The Care and Feeding of Candidates

Providing a Great Candidate Interviewing Experience

Here is another great article from Howard Adamsky! Enjoy…

The Care and Feeding of Candidates

A Primer on Making a Good First Impression

howard adamskyTreating candidates well when they come to interview is very important. The candidate must feel welcomed by everyone with whom they come in contact from the person at the front door to the CEO. Bad behavior is simply not allowed from anyone as rank does NOT have its privilege in this scenario. (By the way, arrogance is so last century. Please don’t ask how many gas stations are in the United States or how to move the everglades in the guise of wanting to see “how they think” because it just annoys the candidate.)

First things first; the easiest way to provide a great candidate interviewing experience is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. Quite frankly, the candidate should be treated like a valued customer. (In a sense they are “buying” your company to ply their skill sets as opposed to “buying” another company with whom you compete.) If you do not have this as a mindset, I suggest you change your thinking and change it fast.

Simply stated, there is nothing worse than a candidate who had a bad interviewing experience. It will be remembered until the end of time and this is an awful thing because you never know when a candidate might become a customer, partner, vendor or anything else that will affect your business so making a good impression is certainly in your best interest.

With this in mind, consider incorporating the following ideas into your interviewing experience. If you utilize these ideas, you will have more offers accepted, more new employees impressed with how you do business and even candidates you do not hire will remember your organization a great place to have interviewed:

• Upon the candidate’s arrival, greet the candidate in a positive and upbeat manner and ask if they would like anything (coffee, tea, restroom, etc.) The first introduction to your organization is vital. If you are having a bad day, save it until you go home and be the professional that you were hired to be.

• If you tell the candidate that you will get back to them for any reason, tell them exactly when you will be making the call and do it when promised. There are few things worse than having a fuming candidate waiting for a call that was promised three days ago.

• All interviewers should have a copy of the position profile, the candidate’s resume, and the interviewing schedule together in one neat, clean folder. The interviewers should read the candidate’s resume prior to the candidate arrival. Reading it in front of the candidate is poor manners and shows that you did not prepare.

• Begin the interview process on time if at all possible. Candidates do understand that things come up, but if there is a last minute change, or you run late, all you have to do is apologize. A simple and sincere apology will usually be just fine.

• Be sure the candidate has time scheduled for lunch. Allow 90 minutes if you go to a restaurant and 60 minutes if you have food delivered to the office. Ask the candidate what type of food they like. Vegetarians do not value the greasy steak and cheese sandwich you give them, and those who doze after eating carbohydrates do not look forward to macaroni and cheese.

• Be sure the candidate has all of the information required for the interview. That includes the time of the interview, name of the person to ask for upon arrival, a position profile to review, an interviewing schedule with names and positions listed, the correct address, URL, and travel directions.

• Lunch is not a time off the record interviewing. It is a time for forming relationships, trading war stories, talking about the industry, and doing some gentle probing on important issues. Do not grill the candidate over lunch; it is not a good tactic.

• End the interviewing schedule as close to on time as possible. If you will run late, ask the candidate’s permission, since they might have another appointment.

• Inform the candidate as to the next step in the process, when you will be in touch and do so on time.

• Thank the candidate for their time. If they are going to the airport, be sure to get them there on time and be sure their departure is as upbeat and friendly as the arrival.

Successful first impressions lead to many good things. None of the above ideas are difficult to execute but can be implemented with a bit of discipline and a clear process. If for any reason, things go wrong as they sometimes will, simply apologize and most candidates will be happy to forgive the transgression. Please remember that if the candidate walks out of the interview with a less then favorable impression, you have a very serious problem.



Howard Adamsky ( has been recruiting since 1985 and is still alive to talk about it. A consultant, writer, public speaker, and educator, he works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years’ experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent. An internationally published author, he is a regular contributor to ERE Media, a member of the Human Capital Institute’s Small and Mid-Sized business panel, a Certified Internet Recruiter, and rides one of the largest production motorcycles ever built. His book, Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) is in local bookstores and available online. He is also working on his second book, The 25 New Rules for Today’s Recruiting Professional.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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