As a job applicant, there are many social rules that are necessary to follow. These help to increase your chances of being taken seriously as a candidate. On the flip side, there are also rules the company should follow when they interview candidates. These give the company the best chances of attracting the best candidates.
Let’s start with the rules job seekers must follow. The list is long because so much riding on first impressions.
Your communication must be quick, concise and clear. You should dress appropriately. You should be on time to the job interview. If you don’t keep your commitment to the time of the interview, chances are high that you will be immediately dropped from the consideration set. If you’ve been given homework during the interview process, you should return it promptly. And, after the interview, you should follow up with thank you notes or emails quickly.
Any misstep in these social rules and the company will drop you in favor of another candidate.
The problem is, companies often forget that this is a dance. It involves two parties. But, in a job market like the one today, job seekers have more choices. They can also walk away when the company doesn’t follow social rules.
For companies, the social rules are fewer, but they are equally important. The company should follow up with candidates promptly to schedule interviews and to provide feedback during the process.
The hiring manager should be on time to interviews. They should arrive prepared, having read the candidate’s resume. They should be attentive and respectful. The company should avoid making the interview process too long or too time consuming. They should work not to ask questions that are too personal (and illegal). The company should be honest.
But most of all, they should be respectful of a candidate’s time. When a candidate chooses to interview with a company, they’re putting a lot on the line. It takes time to prepare for an interview. The candidate must take off work, or find a quiet time to take an interview during work hours.
The thing that seems quite shocking is just what a one-way street the interview process often is. Companies treat candidates as if their own behavior doesn’t influence the candidate. The interviewer will often show up late. They’ll ask to reschedule at the last moment. When the interview does happen, they’re often unprepared. They will ask questions that are illegal, forcing the candidate to play along in order to be considered. They keep the candidate in the dark for months about the status of the job interview. And, in the end, if they extend an offer, they expect the candidate to be excited to work for them.
In a bad job market, this may work because people are desperate. In today’s market, companies need to spend as much time being respectful to candidates as candidates spend being respectful to them.