Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Professional Courtesy/Etiquette: Letting the Candidates Know They Didn't Get the Job



The Professional Courtesy/Etiquette: Letting the Candidates Know They Didn't Get the Job
Darrel L. Hammon
 
You just interviewed an incredible pool of good candidates, some of them more than once. You finally pick “the one” and make an offer. After the offer has been accepted, what should you do with the other really good candidates who didn’t receive a final offer?

Often, in today's society we use text, e-mail, and letters to let candidates know they weren't selected. Professional courtesy or business etiquette dictates that you call those who were interviewed and let them know.

Those who interview potential candidates do it differently. Some interview via the telephone; others interview via the old-fashioned way: They actually invite you in for an interview. Whatever the method, there is a time-honored way of replying to those who do not make it to the corporate office or to the college campus.

First, a little about the interview process.

Often, in today’s marketplace, candidates for positions go through a preliminary review by a committee, made of various people who represent different parts of the company. Frequently, large corporations and colleges hire a consultant to shift through the mounds of potential candidate applications. The consultant then hands over a select group of candidates to the selection committee who then creates a “semi-finalist” list. This list may contain five to ten candidates, sometimes more but more often than not fewer than ten candidates.

The semi-finalist list may be called for an interview over the phone with either the entire committee or a select group of the actual committee. Usually, the interview may last for an hour but not much longer. The committee has a set number of questions for all candidates so the committee can see how all candidates answer the questions. The candidate may be given some time to ask a question or two at the end of the interview.

Once the semi-finalists have been interviewed, the committee begins their deliberations as to whom they would like to “bring in” for final interviews. The committee may use a matrix by which they “score” the candidates, based on a series of indicators that they have either devised or the company’s or college’s human resources office has devised for this particular purpose. From these deliberations, an even more select group of candidates is slated for additional interviews as “finalists.”

Ultimately, the finalists will come to corporate headquarters, an off-site meeting place, or on campus to interview with a variety of potential groups: the committee, team members, faculty and staff, community members, the company’s HR department, the board of trustees, the foundation, and others. Once these series of interviews are completed, the Committee will begin deliberating again, probably using another matrix, to determine who the final candidate they will be recommending to the board or to corporate.

Now, that the semi-finalists and finalists have been interviewed, and the finalist approved and offered a job—and hopefully accepted—it is appropriate to contact those who were not selected but who were interviewed. In today’s society, some people have resorted to e-mail, text, or a simple letter, letting people know they were not selected. My belief is that these three methods are not appropriate and should be discarded. But they are better than not receiving any type of communication.

Unfortunately, there are companies that never contact their candidates after an interview. I know several people who had interviews, some of them two interviews, and were never contacted to tell them one way or the other. And when the interviews called or even email, nothing. Absolutely nothing! That is definitely bad form. Many of these people said, “Is that they treat their employees?” We hope not.

We need to remember that most candidates spend a great deal of time preparing for the interview. They spend hours on the company’s website and read through the plethora of information often found on a company’s website, they visit with people who might know something about the company, they create questions and possible answers, and they even rehearse question and answers with a colleague or a family member.

It is no wonder, then, when candidates go through the preparation stage, the interview stage, and the waiting stage, there is some obligation on the part of the company to do their part and “reach out” to the candidates who don’t receive an interview. It’s call “courtesy.”

My suggestion is this: If you or a committee has actually visited with the person, it is professional courtesy to make a telephone call and personally tell the person that he or she was not selected. From personal experience, I may not have enjoyed making the call, but many, many candidates have thanked me for making the call.

Next time, you interview a candidate, and he or she does not make it to the top job, call them, let them know the situation, and make some type of contact. You bring closure to the entire interview process. Maybe mostly important, you will create a positive image of your company and of yourself as a caring company and leader.

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