The Selection Process – When the Interview is Not Going Well

The Selection Process – When the Interview is Not Going Well

What to Do When Your Interview Candidate is Not Doing Well

You have thoroughly reviewed the resumes and cover letters and screened in the candidates you think are likely to be successful in the job. This really is difficult to do. Candidates often get help from others to prepare their resume and cover letter. Candidates typically do not create a new resume and cover letter in response to your specific posting. All in all, selecting candidates to put through the selection process is just a good guessing game. Having the candidates complete an application form or survey can be helpful in reducing this risk.

I always like to call the candidates when booking the selection process. I want to talk to them and then decide if inviting them to the selection process is a good idea. I review their resume and find a question that I can legitimately ask that will help me gather information about them. Needless to say I have to be very aware of my biases to ensure they are not playing a role in my decision to include a candidate or not.

I make the calls with a couple of questions in hand. I start the call with the request to gather more information. Once I have my answers, and I am convinced this is a good candidate, I book them for the interview. On the other hand, if my concerns about the strength of this candidate are validated, I will end the call without booking a slot for the candidate.

So what do you do if you get into the interview process and you, for one, are convinced that proceeding with the whole selection process for this candidate is a waste of time, especially if you are running behind schedule? What is the kindest way to proceed?

Continuing with the Whole Selection Process

If you have given the candidate a copy of the interview questions, you may want to proceed with the questions. If you have told them that there will be a role play, presentation and/or written aspect to the selection process, you may want to just continue and complete the whole process. Remember the time and energy they invested in completing and sending their resume and cover letter and the time and energy they spent getting ready for the interview. It may even have cost them a day’s pay to attend. You may feel it is kindest to have them participate in the whole process. This may even help them understand why they didn’t get the job. They deserve to walk out of there with their self-esteem intact…unless there is a way to help them save face and help make this a positive learning opportunity.

Not Continuing with the Selection Process

When they are having difficulty participating in the selection process, perhaps not being able to answer question after question, you – any member of the selection panel – may ask them how they are doing and if they want to continue with the process. This can open the door for a conversation they want to have to stop their suffering. “I notice you are struggling to answer our questions. Would you like to continue or would you rather we call it quits now? I’d be happy to speak with you at a later date to help you get ready for your next interview.” If they agree and ask for a future debrief and coaching session, make sure you follow-up with them. You want them to leave this experience with something positive in their hand and in their memory. Generally, even cities are small communities and you want to be seen as an employer of choice.

If they deny that they are struggling, perhaps now is a good time to review their progress to date. Ask them: “Would it be helpful if we reviewed your results so far? We don’t want you to spend any more time on this if this is not a positive experience for you.”  Be ready to explain to them that the answer to each question that they are being asked has been determined. Give them an example: “For instance in question number two, this is the kind of answer we are looking for. This is what you gave us. We cannot go back and re-score your previous answers. It may be best if we stop now. What do you think?” Again, you want them to leave the interview with their self-esteem somewhat intact.

Not Continuing in the Selection Process

Usually it is when the selection process has been completed and the hiring decision has been made that the candidates who are not successful are advised. Most people are in a hurry to get off the phone when they have been told that the news is bad. You will want to be prepared for the opportunity to explain to a candidate why they are not moving forward in the competition and how they can do better in their job hunt. Taking even 10 minutes to explain what the panel was looking for in their answers or performance in the process, is a kindness that is always much appreciated. It is a gift that, at that time, only you can give.


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