Interviews are like dating … sort of …

How many times have you gone on a date and felt like the person wasn’t really paying attention to you?

Awkward, right …

If it’s been sometime since you had a “date” think about it in the context of a business meeting, lunch, or a networking event. You met someone you were really interested in, you had an opportunity to get to know them better, but they don’t seem to be as interested in you as you are in them.

Believe it or not this is how some candidates feel during an interview. Can you believe that?!? Believe it. [tweetthis]You are making candidates feel like they are on an awkward first date.[/tweetthis]

Don’t be a big jerk!

Just like a prospect you find, cultivate and want to secure as your next big client you want that person to feel excited to start a great relationship with you. Candidates spend hours (days, weeks, months …) trying to find the next great employment relationship. Candidates send countless resumes to companies, post to online job boards, cull through their network on LinkedIn just to try to get noticed. Let’s not forget, the Internet is our friend but it’s also become a fairly strict gatekeeper from direct contact with HR or hiring managers. So when a candidate is asked to come in for an interview it’s a BIG deal! If you don’t extend the candidate the courtesy of being prepared, being interested, and doing some follow up – you look like a … well, I’m going to write this … a jerk. You look like a big jerk.

Don’t be the big jerk. Do this instead:

  1. If you start soliciting resumes to fill a job, have a plan in place for the interview and selection process before you invite people for an interview. What does that mean? That means think about who on your team will conduct the interviews, what elements of the candidates’ background will each interview team member cover, what questions will they ask, etc.
  2. Prepare your interview team ahead of time so everyone knows the game plan on interview day. Include your interview team on the overall plan of which candidates will be interviewed on what days, what elements of the candidates’ background will each person target with questions, and require that the team take notes during the interviews.
  3. When you start an interview, thank the person for taking time out of her day for meeting with you. Whether someone is currently working or not, she prepared for the interview, blocked time on her schedule, and is ready to answer all of your questions.
  4. Start the interview on time. Ask questions. Take notes on the answers. Ask follow up questions. Seem as though you’re interested in learning more about this person.
  5. After the interview, send a thank you message. It can be an email since that’s our most common mode of communication these days. If you don’t send a thank you message, then be polite and respond to the message sent by the candidate. HINT: The most courteous candidates tend to be the most courteous employees. Take note of this!
  6. Conduct a wrap-up meeting with your interview team to compare notes on each candidate. This will help you make a decision more quickly on whether to hire a candidate or not.
  7. After you make a hiring decision, tell the other candidates “No Thank You.” It’s okay if they’re not a fit. But at least communicate with them. Remember, you don’t want to be the big jerk who has the first date and then ignores text messages for the next month hoping that the person just goes away. (If you’re blushing, you know exactly what I’m writing about here … )

So look, I get it that not every candidate is going to be a good fit for your company. And it’s okay if you need to tell every single candidate that they’re not a fit and you’re going to keep recruiting. But communicate that to your candidates.

Here is the moral of this story. Interviewing, like dating or networking in your business life, requires preparation, a good plan, great communication and some follow up. Us this and I promise you’ll be more successful with both endeavors! [tweetthis]Are you the big jerk at your company? Click here to STOP it![/tweetthis]