Interviewing and Closure

A while ago I had an opening in a group I was leading. I did what anybody who has a need for staff (and budget to pay them) does: I interviewed people to fill the position. I went through the standard progression for hiring people. I requested and gathered resumes, and then went through them and made the first cut of people who had the minimum / desirable experience and expertise for the position. I then contacted this “long” list over the phone and had a short conversation with each candidate to ascertain their histories and capabilities as they had detailed in their resumes. After this conversation I again made another cut to the “short” list of candidates.

I then scheduled and had a more in-depth phone conversation with these candidates to understand how they would recognize, approach and solve problems associated with the position. I also wanted to get a start at understanding their various management styles and how they might fit into the existing team. At this point it was relatively clear that all candidates had the technical and hard skills required to perform the work associated with the position, and that the final decision criteria would come down to soft skills and which candidate would fit best into the existing team. The “short” list was then cut to the finalists.

The finalists were then requested to come in and meet face to face for a more in depth discussion on strategies, directions, tactics and methodologies that the candidates would use in performing the work, and interfacing with the other members of the team and other teams.

I was fortunate in that a clear choice emerged, and that it enabled me to make a good selection for the position.

That was the standard progression for the interviewing and hiring people. I think we are all familiar with it, and have probably gone through it at least once and probably several times in our careers. The point that I want to make here is not about the selection process, but about the communication that was then conducted with each prospective candidate who was NOT chosen at each stage of the process.

I had begun to think back to various times that I had interviewed for positions. I recalled that many times the process just seemed to end or go dormant with no feedback or reason given. After a while I would call to ask to understand what the next steps in the process were (after all they had shown interest in me), only to be told that they had already selected someone else. They hadn’t had the courtesy to let me know that I wasn’t selected.

I understand that due to the variations in positions and interviewing leaders no one will be selected for every position they interview for. The point is, that while no one likes to bring people the bad news that they were not selected, the hiring manager has the responsibility to see to it that the unsuccessful candidates are told if and when they are removed from consideration, and if possible to provide a short explanation of the basis of the decision. If you invited someone to the party, you need to stand up and tell them when the process is over for them.

The information needs to be straight forward, simple, and on a par with the position that they were at in the hiring process. If it is at the resume review or early in the process, then a short note thanking them for their time should do. If you have had significant discussions with them either over the phone or in person, I would think that the courtesy of a person to person phone call would be appropriate. I don’t think a detailed discussion or review of the candidate is called for, but at least hearing from you that while the decision was difficult, it was made, and that their participation in the process was appreciated.

I guess there were times in my past career where I would have appreciated that kind of closure on the interview process. Because of that I try to make sure that I provide that kind of closure to people who have gone through the interview process with me.

Free Time

What do you do with your free time? I don’t mean play golf, or spend time with the family. I mean your free time in the office. I know we are all busy and that the demands that have been placed on us require more and more of our focus, but we all have some free time. What do you do when you get off the call, or finish the meeting and don’t have anything scheduled on your daily calendar?

Some surveys suggest that one of the main things we do is go check our email. Not our business / professional email, our personal email. Other surveys also suggest that we go and surf the web to help us “decompress”. Do you leave your office to search out someone / a friend for a little social discussion and activity?

The world, not just the market continues to get more competitive. There are many qualified and talented individuals in many disciplines in the work environment. How can you start to set yourself apart?

The approach that I am taking for myself and my team is to try and re-vector my “free time” toward learning, training and certification. I used to look at people who put all sorts of letters and acronyms after their names with a little bemusement. The truth be told, I still do. I think its great to have the training and certification, but I also think that you need to be self confident enough to not have to continuously display it every time you electronically sign a document.

But I do think the idea that it is desirable to have that training, knowledge and certification to back up your capabilities and talents is starting to grow, and has value. Almost every professional discipline now has some sort of training / certification capability. Sales, HR, Engineering, Design, Project Management and many others all seem to have certifications available. Most of the “training” or course work required to get these certifications / pass the tests in most instances can be done without actually having to sign up and take classes. You just have to read, study and learn.

, studying and learning sounds like something most of us can do in our free time. It probably also will provide us more personal value than checking to see how much new spam we have in our personal mailbox. I like the idea of using free time to set yourself apart and at the same time increase your value to your business.

I am a little frustrated with myself that I didn’t figure this out sooner……