29 Sep More (Horror) Stories from the Job Seeking World
Posted at 04:00h in Recruitment
My prior newsletter explored the unrealistic expectations that hiring committees often have about the qualities that they seek in their candidates.This newsletter discusses how the interview process can go awry when there is a disconnect between a candidate and his interviewers.
The Back Story
A few days ago, I was talking to a colleague (“Sam”) who is currently self-employed, but has decided that he wants to return to working inside an organization. Sam is a highly skilled, articulate, senior manager who is clear on what he can do and where he would like to do it. In other words, it should be easy to match him with the right organization and the interview process should be fairly straightforward.
Sam recently interviewed with five senior people from an organization that he is interested in joining. On the surface, the interview appeared to go well and the conversation was interesting and substantive. However, the interviewers’ body language sent Sam a very different message about their interest. Every single interviewer spent much of the interview leaning back in their chairs with their arms crossed and their tone of their voices flat. In addition, one of the men sat in that I’m-Taking-Up-As-Much-Space-As-Possible pose, which involved leaning back, crossing his arms, and spreading his legs. You’ve probably run into men sitting like this on buses, trains, and metros. It is often a sign of aggression and/or competition as the person is signaling that he can and will take up more space than you.
What Does Their Posture Mean?
In general, people who cross their arms are signaling that they are uncomfortable with something. I know – you cross your arms when you’re cold. However, there are many different ways we can cross our arms. When we’re cold, we usually put our hands in our armpits or cross our arms very tightly with our elbows close together. (Go ahead, give that a try now. You’ll see what I mean.)
So why were the interviewers sitting like that when talking to Sam? One very plausible explanation is that the interviewers did not want to be in the room. But why? There are any number of possibilities:
Perhaps they did not think the company needed to hire someone new.
Perhaps they did not like Sam and thought the CEO was ignoring their concerns.
Perhaps the CEO had promised them that this time he was going to promote from within and is now going back on his word.
Perhaps the timing was poor – the interviewers were in the middle of a major project and did want to take the time to sit in on an interview.
Perhaps the head of HR had sprung this interview on them at the last minute.
Perhaps Sam was the 14th person they had interviewed for this position and they thought that the powers-that-be were ever going to make up their minds, so it was a total waste of their time.