I’ve been burning up the interstate these past few weeks spreading the good word (or bad, depending on your HR role), about the hiring process and the fails that are consistently ignored and how the organizations’ frontline managers hold the key to an engaged workforce. Yep, it’s been an education for the audience and for me. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see despite what most people think, I don’t know everything and I do pick up amazing stories and hear crazy conversations whenever I speak on these topics. People like to share their failures and successes with sympathetic ears because it gives them validity that “they are not alone” in this. I always pick up great details about what really happens day in and day out in HR and I love it!
One particular story was shared recently by a really nice HR person whom I know was very concerned after a recent interview with a candidate and needed to tell the story so they could validate that the candidate was crazy and they did the right thing.
In a nutshell, an eager candidate came in to interview for an HR Generalist role and the first interview stop was in HR and with this very nice, professional HR Director. During the course of the interview the candidate, whose skills, experience and overall demeanor seemed to be exactly what this organization was looking for. All was going well and this HR Director was ready to accelerate the interview process and move the candidate directly to the VP of HR – they were that sure of the hire.
It wasn’t until the last comment the candidate made that put the brakes on the whole thing and caused the HR Director to step back and reconsider this candidate’s motives.
When the HR Director asked this all too typical question, “Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?” the answer was not what was expected.
The candidate replied in a matter of fact tone, “I plan to have your job.”
You could have heard a pin drop. The HR Director could not find the words to respond and sat staring at what they now perceived as a candidate with an underlying motive and that did not sit well.
With a nervous smile, the now frazzled HR Director finished the interview with the standard, “Thanks for coming in, we have some other candidates we are meeting with and we’ll be in touch to talk about next steps”.
You know the rest of the story, right? There was no call back, just a nice letter that stated the usual rejection words.
With a new confidence in their voice, the HR Director was sharing this story with me and added comments like, “The nerve of this younger generation. To think they can just come in and say they want my job! If my job was open, don’t you think I would have posted for a Director, not a Generalist?”
This is wrong on so many levels, and honestly, I didn’t even know where to begin with my response;
Really? You asked the question, what did you expect? Why wouldn’t you want someone who has aspirations? Do you think people want to be a generalist all their life? Aren’t you looking to move up or out someday and wouldn’t it be great to have someone in the wings ready to take on your role so you could move up? What happened to a career path? Don’t you want their next job to be with your company? I’m sure the candidate could have phrased this differently, however, if you are going to ask those types of questions you need to be prepared and hope they have goals.
Small-minded and selfish was all I could think of. The reality of the situation is that while we want to bring in talent, there are also those who don’t want the competition. It makes them look bad and maybe will showcase some of the skills they are lacking.
Hiring Process Fail.
On my drive home, I started to feel sorry for this HR Director. What a sad place to be in. They must have felt more in control than ever before. I thought about the candidate and how they must be feeling. They were probably coached to speak their mind and state your goals. And when they did, it was what ultimately kept them from getting the job. I wonder if they felt defeated.
Hmm, lots to think about here.
Do personal goals, control or job security creep into your hiring process?
Think about all of the bias’ you have, perceptions you hold on to and how that affects how you hire.
I want someone working with me who wants my job. Just need to find them…
About the Mouth
Carol McDaniel is the Senior Vice President at Kinetix – a Recruitment Process Outsourcing firm. Carol’s background combines extensive Human Resource consulting, recruiting, marketing and advertising expertise. With her strong understanding of the many challenges in today’s competitive labor market environment she is considered a subject matter expert in the employer marketing and branding process. This expertise has proved to play a crucial role in the development of talent management and acquisition strategies for her clients. Carol is a frequent speaker at HR and SHRM events, national programs and training seminars to focus on the areas of talent acquisition and talent communications. Carol also volunteers her time with the HR Florida State Council and serves on the Executive committee as the the President-Elect. Read more from Carol here.
“First-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people.” – Leo Rosten
Also known as A Players hire A Players. Be Players Hire C Players.
Seems your HR Director might have been a “B.” “B’s are always afraid they’ll hire someone smarter than they are that will want their job. Too bad for the organization.