I heard a really cool story the other day from a friend. Her husband had been sitting next to a colleague who had been interviewing to expand her team. This colleague had decided whom she was going to make an offer to and was in the process of calling the other candidates to let them know that they’d been unsuccessful. The first candidate was pretty surly when she called. The next candidate, by contrast, was very gracious, thanking her for her time and the experience. When she came off the phone, she remarked on what a great candidate he’d been and how if another opportunity arose within her team, she would immediately invite him back in.
Fast forward a couple of months and my friend’s husband himself finds himself invited for a job interview. The opportunity really excites him. He goes to meet his would-be line-manager and comes back very enthused. Several days later, however, he receives an email from the recruiter responsible for arranging the interview to let him know he’s not through to the second stage of interview. My friend’s husband is very disappointed – he’d been as certain as one can be with these things that he’d be called back in – but remains pragmatic. When reflecting on the process, he’s reminded of the scenario with his colleague a few months earlier, so he decides to ping off a text to his interviewer to thank him for his time and the experience. Within minutes he receives a text back to advise that there’s been an error at the client end – the interviewer absolutely wanted to take him through to the next stage. He’s actually currently down to the final short list.
The moral – if there is one – of this story, is to think about how you, as a candidate, approach the interview process. I know how badly some recruiters have treated candidates across the last decade, but I think it’s worth bearing in mind a couple of things.
Firstly, as in all industries, there are good apples and there are bad apples. Hopefully, any decent recruiter worth their salt will treat all candidates respectfully throughout the interviewing process, regardless of interview outcome. Having to reject candidates is, in my experience, most definitely the worst part of recruiting – no one likes to deliver bad news. This said, few and far between are the candidates who take a rejection call badly, at least in my experience. Sure, it happens, but it’s rare.
Secondly, a thought about grace and dignity in defeat. A few simple words, which cost nothing, completely transform the lasting impression that the interviewer has of the candidate. Furthermore, in the case of my friend’s husband, his dignity and pragmatism in reaching out to thank his interviewer, in fact highlighted a mistake and brought him straight back into the mix as a candidate.
As the world of work becomes ever more complex, all businesses will face the challenge of becoming increasingly streamlined, using technology to automate whenever possible, and increasingly, using ‘on-demand’ workers to deliver niche services on a ‘Just-in-Time’ basis. In the wake of these changes, job candidates will need to assert themselves more in order to stand out from the crowd. Being able to demonstrate emotional intelligence, empathy and understanding for others involved in the interview process is a key indicator, in my book, of authenticity and is a primary way in which we connect with one another as humans. The opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression with a potential hirer cannot be understated, and showing grace in defeat is a simple, yet enormously effective way of being remembered for other potential future work opportunities. As my mother used to say – manners cost nothing. At Working the Future, we say try it – you never know what might happen!
Cat’s recruitment career has furnished her with fascinating insights into how people behave in the workplace, particularly in response to change. She has a deep interest in human behaviour, organisational psychology and helping business leaders create sustainable, ethical and values-based working environments.