Though there are numerous battle stories from those who have gone through the job front it is always important to put them into perspective. It is imperative for Search Committees and Search Firms to remember that they should treat job seekers the way that they would like to be treated. In today’s economy one never knows who is next in the job carousel.
In a recent interview, anything that could go wrong certainly did. Unfortunately, despite an appointment made by the “head hunter” for a telephone interview – we failed to connect. She later called and apologized for the slight and we rescheduled for the next day. The next day came and by all standards the interview went quite well and I was told that I was being advanced to the next phase of the process and that I could expect a call from “her boss” in the next few days. No later than five minutes passed and I received a phone call from the search firm informing me that “some industry candidates have surfaced” and that she will get back to me with further details, so don’t expect a call from her boss in the near term. Any conclusion you would like to make would be appropriate since the only communication I eventually heard from the firm was initiated by me a few weeks later with the result being that yes they had advanced and ultimately hired an insider. This search firm’s identity will remain anonymous but there is no way I can paint this group as being empathatic or even mildly caring of those who they put through the rigors of the process. So much for treating people the way that you would like to be treated!
I am fondly reminded of an interview I had in a downtown Colorado Springs hotel for a national certification board years ago that went so well that I was asked to come back for dinner 30 minutes later. Let me explain. It was your typical interview with one candidate and 3 or 4 members of a selection committee and it must have been a positive experience because after I went upstairs and changed out of my suit I was summoned back to the interview room to join the group for dinner because their next candidate never arrived. Despite the fact that I was back into that suit within seconds I must admit that the dinner interaction was one of the most pleasant expereinces I have ever had with a selection committee. Since the ice was broken an hour earlier we communicated like “old friends” while literally breaking bread. There was a very comfortable approach to the session and despite not ultimately getting the job (it wasn’t something I could not see myself doing for any length of time), I can honestly say that all parties were pleased with the evening. Maybe this accidental episode can be a template for future candidate selections, it certainly was a pleasant and memorable experience for me.
My wife still hasn’t forgiven another search firm for calling on Mother’s Day a few years ago and informing me that I had not been appointed to a position that I coveted. Of course the rejection call arriving during a Mother’s Day Party for 2 generations of mothers could not have been a positive in any light. One must give credit to the firm for calling, many these days only send perfunctory e-mail but timing certainly must be questioned. To this day I have not applied for a position that this firm represents for the fear that they may call once again at an inapppropriate time; anything to keep domestic tranquility.
One of the most common complaints from candidates who do not get the job is what was the rationale used in the decision-making? Of course it always hurts when you are rejected but if you can learn from the experience you may be able to be a better candidate or a more astute and articulate interviewer next time around. Most firms or search committees will not inform you of the reasons for their decision but I haven’t stopped asking. In all the numerous interviews that I have participted in over the years I must admit that I have only received one response of any value to the why question. That answer was that I was not engaging enough. Of course those who know me found that answer a bit lacking. The real answer is that they really don’t have an answer. Interviewing and candidate selection remains an art and not a science. It is a gut feeling and how do you explain that to the person you just rejected?
Let’s admit it, this is a people process. People are involved and unfortunately at times people make mistakes and do not think about all aspects of their actions. Despite past occurences I still have great faith in not just the search process but the vast majority of people within that process. Most are true professionals who care about their clients and for the candidates they interview and to my dying day I will always mainain the credo that most people do treat people the way that they would like to be treated. It may be the golden rule but it is also a rule that you may want in place the next time you are on the other side of the equation.