Some of you are going to give me the side-eye and that’s ok (in advance). Call me obnoxious. Fine. But don’t waste my time calling me into your office to talk when you don’t have a clear sense of why you want me there.
Let me explain.
A friend of mine told me this week that she went in to see a potential employer about what she called “new opportunities”.
“Okay…I’m listening.” I quietly said. My friend proceeded to tell me a story of how she was supposed to meet with the head of the agency and his chief of staff and that person was running late so she was left with the chief of staff. No big deal, right? The chief of staff should be briefed enough to get the conversation started until the head of the agency joined them…right? Hmph. Well here is where the story gets interesting. Imagine sitting across from a person you’re not there to see AND a person who you’ve interviewed with before at another company (SN: interview with said chief of staff was awkward as said chief of staff was unprepared for that interview).
Now, my friend is sitting in the room making small talk with the chief of staff and the staff person was struggling ask interview questions because…she didn’t know what role my friend was interviewing for. HOLD. THE. PHONE. WHEEEEEEET!?!
The hiring manager showed up 12 minutes before the end of scheduled interview time, rushed through two questions and ushered my friend out the door. She said “Kishshana, I was stunned and it happened so fast yet it felt like it was happening in slow motion. Why’d they waste my time?”
Dear hiring manager,
Why do we waste people’s time?
You might be thinking “maybe something happened” or “could’ve been an off day” and any of those things could be true. But I’ve had friends who have waited over an hour to be seen by a hiring manager for an interview only rushed through it. Others share stories about having interview days at went 7-8 hours without a break for a meal and THEN no word from that company for weeks following the interview (in a few cases it was months).
I’ve experienced the interview where the manager didn’t ask me one question that allowed me to demonstrate I knew how to do the job in question and left me puzzled and angry. Still others have been forced to do meaningless role exercises that teach you nothing about their ability to excel in the role or worse — you just plain out steal their intellectual property and pass them off as new ideas when you hire someone else.
Today, a talented professional is getting up, dressing to impress and reviewing their notes about you, your company, the role they are being considered for, their own track record; they are ready to demonstrate their skills, passion and experience and you my friend, are dialing it in!
Before you get all miffed and think “oh no not me”, I will pause so you can feel my gaze upon your desktop (or mobile) screen. We’ve all done it a time or three and yet when it happens it feels like a Madonna song 🎵 “Like a Virgin…”. As we head into the end of summer and hiring season picks up steam — here are a few things I want us to do better as managers when we are recruiting our #1 asset; our people.
Be clear about what you need. Don’t launch a role that you’re aren’t ready to actually fill. That means taking the time to create a strong job description that outlines the challenge and the opportunity of the role and highlights the unique nature of your organization. It means creating and interview process that involves stakeholders who will be working with this person once they are hired. And it means interview questions that are behavioral based, equitable and consist so that you are fairly evaluating candidates and not just winging it. And lastly, it means not “seeing what’s out there”. “Ghosting” candidates is real but transactional hiring leads to transactional relationships. You aren’t out for a leisurely stroll at your local festival happy to stumble upon unique finds. You’ve got to be laser focused and clear on what success looks like for this role and make sure you have the resources/conditions/culture to ensure that success is possible.
Don’t start something if you don’t have a “consistency” plan in place. How many times have you started a new “thing” at work only to abandon it a few weeks later because you don’t have the bandwidth to learn it much less implement it. You have to keep that same energy from start to finish. So here’s my charge to you. Don’t start something without a consistency plan. Not a new “idea” at team meeting (that has your whole team rolling their eyes). Not a new routine that you read in a blog (without clear outcomes). And definitely not new software that’s supposed to help you time hack that you haven’t tried yourself. Your inconsistency erodes trust and frankly inflames your imposter syndrome in a big way. Having a plan for consistency — something that is nimble, flexible and can be scheduled (hello routines that work) go a long way in helping you decide what is important vs nice to have and allow you to be present (and not frazzled) when you are hiring!
You’re being interviewed too. I think we forget that the interview process is not just for us to find great talent. It’s also a time for great talent to pick us — to work under our leadership for a mission, cause or bottom line they care about. It’s time to lose the attitude of “them vs. us”. This is supposed to be a thoughtful, iterative process and mostly importantly a two way street. Demonstrate empathy for the person sitting across from you as it’s really hard to interview for meaningful work. And while we are at it — stop calibrating overly qualified candidates (especially professionals of color) in favor of later stage folks that (if we’re being truthful) we often pick because we are exhausted.
You hate when your time is wasted. At the bank, on line at a big box store when you have one item, going through TSA with the same bag you travel with every week only for it to be searched AGAIN or the infamous “meeting to meet again”. So do me…no do us all a favor and stop wasting our time.