CBI Way blog spot by Glenn Koetz, Search Practice Lead and Lisa Van Ess, Outside-In® Group Lead
We have all had those days when we are sitting with our trusted colleagues talking about the nightmare candidate who came to the interview with a bulls-eye tattooed on his forehead, or the one whose answer to “Why would you like to work for us?” is “I am eating dog food at this point and will have to change to cat food if I don’t get a job”, or the one whose interview turns into a disaster right from the start. We all chuckle and agree that if we wrote a book on what we have seen throughout the candidate management process, we would make millions and could all retire… Yet sometimes in that same conversation we actually get to the, “Well, how did you handle that?”, and the wisdom shared at that point is a rare gift.
One of my favorite sayings is “You can’t manage crazy.” Unfortunately, if you have chosen a career in HR or recruiting you are called upon to do just that. Here are some proven tactics I have found helpful in managing Candidate Crazy.
Remember, as a recruiting professional you have the ability to say No.
This means you can tell the person who comes in for the interview with the bulls-eye on their forehead, “No, you are not meeting with the hiring manager.” It is up to you to screen out candidates and not waste your hiring manager’s time. In this case, I took the time to meet with this individual and tell him that the position required the quick building of face-to-face relationships in a very conventional firm and that he would be better suited to work in a more casual environment; mentioning both he and the company would be happier. The candidate thanked me, we parted ways and all lived happily ever after…
Educate, coach, and use a personalized No Thank You letter if needed.
For my dog food gal…she was a really talented, experienced candidate who made it beautifully through the phone and in-person recruiting interviews. When she got in front of the decision makers – the dog food versus cat food answer was the one she gave when asked why she wanted to work for the company. I called her to let her know she did not get the job and specifically why. I will tell you that I was very sympathetic and agreed to present her to another hiring manager with the coaching, even direction that she answer the question with why working that job for that company was important to her – we even rehearsed her answers. (File this under no good deed goes unpunished).
Fast forward to interview number two: Interviewer: “Why do you want this job at our company?” Dog food Gal: “To keep me and my kids from living in a refrigerator box in an alley.” This is when the call explaining to the candidate she did not get the job (and why) is followed by the specific No Thank You Letter to ensure that they understand they will not be coached any further and that the official rejection is required.
Maintain control when an interview starts to unravel.
And then, there are always those interviews that are complete disasters right from the start. The candidate comes in an hour and a half after the scheduled time and fails to communicate that they’re running late…or the candidate becomes emotionally unstable halfway through the interview because they realize they are not going to make it through to the next round…or maybe, the candidate becomes desperate and starts to beg you to review their resume credentials when both parties know the damage has already been done.
In these situations, it’s important to communicate to this person that the mistakes they’ve made, can be used as lessons learned or motivation for their next job interview. If they’re going to be late, they ought to communicate it! There’s nothing worse than a no-show, without any reason for it, right? When emotions get out of hand, its important to remind them that this interview is not the end-all be-all, and that the reason they are not moving forward is not because of something they lack. And finally, when it comes to credentials, (this scenario is often found most with recent college grads or young professionals), tell them that its about their potential value and capacity to grow within an organization that’s important, not always what they’ve already accomplished. Reinforcement is key to managing this type of nightmare candidate.
I am sure we have all been on either or both sides of this, the moral to the story is to take a proactive, openly communicative position with all your candidates to ensure the very best time, energy and matches among hiring managers and hire-ees!