overall.”
    Posted by Lisa Littlefield, Managing Director, Littlefield International Group, Inc., Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group - 2/21/10.

  5. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    "It was Inappropriate behavior, showed a sign of Disrespect for the interviewee."
    Posted by Stan Orlowski, Consultant, Manager at Deutsch UNION, Uniting Networkers International Open Networking, Source: LinkedIn-Connect the World Group - 2/22/10.

  6. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    "Fire this person! Not only is this person rude and unprofessional, they are a terrible ambassador for your company. I agree with Raimundo-Miguel that part of the behavior may stem from a feeling of professional or personal inadequacy which appears in the form of posturing. This EVP is a big liability if he or she is scaring away your top talent."
    Posted by Howie Schaffer, Vice President, Cook Ross Inc, Source: LinkedIn-Creating Results from Cultural Diversity Group - 2/22/10.

  7. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “This behaviour by an EVP is inappropriate and inexcusable. I don't care if he was trying to test the candidate. This sends a message to any candidate about the EVP himself but also about the culture of this organization.
    I would want an explaination frm the EVP about his actions then give him some training in cultural competence as well as common good sense. This is not the action of an inclusive leader and should not be condoned. James made the right decision not to accept the job. I suspect he would have had a difficult time adjusting and transitioning to this company. The tragedy of this scenario is that Tim (the hiring manager) is still with the firm and the company lost the expertise of an excellent candidate.”
    Posted by Hamlin Grange, Diversity Change Management Consultant, DiversPro Inc., Source: LinkedIn-Creating Results from Cultural Diversity Group - 2/23/10.

  8. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    “I'm writing from the UAE and can say that, in this culture, to do so would be extremely insulting. It's about showing the person the bottom of your feet which is really bad here. Otherwise, I completely agree with the above comments about it being extremely poor etiquette.”
    Posted by John Douglass, International HR Executive, United Arab Emirates. Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group – 2/23/10.

  9. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    “Definitely not a Director, VP, Senior VP or EVP. Doubtful if even an effective manager. No excuse. Interesting question though... Have you seen this action or heard of it as an HR professional?”
    Posted by Tom (Thomas) Laux, Business Development, Sales, Marketing, ASC 3D: Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group – 2/21/10.

  10. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    “Whoever he/she is, that;s the behaviour of an a**hole. Fire him/her.”
    Posted By Brian McCorry, Account Executive at DataCert, Inc., Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group – 2/23/10.

  11. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    “If EVP stands for Engineering Vice President, you should be aware that normal rules do not apply when it comes to propeller heads.

    I was still a young, East Coast trained Manager the first time I interviewed a "real" software developer. *He* put *HIS* feet up on my desk and spent half the interview fooling with my computer mouse..... interesting experience, to say the least. Needless to say, he didn't get the job but in all probability I would care less about his manners and more about his abilities now, 30 years later.

    I once interviewed with the President of a company who spent the entire interview reading the newspaper. After about ten minutes of this unacceptably rude and disrespectful behavior, I walked out.

    Even in this bad economy, no one wants to work with an idiot or for someone who is incredibly arrogant and/or ill-mannered. I'm ex-Military... I take crap off of no one.. although in the case you raised here, I think I would probably put *MY* feet up on this guy's desk too. Certainly nothing to lose at this point so why not have some fun with it?
    Posted by Frank Saxton, Owner, Vigilance Monitoring, Source: LinkedIn-StartUps Specialist Group – 2/25/10.

  12. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    "At my first job, one of the software supervisors would put his bare feet up on the desk when interviewing candidates for a programming position. That was in the fast growth times in Silicon Valley.

    The real question is: what are you looking for in the way of people to be in your company? Are you looking for "East Coast buttoned down" people or are you looking for "West Coast creative types"? The interviewing techniques need to match the type of organization and people desired. For some positions, the best interviewing technique would be to take the candidates to a rock concert and see how they dance. So, the issue has to be a lack of fit between the interviewing technique and the position being offered."
    Posted by David Randolph, Prairie Trail Software, Inc., Source: LinkedIn-StartUps Specialist Group – 2/25/10

  13. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    "I have been asked to expand on my response of interesting; So I will.

    EVP or not, I think the behaviour is not acceptable and hence I do not support it. There are many ways to share culture of an organization,,,, in a respectful way. I agree with Hamlin, it certainly is not inclusive. In many cultures propping up the bottom of your feet as a form of “introduction” is very insulting. Economic challenges should not translate to treating people with less respect. With globalization and the diverse nature of business operations, management should demonstrate inclusive leadership as part of doing business.

    Secondly, I am a firm believer that the recruitment process is a partnership process whereby both the interviewer and interviewee are assessing whether there is a fit and hence contracting to go into partnership under the employment umbrella.

    My comment of interesting was on two levels. One- I am flabbergasted that this EVP remains in his position. Two- the dialogue in this track." Posted by Shirley Williams, MSc. PMP. CMC., See It~Believe It~Make It Happen~ A Strategic Engaging Leader. Source:Creating Results from Cultural Diversity-2/25/10.

  14. The following comment was appended to this article per authorization of the comment's owner:

    I had a phone conversation yesterday with a VP for a global biotechnology manufacturer. We were talking about a conversation that I had with HR and one of the hiring managers and he was appalled at the fact that the HR person had revealed a change in who the position reported to. I got the sense that he was extremely mindful and protective of the perception that his company demonstrated to the public. This VP also spent the last 3-weeks working with the FDA on some upgrades to one of their product lines. This VP is the face of his company, especially when they need his expertise to do the heavy lifting. He is also ensuring that important issues like confidentiality are kept in check. Perhaps this is more in line with expected VP behavior."
    Posted by Raymond-Michael Kornfeind (Raimundo-Miguel),President at Strategic Solutions International, Inc, Source: LinkedIn- Creating Results from Cultural Diversity Group-2/26/10.

  15. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    "The EVP may be trying to project a relaxed, informal atmosphere but in many countries this body language is perceived as rude/arrogant/a power play."
    Posted by Laura Rodriguez, Director, LATAM HR Ops Governance at Johnson & Johnson, Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group-3/1/10.

  16. The following comment was shared by the comment's owner and was appended to this article:

    "As a candidate, I would let the HR person know of my less than ideal experience. Who wants to work for an unclutured a-hole.
    I once had to tell a SVP in a trade show booth to stop pulling up his socks. No one wants to shake your hand after watching you adjust your socks. he got it and stopped it."
    Posted by Cara Tenuta, Director at Paxfire, Inc, Source: LinkedIn-Thunderbird Alumni Group-3/1/10.