How many times have you scheduled an interview with a company you were excited about only to have it fall apart in the phone screening process? I hear stories like this all the time. Candidates really like the company and then have an encounter with a recruiter who does not appear to understand what they do or is reading from a script.
There are many blogs out here in cyberspace that will advise you to move on because the company does not care about their on-boarding process. Others will state that this is the first impression (which it is) and indicative of what you will find throughout the organization.
I will contradict this advice and suggest that candidates judge a company by the entire interview team. In many cases, companies have grown quickly and the recruiting team is new, overworked, very young in their careers or all three.
Let’s take a different approach to this situation. What if you helped the screening person and provided helpful information so that had a better understanding of what you do and why you are good for the role and the company? Keep in mind that I said helpful information – this does not work if you sound condescending. Imagine the goodwill you gain in the process. This recruiter is now your ally and you just made an amazing first impression.
Example: I used to consult in PeopleSoft HCM and I would get calls frequently for technical roles or to implement modules outside of my expertise area. On the surface to a non-PeopleSoft person, it appeared that anyone knowing PeopleSoft HCM should be able to handle the role. This was certainly not the case. Instead of getting impatient with the recruiter, I simply explained that people make this mistake all the time and that an HCM person does not always have experience with the modules they are recruiting for. I then asked the recruiter if they had a good understanding of the differences between modules and provided useful information to help him in his search. I obviously did not get the role, but I do stay in touch with the recruiter after 8 years.
This is not to say that this will work all the time, but I rather lean towards giving the recruiter the benefit of the doubt first before writing off the company completely. It also does not make excuses for rude behavior. You can tell when an interviewer is uncomfortable with the job they are recruiting for and when someone is simply being rude.
If you find that the initial negative impression remains consistent throughout the interview process, may I suggest sending an email or calling the recruiter and simply explaining that the role is not what you thought it was or the company is not a fit. You still thank them for their time and consideration Just remember that they are people too and who knows where you may encounter this person again.
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