More than half (56 percent) of all employers reported that a candidate rejected their job offer in 2012.
As both a manager and a job applicant, I know what it's like to be in a group job interview and have to keep the interest of everyone else in the room. In a recent conversation with a colleague about her job hunt, I advised her on what hiring managers look for when speaking to candidates and what the job applicant should do to keep the group attentive. She was going on her second job interview with two different companies. However, as soon as she left both of the follow-up interviews, she told me she considered writing a "thank you" e-mail and pulling her name out of possible candidates. Here were her reasons why.
There's a cordial way to let a job applicant down. Maybe my colleague didn't seem to fit in with the company culture. Maybe there was a qualification for the job not originally advertised that my colleague didn't have. Or, maybe my colleague said something that rubbed one of the team members the wrong way. However, as a professional in any workplace, there's a refined way to handle this. Ask clear questions. Patiently wait for the answers. Then politely let the candidate leave and thank her for her time. Even if this is a candidate you never want to hire, nothing good comes from being the corporate version of a Simon Cowell.* Being rude or disengaged during a group interview can also be distracting for the other employees in the room. Who wants to hear someone making beats on a cup in the middle of a job interview? This isn't "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.**"
My colleague asked me what did I think the reasons were that these two interviewers were disengaged. Without personally being in attendance, it's difficult to speculate. Maybe she wasn't the person that they wanted to get this far in the job search. Maybe there were personal issues outside of work that distracted them. Or, it could be something as simple as certain employees being uncomfortable during the interviewing process. Quiet as it's kept, not all employees want to be included in a job interview, but if their managers want them to weigh in then what are they supposed to do? Opt out of a mandatory meeting?
While it'd be easier to believe that maybe my colleague was the one doing something wrong, I followed up with her later on and found out that she'd been hired for an alternate job. Her resume didn't change. She confirmed that her interviewing habits didn't change. So I asked her, "What did change?" Her response, "I found a company that seemed to genuinely care about my time as much as I cared about theirs."
* Simon Cowell was a judge on the talent show "American Idol."
** Video: In the 1990 to 1996 sitcom "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," this is a scene in which actor-rapper Will Smith played spoons at a formal function. My colleague could be compared to his cousin Hillary, who is sitting next to Will.