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by: Liz Ryan-FORBES

Dear Liz,

I’m an Inside Sales Supervisor for an electrical supply company. There are four Inside Salespeople on my team. One of them resigned last month to go to college full-time so I have a job opening to fill.

We ran a job ad and got a good response. Together with our HR person I narrowed down the field to five candidates and we scheduled interviews for those five people. So far I’ve interviewed two of them.

The first candidate, “Sarah,” is a nice person but she is all wrong for this job. I could see her in a sales support role but she doesn’t want to close deals, and that’s what my team does all day.

The second candidate, “Rick,” is perfect for the job. The whole time I was talking with him I could see him in the job.

His background is even in electrical supplies so the learning curve will be easier for Rick than it is for most people. I can’t see any reason to interview the other three candidates, but their interviews are already scheduled.

Is it tacky or unprofessional to cancel the three remaining interviews and tell those people that we hired someone already? I hate to waste their time and my own time when I already know who I want to hire.

What’s your opinion?

Thanks,

Valeria

Dear Valeria,

Every interviewer on earth has had the same feeling you had when you met Rick.

Sometimes you start talking with a candidate and you think “This person is perfect for the job — my search is over!”

Resist the temptation to cut your interview process short. Stay the course and interview the three remaining candidates.

Your perspective will shift as you work through the rest of the interview process.

It is never a good idea to make yes/no decisions about candidates in the moment.

A hiring decision is not an x + y= z equation. It is a complex process that requires time and reflection.

As you meet and talk with the other three candidates, new ideas will emerge. When you get to the end of the interview schedule you may still feel that Rick is your best hire — or you may feel differently.

Maybe you’ll see the Inside Sales job from a new perspective with three more conversations and many more hours of contemplation behind you.

Maybe you’ll decide that Rick’s knowledge of electrical supplies is less important that Cecilia’s maturity and poise or Miguel’s expertise at telephone sales.

Once you schedule an interview with a candidate, it is set in stone.

You asked if it is tacky or unprofessional to cancel a scheduled interview because you think your search is over.

Yes, it is tacky and unprofessional to offer someone a job interview and then rescind the offer.

Don’t ever do that. No matter how excited you get about a particular candidate, never offer them the job before you’ve completed your interview process.

Don’t ever tell a candidate “I think you’re perfect for the job” or “I could see you in this role very easily” for the same reason. You would feel terrible if you had to eat those words!

Keep an open mind during your three remaining interviews. They will not be a waste of your time. My guess is that you’ll experience at least one powerful “Aha!” during each of the three upcoming interviews, no matter which candidate gets the job offer in the end.

Many managers report than when they are hiring a new person (and especially when they are desperate to get somebody into the job) they tend to show a bias toward the first few candidates they meet.

When you interview someone and think “This person can do the job” your busy brain might conclude “Rick is perfectly qualified for the job — so I don’t need to meet anyone else. Case closed!”

Don’t listen to your hurry-scurry brain! Take a deep breath and carry on. Interview all five candidates. Sit down with your HR person and/or your manager and talk through the five interviews. Talk about what’s important in the job, not just in the near term but over the long haul, too.

Make a hiring decision, and then sleep on it. In the morning, call the candidate you want to hire and tell them that you’re close to making an offer. Make sure they are still interested! Ask them what it will take compensation-wise to get them on board.

Don’t ever fling a job offer at someone without asking them if the offer you have in mind will work for them. If you need to check references, conduct a drug screen or carry out any other steps in your hiring process, put those processes in motion.

When you are ready, create an offer letter and let it fly! Call the other four candidates and thank them for coming in to meet you, like this:

Rrrrrring!

Sarah: Sarah Martinez!

You: Hi Sarah, this is Valeria Winthrop from Acme Electrical Supply. How’s your day going?

Sarah: I’m really good, Valeria. Did you fill your Inside Sales job?

You: We did, and I wanted to let you know —

Sarah: — That you hired someone else. I understand. I don’t have a lick of Inside Sales experience so it was nice of you to interview me.

You: It was nice to meet you, too. I was wondering if I can give your resume to our Sales Support Manager, Claudia. I thought you might be interested in a Sales Support role with our company. I don’t think she has an opening right this minute, but our company is growing and she’s hired several people this year.

Sarah: Sure, that sounds great! I can tell the company is growing. Sales Support would be fun.

You: Okay, perfect. Thanks for coming over here, Sarah, and best of luck to you!

Sarah: Thanks for the interview!

End of Script

Your reputation, your company’s reputation and your growth as a manager all require that once you establish an interview schedule, you stick to it.

We can cut corners with mechanical processes, but not with human processes. Your integrity and professionalism are more important than saving a few hours of interviewing time or slicing a few days off a recruiting pipeline.

Good luck to you and your team!

All the best,

Liz

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