Job Candidates Are People Too…Employers Need to Show Some Respect!

If you're currently looking for a job you know that it's tough work to get noticed let alone hired in an economy that's still on life support.  There's a lot of people out there who are doing all the right things but still haven't been able to land their next gig in many cases through no fault of their own.  And let's face it, for most of us our job is an integral part of our identity and shapes not only how we view ourselves but how other people view us as well.  So imagine you are one of the lucky folks who actually makes it through the screening process and lands an interview only to realize that the people interviewing you have no 'effing idea what they're doing.  You've done your homework on the company, prepared your answers, and even bought a new suit.  But as the interview goes on, it becomes clear as day that not only are you up against other candidates for this job, you also have to overcome the inept interview team as well.  That sucks, plain and simple.  And it's not right.  Now, I know we here at FOT tend to rant about candidates and employees from time to time but COMPANIES have some responsibilities here too.

They actually need to read your resume.  You would think this is basic stuff, right?  Well, it's not.  There's nothing worse as a candidate than trying your hardest to put your best foot forward when based on the questions you're being asked you get the sneaking suspicion they haven't even done you the courtesy of reading your resume.  Or better yet, they are clearly reading it for the first time (out loud sometimes) in front of you.  Come on, at least read it on the way to the interview room!  I have to admit I'm not innocent here.  In my first job out of college I was interviewing an experienced candidate and I hadn't really read his resume.  Well, the dude called my a** out and said “if you need a few minutes to have a look at my resume, I can go get a cup of coffee and come right back.”  I apologized and came clean.  We hired the guy and I swore I'd never put myself in that situation again!

They tell you who you're meeting and stay on schedule.  In my mind it's only fair for the candidate to know exactly who their meeting with ahead of time so they have an opportunity to do some of their own research and prepare for the interview.  And by ahead of time I mean the company sen

ds you a schedule before you arrive, not when you walk through the door, unless of course the lineup changes.  I also believe this helps the force a company to respect your time!  One of my worst experiences was when I was interviewing with a rather well known company and I was deserted in a windowless conference room for almost an hour wondering if anyone was coming for me.  I was thirsty and had to use the bathroom but I was afraid if I left the room I might miss the next interviewer.  Finally I was rescued by someone who clearly was standing in for whoever I was supposed to meet.  I was pissed!  In the end I was offered a position but I turned it down in part because of this experience.

They have an interviewing strategy.  I know, I know, now I'm asking a lot but I expect the people who are interviewing me to have a planned and coordinated approach.  Meaning, if I'm meeting with 5 people I don't want 5 people to ask me the exact…same…question.  By the 5th time answering it I've got my story down pat but you haven't really learned all that much about me.  And don't even get me started on the people who think asking questions out of the blue like ” if you were an animal, what animal would you be?”  Unless, it's part of your strategy to ask off the wall questions I don't give a crap about your animals!  I expect that each interviewer to have a particular area of focus and a series of questions they have been assigned to ask.  And so should you.

They call you back.  You've put up with the interviewer reading your resume while walking into the conference room, you've been deserted in a windowless room waiting for an unnamed interviewer to rescue you and you spent 10 minutes of your life that you'll never get back explaining why you'd make a great leopard.  And you can't get the company to return your call, emails or even acknowledge that you exist.  They give you the high school fade away break up treatment – “maybe if I don't return his call he'll get the message.”  I'm of the strong opinion that if you actually take time out of your life to interview for a position the VERY least a company can do is call you back.  I'm always amazed when I reach out to a candidate and they thank me…even though I just told them they didn't get the job.

What else would you add to this list? Hit me in the comments…


FOT Background Check

Andy Porter
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.


  1. dave cochrane says:

    About 5 years ago I interviewed with Bloomberg in London, flying down there at my own expense. I was (thankfully after the people I encountered there) unsuccessful…and didn’t even get a letter, call or email to tell me I hadn’t got the job. Unbelievable. I’d add that the guy who interviewed me and the others in the discussion group I was in was one of the most arrogant, supercilious gimps I’ve ever encountered…and for London, that’s really saying something.

  2. Josh Tolan says:

    This is all good advice for how to treat job candidates like people, not just resumes in your inbox. Candidate experience is important, especially if your candidate spreads their dissatisfaction with your hiring process to their smart and talented friends. You want as much good word-of-mouth as possible, which means treating candidates like people instead of clogs in the machine. Whether you’re meeting with a candidate in person or through online video, learning about the candidate and being respectful of their time and interest is the best way to brand your company as a great place to work.

    • Mary Ott says:

      @ Josh Tolan: I have a BA and post-graduate education and lots of healthcare experience. Why can’t I get hired in my field? Simple: I’m 53 years of age. EDD confirms that employers are not hiring workers my age and that this is happening all over the US! Can younger workers talk about this? D-I-S-C-R-I-M–I-N-A-T-I-O-N or Agephobia? We need to dialogue about this taboo to overcome the issue.

      I’m a young looking woman for my age, but once the ‘Talent Acquisition Team’ does the math, I am tossed in the can. Shame. And so many people in this country lament that all the people on unemployment are lazy. Well people/employers – put your money where you mouth is and hire older workers. We REALLY want to work. I am signed up at 77 employer sites and there is no communication from any of them. I have a good work history, too. How sad for our country.

  3. Michele St.Laurent says:

    Show genuine interest. Be open-minded and don’t immediately look for ways to rule out the candidate. Have a two-sided conversation and even if you determine he/she is not appropriate for the open position, be polite. Everything that you say and do in that 45-minute interview is PR – both good and bad – to the world. Stick to the Golden Rule of treating others how you expect to be treated.

  4. Laurelannk says:

    How about this: Final interviews, bringing in the top two or three candidates in from all over the country to compete for the spot, and then receive a letter saying, “We’ve decided not to fill the position at this time.” Shouldn’t that be decided BEFORE???

  5. bottlebean says:

    Great list, especially the “silent treatment” issue! Some otherwise considerate companies will still blow this one. After the in-person appearance, we know the candidate list has been whittled to a manageable number of possible notification emails. We also don’t want to be pushy and follow up multiple times to acquire the status. Once a decision has been reached, take two seconds and send at least a form email to the other candidates. A quick, considerate rejection is always better than silence.

    My biggest complaint is thankfully rare, but it still makes me incredibly angry: “spec work” via candidate interviews. Recently I interviewed for a company that claimed they were establishing my position, as well as determining a formal procedure for their workflow. Representatives from each team proceeded to ask what I’d do in unusually specific scenarios, and took copious notes. While this would be normal under other circumstances, the inclusion was odd in the context of what they were currently lacking. I was getting suspicious and asked, “How has the work been produced for 2 years without this position’s existence?” and they hemmed and hawed a bit before admitting they had someone else doing the role alongside their own. They required documentation samples, and I sent them as requested. Then…silence. I’m fairly sure they were just using candidates to craft their own procedure and documentation style, perhaps to assign to someone internally. I may never know, but I’ve been doing this for too long not to trust my instinct.

    Most of my experience involves on-site freelance projects, so I have the pleasure of interviewing more than those who stick to salaried positions. This is significant, because in my industry we’re always partnering with other agencies. As luck would have it, I’m often in the reverse position to make recommendations on some of the very same companies for which I’ve interviewed! The way a company treats its candidates is indicative of their overall behavior.

  6. Jemma Taylor says:

    Good points Andy! I hope all the recruiters have followed the first one every time, they take conducted an interview but well ….I met a recruiter once who kept asking me silly things like my grades and year of graduation when my resume was sitting right in front of us…

  7. Dan G. says:

    Totally agree. In this economy I think most of us have been on the other side of the job search and we’ve had similar situations. One thing I’d point out that some behavioral interviewing techniques have each interviewer ask about job/education history and note any discrepancies when the interview team meets. We do this at my current employer and it’s actually tripped up a few people and we were able to identify red flags.

  8. Linda M says:

    Great article, Thank You. I have been on a string of poorly executed interviews. Your point of a strategy is valid. I have gone where there was a “strategy” but all anyone did was read the question – read it in monotone as if it was the first they have seen the question and do not understand what they are asking. Then they only write down every word, not really listening to what you are saying. Never looking at you, never commenting, no follow up question. This tells me the “strategy” was weak and superficial. No one really comprehended what they were asking or why.

    In this electronic age it is very easy to send an email letting a candidate know they were not picked. 95% of the companies I have interviewed with over the years have never responded even after a call inquiring where they are in the process. Emily post is undoubtedly rolling over in her grave at the lack of manners that many HR/Companies exhibit.

  9. Chris says:

    Of course, it’s sometimes the interviewer who is left in the lurch by their boss. On the way to the first of three consecutive interviews for one position I was told by my boss (in the corridor) that the budget was not there for the position and that we were going to continue with the contractor! Given such an awful choice I decided to come clean at the first interview. The candidate was rather upset and walked out. I confess that I “went through the motions” with the other two, but felt terrible doing it. So, yes please; more RESPECT all round!!

  10. Mary Ott says:

    I have a BA and post-graduate education and lots of healthcare experience. Why can’t I get hired in my field? Simple: I’m 53 years of age. EDD confirms that employers are not hiring workers my age and that this is happening all over the US! Can younger workers talk about this? D-I-S-C-R-I-M–I-N-A-T-I-O-N or Agephobia? We need to dialogue about this taboo to overcome the issue.

    I’m a young looking woman for my age, but once the ‘Talent Acquisition Team’ does the math, I am tossed in the can. Shame. And so many people in this country lament that all the people on unemployment are lazy. Well people/employers – put your money where you mouth is and hire older workers. We REALLY want to work. I am signed up at 77 employer sites and there is no communication from any of them. I have a good work history, too. How sad for our country.

  11. Larry says:

    Put the guy with the veto first. A few years ago, a company in Chicago flew me out for a day of interviews from the East Coast. No offer to stay over but I agreed. I had to be up extremely early go catch the flight, and they ran me through a full day, non-stop, meeting with all sorts of people. Everyone, and I mean everyone, agreed that I was perfect for the job, and some even talked to me and each other as if it was a given that I’d be working there soon. Then came my very last interview, late in the day, with the Senior VP. He either had a bad day or just didn’t like my looks because the entire interview was just a waste of my time from the word go. You could tell that he didn’t want to be there, didn’t really care what I said, and had a nasty look on his face through the entire thing. got home late at night, exhausted from this all day, never-ending thing, and never heard another word. Follow-up calls/emails didn’t get returned either. So my item for the list would be that if you have a decision maker who holds a veto, put him first so the candidate doesn’t have to waste an entire day with people whose opinions can be so easily overruled.

  12. Beth says:

    I appreciate and have experienced most of the data you have identified. It is worse than a dating meat market! And I have not been in that world for years.
    I do believe that there is no real lack of healh-care workers, and many more people are sadly spending the money for these career requirements, only to not be able to get a position when they complete their degree. This is a travisty. Budgets suddenly get cut…….
    In the meantime, following your article data, I think the worst experience I had was just in December. I was recruited to travel almost 300 miles, by car, to a job interview. The employer had only paid so much in the tier of agency recruiting. As a result, they did little of the foot work connecting between the employer, we had to do our own interview negotiation. The employer did agree – verbally, both to the Recruiter and myself to pay for my lodging, 1 nite!.
    The interview turned out to be a grueling day of shadowing the doctor on his entire patient day. There was nothing different in the day, than what I am familiar with and pulled myself out on more than one occassion to speak with the office staff. I had found a hotel that had a decent reputation, but also was the least expensive, in comparison to the in-town Bed and Breakfast, etc. Thank goodness I had brought my own water and grabbed some fruit and yogurt from the breakfast bar. There was no real lunch time, and nothing offered to me. I am use to that on a work day, and often eat or not between patients. After 7 hrs, I finally had some non-patient time with the doc. He gave me verbal indication that the postion was mine, including suggesting I look into places to live! I did ask for the job description or at least the provisions he was offering in writing.
    I spent the next day exploring the community, meeting realtors, etc. I drove the 300 miles back, exhausted but excited that this was all worth it. I sent the formal Thank You note. Sent a Christmas Card thank you to the staff as it was a week before the holday. I watied for a week to send the receipt copy and just some of the gas receipts, not including the turnpike tolls to him. I heard nothing, weeks later, contacted and left him a message and than contacted the recruiter. Hearing nothing, the recruiter than told me he had decided to just do a locum tenens at intervals using a Pediatrician, so he would not have to worry about coverage when he took vacations. The next day I saw the ad in again, and in other sites, never there before! I finally reached the physcian about the verbal agreement he committed to to pay the expenses. He yelled at me that he did not have time to look for the first receipts, mumbled he didn’t have time for this and told me to send it again, than hung up on me!
    This was a “professional”. I am anxious to see if I receive the reimbursement, and feel like including the credit card interest, as it is over 2 months. If I was unprofessional, I would make contact with the numerous contacts I made in the small community regarding the rudeness and lack of holding to his contract he made with me. I have a sense, that this would not be a surprise to them and would travel fast through that small town. I would not do that, again professionally. Talk about abuse……and how much time I was not reimbursed for that day. Our time is money, as well.
    Thank you to share that this is the current expeciation of the employment-seeking world.

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