Why Is The Candidate The One At Fault?

I ran into this post on linked in.


Eight sure fire ways the candidate blows the interview?  What about eight sure fire ways the people doing the hiring lost the candidate.  I’ve been on far too many interviews in my time and frankly more 70% of the time, it’s the people across the table that were blowing the situation, badly.

Look the candidate comes in with a lot of expectation.  He’s looking for a new relationship and has every reason to make it work.  After all it’s his future and life that’s at stake.  So it’s a real letdown when an interview goes sour.

But is it the candidate’s fault?  Maybe some of it, but when I’ve felt an interview going sour, it’s been quite obvious that the wrong signals have been coming across the table. So with that in mind Here’s my list for things hiring manager and hiring teams should not do.

  1. Coming to lobby late.  Look the candidate is investing his time, which may be limited, in you.  You should treat his time as valuable as yours.  If you are planning an extended interview process you should make sure that the candidate knows what’s coming and what’s expected.
  2. Not setting time aside and making sure that you keep the interruptions to as few as possible.  The candidate is setting aside his time aside for you, you need to do the same.  If you can’t keep people out of your office, do the interview in a conference room.
  3. Not preparing for the interview.  Look, I realize that people are busy, but hauling out the resume and reading it during the interview is a big turnoff, especially when it’s just as the interview starts.  It doesn’t take more than five minutes to read a resume and the first five minutes of the interview are far better time communicating with the candidate than having your face in a resume. Face to face time is valuable, don’t waste it.
  4. Don’t read the resume back to the candidate.  He’s already seen it.  If there’s something you are interested in ask in relation to your business, not referencing the candidates resume. Make notes on a separate piece of paper and clip it to the resume. Use that paper instead of the resume for the interview.
  5. Making stupid tests for the candidate.  Some things are valid for testing.  But everybody learns things a different way and the way you think may be different than the candidate’s.  That doesn’t mean he is wrong or that you are right.  Which brings me to the next point.
  6. Getting into stupid arguments with the candidate.  Look the candidate is already stressed out. scoring points in a stupid argument over some trivial point doesn’t prove anything .
  7. Mobbing the candidate.  Or giving the candidate the runaround.  Sure, you want everybody to meet the candidate, but it gets confusing and from the candidates point of view, repetitive. When you keep having to answer the same question over and over it’s frustrating.  Keep it to two or three people, max, at least for the first round.
  8. And finally, the big one.  Putting the candidate in an adversarial position.  Look the company’s main goal should be in any hiring context to make people WANT to work there.  Template interviews with their “are you beating you wife/girlfriend /alien” questions are real turnoffs. Just drop the 20 questions of the procedural interview.  Everybody knows that they are coming and more than likely has pat answers anyway. You don’t really want to keep pissing people off, yet that’s exactly what you are doing with those kinds of questions.  the longer this goes on, the more likely that the candidate is just going want to get out of your building  as fast as possible.   Look even if you turn the candidate down this time, you may want him back and in my personal experience, I may not remember the good interviews and companies that I’ve dealt with, but I do remember the bad ones and the experience I had.

If the goal of the hiring process is to get the best people then you have to treat the potential hire as a person.  Yet it seems that the process works in such a way that it’s as inhumane as possible.   The idea seems to be that putting candidates through the wringer gets you better employees.  That’s the mythology that’s been the case during my entire career.  Unfortunately, the results don’t seem to back it up.   Taking this approach seems to make more problems than they solve.

How many of the bad hires that seem to be a real problem were the result of a bad interview process, a process that made feel people like commodities instead of individuals.   I suspect that even the people that actually got hired through the process are more than a little put off by it.  I don’t think that it’s an accident that the new hires go sour soon after the interview when the resentment is still fresh in the new employee’s mind.  Not having a second chance to make a first impression works for candidates as well as employers and if you blow it during the interview, it’s going to be hard to convince the new employee that they are in a good place.

A few simple things could make things go better:


  1. Make sure the candidate knows how to get to your desk.  Not just the plant, to your desk.  That means directions to the plant, who they will encounter in the lobby, who they phone if nobody’s in the lobby, what the door procedures are. Remember that the candidate doesn’t know any of these things.
  2. Make sure that your application is USABLE.  That means that it’s easy to fill out quickly, easy to fit the required data in and that there is a good space in the lobby to do this.  I’ve had to fill so many applications trying to fit information in spaces where stuff can’t fit on clipboards in lobbies with those modern designed low chairs that put your knees in your chest that  I think that it’s a torture test.
  3. Make sure that the lobby person knows that the candidate is coming and that there will be somebody in the lobby when the candidate shows up.  A blank locked door with a buzzer is a big turn off. Remember that the candidate doesn’t know what to do and has never been to your door before.
  4. Start the interview with a tour.  Not just the cubicle farm, the shop floor and everything.  Make the candidate feel like he’s coming to a great place that you are proud of. You like your place, show it off.
  5. Swag.  The company probably has some.  Pens, Tee shirts, hats. Desk toys and sample packets work too. Make up a bag and hand it to the candidate when he leaves.  Give the candidate something for coming to your plant.  You would be surprised how long those pens and stuff get used, and remembered.
  6. Information packets.  Put a copy of the company’s catalog in a packet. along with a sheet with everybody’s name, phone # and email address that the candidate is going to meet.  Chances are that, in the rush of things,  the candidate won’t remember everything.  Make sure that everybody’s business cards are in the packet, as well as the contact info for sales. Remember that today’s candidate may be tomorrow’s customer.



Look, even after an interview ends, it isn’t over.  In most businesses, the pool of people working in the industry isn’t so large that the word will not get out, one way or another.  Bad interview reviews on Glassdoor may be the least of your problems.  That candidate treated badly may end up working for your competition or even worse working your customers. Do you honestly think that that poor sap has any desire to do your company any favors?

When an interview is blown, it can end up as a lose/lose for everybody. Yes the poor candidate loses out, but the company loses too.  The company loses a potential friend, customer, vendor, or client, some of it’s reputation and goodwill.  When a candidate walks out your door, beaten, tired and disappointed, you may not ever see what you lose, but you have.   It’s time to stop blaming the poor candidates for your failures.



  1. penneyvanderbilt · December 18, 2015

    Reblogged this on KCJones.


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  5. jccarlton · February 21, 2017

    Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:

    Reblogging because it’s just common sense.


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