Employers must also be on their best behavior

Friday, August 13, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 33

Job applicants have many social rules that are necessary to increase their chances of being taken seriously as a candidate. On the flip side, there also are rules companies should follow when interviewing candidates. These give the company the best chances of attracting the best candidates.

Let’s start with the rules job seekers must follow. The list is long because there is so much riding on first impressions:

• Communication must be quick, concise and clear

• Dress appropriately

• Be on time to the job interview

• If you’re given homework during the interview process, return it promptly.

• Quickly follow the interview with thank you notes or emails.

Any misstep in these social rules, and the company will likely drop you in favor of another candidate.

The problem is, companies often forget this is a dance. It involves two parties. And, in a job market like the one today, job seekers have more choices. They can walk away when the company doesn’t follow social rules.

The social rules for companies are equally important:

• The company should follow up with candidates promptly to schedule interviews and to provide feedback during the process.

• The hiring manager should be on time to interviews.

• They should arrive prepared, having read the candidate’s resume.

• They should be attentive and respectful.

• The company should avoid making the interview process too long or too time-consuming.

• They should work not to ask questions that are too personal (and illegal).

• The company should be honest.

• Most of all, they should be respectful of a candidate’s time. Candidates are making a big investment when they choose to interview with a company, taking time off work or finding a quiet time to take an interview during work hours.

The thing that seems quite shocking is just what a one-way street the interview process often is.

Companies treat candidates as if their own behavior doesn’t influence the candidate. The interviewer will often show up late. They’ll ask to reschedule at the last moment. When the interview does happen, they’re often unprepared. They will ask questions that are illegal, forcing the candidate to play along in order to be considered. They keep the candidate in the dark for months about the status of the job interview.

And, in the end, if they extend an offer, they expect the candidate to be excited to work for them.

This might work in a bad job market because people are desperate. In today’s market, companies need to spend as much time being respectful to candidates as candidates spend being respectful to them.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.