Last week, a job candidate who’d just completed an interview told us, “I’m so excited; they offered me the job!” when, sadly, it turned out she actually hadn’t gotten the job.
What went wrong?
The interviewer didn’t know how to gracefully end the interview, and the unintended result was a total miscue to the candidate. This is an agonizing situation for both job candidates and employers that should be avoided at all costs!
Interviews can lead to misunderstandings:
Applicants coming to job interviews are excited and eager. Could this be the next step in their career, the best job they’ve ever had, or the opportunity that finally gets them off unemployment? They badly want to hear the magic words “you’re hired.”
The interviewer can feel that pressure, and not want to be the cause of disappointment. If an interviewer is too delicate or unclear when they end the interview, the job seeker can come away from it with the entirely wrong idea.
So how do you send a job seeker on their way gracefully without miscommunication?
How to end an interview without miscommunication:
Before the interview starts, know how it will end. If you have a plan, you won’t end up with a big misstep.
Tell the candidate what to expect:
Most applicants just want to know what to expect. How will I know whether or not I’ve got the job? Will you call me or send me an email? Will it be days, weeks, or months before I hear? Wrap up the interview by telling the candidate what to expect. Tell them what the next steps are, where you are in your hiring process, and when and how they can expect to hear from you.
Don’t give tours:
Don’t give the candidate a tour of your facility, show them where their office would be, or introduce them to everyone in the facility. This gives them the impression that they will soon be returning to work there with these nice new co-workers they’ve just met.
Don’t provide too much feedback:
When job seekers prepare for interviewing, they are often advised to ask certain questions at the end of the interview, such as, “Will I be moving forward in the interview process?” or “After meeting me, do you feel I have what you’re looking for?”
Your specific answers to these questions can end up giving the candidate the wrong impression. Don’t get put on the spot. Answer in a general manner, letting the candidate know that it was great to meet them, that you wouldn’t have brought them in unless they had the qualifications you were looking for, and that at this point in the process, you aren’t able to compare one candidate to another.
Don’t let your enthusiasm get the better of you:
Sometimes an interview just goes really well and we want the candidate to know that. It could be that we just really clicked during the interview. It might be that our personalities mesh well, or the candidate is just very likable, or impressive in person, or has great interviewing skills.
If you succumb to the temptation to give them instant positive feedback, what the candidate hears is “I’m probably going to hire you.”
It’s always a good practice to give yourself the opportunity to reflect on the candidate after the interview ends, review their qualifications again, conduct reference checks and any other necessary verifications, and compare all of your candidates before moving forward. Resist the temptation to tell a candidate that you’ve already fallen in love.
In these hard times, going through the job hunting process can be discouraging and arduous.
As employers, we have something really special to give to someone: employment! And as good, decent people, we also want to make this process less stressful by being considerate of job candidates’ feelings, even if we have no intention of hiring them.
It’s important to remember that it’s not always kindest to send people on their way thinking they may have just landed a job, simply to spare their feelings. Better to set a realistic expectation for everyone, and then to call later on and make someone’s day with a job offer.
And don’t forget, if a job applicant comes away from an interview with you mistakenly thinking that you’ve made them a job offer, and they quit their current job because of this, you could end up on the hook for their unemployment! It won’t necessarily matter that the job offer that fell through didn’t exist in the first place, so be careful!