I’ve been on both sides of the interview table a number of times and I can tell you that there’s a huge divide between the best experiences I’ve had and the worst ones. If we’re being honest, there’s a pretty big divide between the mediocre ones and the worst ones too.
One of the largest variables that you can change which will have an almost immediate impact is Trust.
Trust the candidate. Seriously. You want the candidate to trust you, but to get that Trust, you are going to have to extend Trust first. Otherwise, you’re going to be operating from a position of mutual distrust and, as a general rule, that doesn’t work out very well.
I know there are people reading this who are going to say “We can’t trust them. People lie all the time and we can’t take that kind of risk”
Yes, people lie sometimes. My advice still stands – you will gain more from extending Trust to your candidates than you will lose doing so. You’ll most certainly gain more by trusting them than you’d lose by not trusting them.
I’ve hired quite a few people. In all of that time, I’ve had a single not-so-great hire that I can think of off of the top of my head. Not to be immodest, but that’s not a bad track record.
I have, however, seen a number of things from hiring managers and recruiters that I wouldn’t consider a red flag so much as a marching band complete with flag corps and maybe a few horses decked out in feathers and sequins.
A couple of notable examples:
Demanding to see a potential candidate’s ID to prove they are who they say when you call them to discuss positions with companies that you are sourcing for. You also don’t need to have them fill out paperwork complete with reference list just to discuss opportunities that you may have.
Crawling into every nook and cranny of experience a candidate has had over a decade (or longer) career. A simple conversation about what they’ve done and the challenges they’ve dealt with can generally tell you whether or not a candidate passes the sniff test – especially early in the process. If you can’t tell this from a conversation, you probably shouldn’t be the one having it…
During the course of the conversation, you can dig into the things they go over in order to gauge their skill level, but that doesn’t really take an interrogation either. You’re talking to someone you want to be your peer. Act like it.
The sad thing is that the two examples above aren’t exaggerations at all. In fact, I’ve had people try to do the second one more times than I care to think about. If we expand it out to my circle of friends, both of these things have happened a depressing number of times.
Thankfully, since my friends and I have the ability to do so, those recruiters and managers are quickly (and usually politely) informed that we are not going to tolerate that sort of behavior, the interview/conversation is ended, and they go on our List of people to not work with again. This has the added benefit of dissuading them from doing it to others.
Remember that an interview process is a two-way street. The candidate should be deciding whether they want to work with you just as much as you are deciding on them. If you display a lack of Trust during your conversations, what are they going to reasonably expect if they said “yes” to working with you?