Today, we’re going to quickly weigh in on something we’ve recently noticed in the hiring process. It’s a small note, but it speaks to a wider issue about how companies need to do their best to attract candidates and present a compelling case at every stage of the hiring process.
Here’s the crux of the issue: Companies shouldn’t be afraid to show the love during the hiring process when the right candidate comes along. When hiring, especially at the interview stage, hiring managers and other company representatives shouldn’t be afraid to show their enthusiasm for a candidate if they’re excited about that candidate being the right fit for a job.
We’ll get to the why in a second. But first: There’s an almost pro-forma tradition, when an interview ends, of the interviewer or hiring manager putting on their poker face and solemnly saying something like:
“Thanks for coming in. We have a few more interviews lined up with different candidates for this position over the next week, but after that, we’ll be in touch.”
Anyone who’s been on the job market long enough has heard this. The thing is, we’ve noticed that interviewers and hiring managers tend to repeat this line – along with the attendant poker face – no matter how successful the interview has been. Even if the interviewer feels that the candidate is the perfect fit for the position, they still feel the need to hide their enthusiasm, whether out of respect for other candidates, or for the process, or in case something goes wrong and things don’t work out.
All of which makes sense in a world where hiring is seen as a competition where candidates work as hard as they can to impress companies. But there’s a reason why showing a high level of enthusiasm that matches a strong candidate’s actual performance makes more sense, and it’s that (especially in high-demand areas of hiring like Supply Chain), hiring is a two way street and clients are often competing to hire top talent just as much as candidates might be competing for jobs.
It’s important to keep in mind that, in a search for highly-skilled professionals, a candidate is interviewing a hiring manager or HR representative just as much as they’re the subject of the interview. And no one would expect a candidate, at the end of an interview, to say something like:
“Thank you for the interview. I’m fielding other opportunities and interviews, but I’ll be sure to get back to you if I decide I might want to work here.”
In fact, everyone would expect a candidate who plays it coy in that way to be immediately disqualified from consideration.
So why does it make sense for interviewers to hide their enthusiasm at an interview’s conclusion if the interview has gone well? The upshot of this kind of forced neutrality is that a great candidate might actually take another offer because the interviewer hasn’t conveyed their enthusiasm for the candidate. And as recruiters with our ears to the ground of what’s happening in hiring, we see that candidates decline job offers for other opportunities all the time. We chastise candidates for not communicating their enthusiasm at the end of an interview all the time (i.e., recommending that they ask follow-up questions about the next steps in the hiring process), so why don’t we hold interviewers to the same standard?
Some might say that hiring managers need to employ a standard of neutrality in interviews so that weaker candidates don’t feel discouraged, and to avoid awkwardness. But companies need to show the stronger candidates how valued they’ll be, and how well their interview has gone. We think that catering to the stronger candidates a company is actually considering hiring is more important than conveying neutrality to candidates who won’t be moving forward.
In our discussions about this issue, there’s one instance that comes to mind where a neutral tone at the end of a great interview makes sense: when there are multiple individuals interviewing a candidate at once (say, in a panel interview). In this case, the interviewer who is wrapping things up doesn’t actually know their colleagues’ assessments of how the interview went, so adopting a neutral tone with the candidate at the interview’s end makes sense in order to present a unified front until the panel can compare notes. But in a one-on-one interview, we think that if it goes great, there’s nothing wrong with letting the candidate know.
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