Everyone knows the saying, “You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression.”
Over the decades of my involvement in the technology staffing industry, I have experienced many wonderful examples of professionalism on both the candidate and the client side. I have seen a few funny episodes also. What really makes me cringe however, are the stories of ineptitude and / or ambivalence by hiring companies encountered by individuals during their interview. All of which leads me to the topic, “What in the world were they thinking when they did that?”
Recently a very successful technology executive I know interviewed for a Vice President role with a firm I am happy to report is not a client of The InSource Group. With limited editing on my side, here is the feedback shared when I did a personal follow up just to see how the meeting went.
The candidate arrived for their interview 15 minutes early and checked in with the receptionist — who promptly went on a break and disappeared leaving the candidate alone in the lobby. The corporate recruiter finally appeared 10 minutes after the interviews were scheduled to begin (Editor’s note: that’s 25 minutes by himself to consider the wisdom of his interest in interviewing with this company). The first interview was with two Sr. Directors (one in person and the other called in). The next interview was with their Chief Security Officer. The C.S.O. had to leave 10 minutes early for another meeting and hastily excused himself.
There was a gap over lunch (which the candidate knew about), so they brought him back to the lobby and told him to come back in 2 hours for the next interview. As before, the candidate arrived 15 minutes early. Once again, 10 minutes after the next interview is scheduled to start (Editor’s note: is there something special about this recurring 25 minute time frame I just don’t understand?) the corporate recruiter comes out to the lobby and tells the candidate the SVP (his next interview) is out sick. (Editor’s note: so they did not know the SVP was out ill when they told him to come back in two hours after lunch?)
The candidate asked if there was anyone else important to meet with since the earlier sessions were cut short. So the corporate recruiter stays in the lobby, trying to call people from the house phone while the candidate sits in the lobby also (another Editor’s note: you might consider rethinking the wisdom of displaying your firm’s lack of preparation in full view to the candidate). Eventually the candidate got to meet two first-line managers in person and a third who called in. (I am beginning to love these Editor’s notes: I bet those three managers were well prepared to put their company’s best image forward to this VP candidate)
After the final session, the candidate asked when they could reschedule the missed meeting with the SVP. The corporate recruiter said they would call after checking with the SVP to see if they still wanted to reschedule. (Editor’s note: NEVER tell the candidate you are not sure whether the SVP wants to reschedule the interview. Just acknowledge the request, thank them for their patience and interest given the challenges with the interview schedule, and let them know you will personally follow up with them)
Two days after the interview with still no contact from the corporate recruiter, the candidate calls the company. The SVP was still out ill, but the corporate recruiter indicated they will speak with the SVP and call the candidate back that afternoon. After four more days of no contact from the company, the candidate sends the corporate recruiter an email, reaffirming their interest in the opportunity and asking for an update. (Editor’s note: I am not sure I would still be interested in this company given their lack of follow through and professionalism)
It has now been over a week since the last phone call and the company’s corporate recruiter still has not had the professional courtesy to contact the candidate with any news; good or bad.
There simply is no excuse for this type of behavior, regardless of the level of position being interviewed. We all recognize the value of a great corporate image; which in turn generates benefits in all areas of a company’s operation. And a company’s culture and image begin with, and are developed and nurtured at the executive leadership level.
Perhaps the only good news in this story is that a great opportunity exists for their VP of Human Resources to correct what is clearly an out of control process, and establish some much needed leadership. Let’s hope they do so.