Highly likely it was not as “out of the blue” as you may have thought.
Are you staying in communication with your candidate? Whatever you do, no matter how busy you get, Don’t Go Dark. If he sends you a note, respond back. Or take the proactive approach and take two seconds to drop a quick email that says something like “Didn’t forget about you. I want to bring you back in when my other manager is back from vacation” or pick up the phone and do a quick check in call. Ask what else he has going on. Has anything changed since you last met?
Maybe you’re thinking, “well, this guy has no other interviews, so I have time to spare.” Having a conversation is better than asking for someone to “update their resume”. It’s pretty typical for a passive candidate, who does not even have an up to date resume when you originally contact them, to all of a sudden open up the floodgates to see what else is out there when they have a polished resume. All your hard work of getting them “on the market” may end up paying off for one of your competitors.
First thought may be that a “bad interview” is one where the candidate blows it. Not always the case. As a hiring manager, you have just as much as responsibility for making it an effective and successful meeting. Top performers will be making their own judgment calls throughout the process. When you meet a candidate for the first time, you are representing not only yourself as a manager, but your company as well. Take some time to prepare. Read the resume in advance. Be ready with some thoughtful relevant questions that not only evaluate skills, but that also probe for a pattern of achievement. Think about how you will “sell” the opportunity as one that is right for the candidate. And don’t forget to dress the part. Doesn’t mean you have to don your Sunday Best, but be well put together with a the look that reflects the culture of your company. Casual doesn’t mean unprofessional.
And speaking of unprofessional….Make sure your calendar is blocked so you are not late or rushed, don’t bring your phone, and for goodness sake, don’t eat lunch while conducting an interview. Sounds silly, but we’ve seen it happen.
Keep Your Word
This is a big one for candidates. No one likes to be misled, so don’t let that be the case with your candidates. If there is a candidate you are speaking with over the phone or by e-mail, and you tell them that you would like them to come in for a live interview, then be sure to follow through. Even if there is a delay, go back to the first point of this blog and communicate changes to the plan in a timely manner.
On the other hand, if you know that you don’t want to move forward to the next stage, be honest with him. Rather than waste his time and yours, politely tell the candidate that you don’t feel it is exactly the match you are looking for at this time. You don’t need to get overly-specific. Saying you have other candidates that have more closely related experience is an easy way to let someone out of the process. Misleading candidates or lack of follow through can be hurtful to your company’s employment brand.
Just as you would in your day to day job, take hiring seriously. Respectful relationship building with people is a win-win. Be careful not to burn any bridges. At a minimum, this may be an opportunity to create a potential hire for the future, be a prospective networking contact for yourself or even a source of referrals for forthcoming hiring. If they have a bad experience they will never come back and they will surely be telling their friends.