Dear Hiring Managers and HR Teams:
Can we get together on something?
We need to rein in the interview process. It’s gotten out of control.
I know you want to keep your beloved culture intact, but sheesh…
It’s not uncommon for candidates to go through an initial phone/video screening, pass several rounds of interviews, take psychology assessments, be instructed to put together an engaging 20-page pitch deck and present it to a panel with a Q&A, meet the senior leadership team, take a tour, problem-solve real-world issues on the spot, and… since interviews now take 8 hours instead of one these days, have the nerve-racking, forced smile experience of eating lunch with their evaluators.
Did I leave anything out?
This process can take up to 3 months (several weeks minimum), peppered with last-minute requests, changing job requirements, cryptic instructions, unexpected disappearing acts from HR, and straight-up ghosting.
And then, after all of this — after weekends spent away from family building a PowerPoint presentation, after rehearsing answers to ridiculous but pervasive questions like “tell me 3 of your weaknesses,” after sleepless nights from fearing the tech interview, after scrubbing the web for “out of the box” exercises, like “tell me how many marbles it would take to fill a school bus,” after 20+ firm handshakes with eye contact, after setting up a professional-grade Zoom studio, after all the followup notes, the tracking in Excel, the time off work, the money for parking, the dry cleaning, the power breakfasts, the mental health debriefings with friends…
After all that…there is no job offer.
For 3 months, this candidate has made your company their life.
They’ve given you their best ideas, their best performance, their best times slots, not to mention serious professional, financial, and emotional expense.
And then its, “Sorry, you’re just not the right fit.”
And you know what’s coming next, you know the question they have for you, their last hope at taking something from this whole disappointing experience: the humble request to know why.
You will inevitably give them one of two canned responses:
“We found someone with more experience.”
“You don’t have enough _____________.” (Something that’s usually obvious from looking at the resume.)
Yeah, I know you’re playing your cards close to your chest to avoid a discrimination lawsuit, but seriously, c’mon.
At the very least, after taking so much of someone’s time and ideas, can’t you at least guide them a bit, as you boot them out the door?
It’s “Buh-Bye,” and sometimes not even that.
If you’re a candidate reading this you’re nodding your head. If you’re a hiring manager, you’re shaking it.
An uneven equation, to say the least.
You, the employer, leave with more knowledge of who you need for the position, strategic plans for where to take your business, inside info on other companies, a broader understanding of the talent pool that’s out there, and sometimes free labor!
And the job candidate? They leave with the false hope that “maybe another position will open up and we’ll call you.”
You hold all the cards. How about a little compassion?
How about paying these folks if you’re going to have them work for you?
How about a probationary period instead of a 3-month interview?
How about looking at their past presentations instead of asking them to create a brand-new one for you?
How about letting them eat lunch alone?
How about treating them like a fellow member of your industry who has value separate of working for your company?
How about taking a little risk and making a better educated guess.
If you must see a benefit, think of this as a business opportunity.
People talk, especially people who don’t get the job.
Why not have them walk away loving the company instead of resenting it?
Why not have them wishing they could have gotten in vs rationalizing why you suck?
I’ll tell you this: the company that designs the first-ever respectful, energizing interview process is going to have an influx of applications and a massively robust referral network amongst people inside and outside their walls. And your new hires are going to love you all the more.
You’re not just filling a job requisition, you’re spreading the word. Whether you want it to be or not, your story is seasoned by the whispers of your detractors. You’re not privy to these conversations.
And you don’t know what you’re missing.