Why do so many underestimate interviews with H.R?
I’ve heard some comments recently from candidates or job search clients related to interviews with H.R. I’ve selected two, because the others carried the same message, they were just phrased differently.
- Comment #1 – From a job seeking client: “I’ve only attended a series of meaningless interviews with H.R.”
- Comment #2 – From a candidate I was interviewing who was woefully unprepared: “Don’t worry, I will be better prepared for the decision-maker”
Sadly for him, I was the decision maker. His process ended right there.
It is true that the calibre of some H.R. individuals, may not be high all the time. But regardless, they are the gate keepers to the process. Candidates, this is your wake-up call. Interviews with H.R. are not meaningless, even if they seem that way. They are the first decision makers. If H.R. cut you, it rarely happens that the line or hiring managers go back and ask to see the thousands of CVs and telephone screening notes of unprocessed candidates. Many pundits encourage candidates to bypass H.R. totally and locate the hiring manager. That can work, but usually offers are made via H.R. so they can still nix your application. It is only very rarely you can leapfrog interviews with H.R.
And sometimes you don’t know you are encountering H.R., as one candidate found to his cost with #HRTechWorld colleague Matt Buckland
Karma – the guy who pushed past me on the tube and then suggested I go F myself just arrived for his interview…with me…
— Matt Buckland (@ElSatanico) February 16, 2015
Attitude and aptitude
How you interact with H.R.,recruiters and anyone else in the process is measured, monitored and judged. You are then compared to other candidates or the benchmark for the position for that company. An overview centred around cultural fit and expectations will be made. Your attitude matters as much as your hard skills. If you are rude and entitled then it’s factored in. I interviewed a senior manager for an executive role in a very conservative organisation. Let’s be clear. It was not a junior coding role in a tech start-up. He was not professionally attired. I simply made a note of the facts and the company President commented on it as a sign of a certain attitude. He was processed further, but that same attitude surfaced in other ways further down the line. It was a red flag.
If the hiring manager trusts the H.R. Manager or the recruiter, he will rely on their judgement. She doesn’t have time to micro-manage the search process. I can understand process fatigue setting in because candidates can go for many interviews. But somehow job seekers have to prepare and be courteous and remember everyone involved counts, especially those interactions and interviews with H.R.
That’s why the gentleman had so many “meaningless interviews with H.R.” It’s the candidate who has to give those interviews meaning and make the right first impression. Because like the saying goes, there are rarely second chances.
Give those interviews with H.R. meaning:
- be courteous and respond appropriately and in a timely way.
- connect with the person on LinkedIn
- prepare and research information about the company
- prepare questions
- thank them for their time
- refer other candidates if you are not interested
If you have established a good rapport with the H.R. contact, you are more likely to be considered for another role if you are not successful and given performance feedback. That will help you reduce those meaningless interviews with H.R.