“You are the best interviewer I have ever had!”

That is what my wife was told last week after she finished interviewing a prospective employee. She said that the statement made her day. However, my wife is not in HR; she was the hiring manager for this role.

Contrast that with a phone call later in the evening from a friend had gone on an interview. She told me how the recruiter was so terribly rude.

“The recruiter acted as if I had ruined her day,” my friend told me. She said the recruiter rushed her through the answers to her questions and kept looking at her watch. “Why did she bother to invite me to a face to face?” she wondered. She could just as easily rescheduled if she was having a bad day.

Recruiting as the first step

There was another recent story I heard from someone who flew out to the Midwest for an interview with all the prospective team members.

First up was the hiring manager, a senior officer, for a 45 minute scheduled interview. Well, the hiring manager showed up 15 minutes late, apologized, and seemed rushed and extremely distracted.

The interview only lasted about 15 minutes. The hiring manager apologized, saying she would have to leave since she had a flight scheduled in an hour. She left the room to check on her team to see whether they were ready to see the candidate as the next step in the interview process. The hiring manager was never seen again. The candidate saw the rest of the team and had a good interview.

Weeks later, this candidate received an email stating “that after much consideration, a decision was made to go with someone else.” Upon further checking, she found out the other candidates all got their allotted time with each member of the interview team.

We have all heard these horror stories and I for one get upset when I hear them. Now, I know there are good and bad apples everywhere. We should never use a broad brush to paint any profession. Like in most industries, for every good recruiter, there are scores of incompetent, ineffective, indifferent and sometimes indiscreet recruiters. That being said, there is no excuse for rudeness.

Medical profession takes note

I read an interesting New York Times article the other day. It discussed that how, as part of the admission process to medical schools, doctors are now put through a string of assessments to gauge their bedside manner and communication skills.

At a new medical school, Virginia Tech Carilion, the administrators decided against relying solely on grades to determine who got in. Instead, the school invited candidates to the admissions equivalent of speed-dating: nine brief interviews that forced candidates to show they had the social skills to navigate a health care system in which good communication has become critical.

At least eight medical schools in the United States — including those at Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Cincinnati — and 13 in Canada, are using some variation of this procedure. Think for a moment of the impact on the health care system in the future.

Recruitment as part of the talent management strategy

Does a person finish school stating that at the top of their career pyramid is a position as a recruiter? Or is it a way-station on the road to an HR generalist position or some other role? Is this a career destination?

In companies that I have worked at, the next step up from HR coordinator was junior recruiter. In a lot of cases, there was no formal training done. Give them the low hanging fruit (entry level jobs), they can handle that.

As part of any talent management strategy, the recruiter is the “gatekeeper.” They are the face of the company. They are the brand. Should we just leave it to chance and hope that they will figure it out?

The brand of your organization is in their hands. Every potential piece of talent is going to be viewed through that initial contact prism. You cannot afford to skimp on this step.

At a former employer, my team developed a thorough interviewing & hiring seminar. Every hiring manager and recruiter was trained not only in setting up the strategy for interviewing, but also syncing that with the hiring manager. The seminar emphasized that building the relationship, and the importance of representing the brand, were key parts of the hiring strategy.

The recruiter as a branding agent

Do not take this step lightly. Recruiting is a nobel profession, and the weight of your company is in the recruiter’s hands.

If you can’t get this first step right, you can put a pin in all the other initiatives going forward. Otherwise, you have new employees coming in with low expectations, and the ones you passed on left on the curb having all the social media power to tell their story about your brand.

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