By Neil Patrick

A cautionary tale for interviewers - we reap what we sow, especially if we treat people badly.

This post will give you a smile if you have been rejected following a job interview. It shows how an interview can expose the interviewer's shortcomings just as much as the candidate's.

I was recently told this story by a candidate for an internal promotion at the firm she worked for. It was a panel interview with the the head of department, prospective line manager and an HR person.

The line manager was cocky. Her approach was to pile overbearing pressure onto the candidates. Her tone was brusque, interrupting frequently and generally trying to unsettle the applicants. Every candidate said it was the most traumatising interview they had ever had. One left in tears.

Part of this interviewer’s ‘technique’ was to probe every answer ad nauseum.

At one point, the interview went like this:

Line manager: “If you were appointed into this role, what would you do to reduce the gossip and rumouring amongst your team?”

Candidate: “I’d make it a team meeting agenda item and make it plain to my team that this is unacceptable because it creates all sorts of damaging consequences for the firm and potentially their own career progression”.

Line manager: "How do you know that would work? And why have you not done this already?"

Candidate: "Well I did have a discussion with my team about it, and they understood and it has noticeably lessened the problem."

Line manager: "So why have you not spread this to the rest of the company?"

Candidate: "Well that is above my pay grade."

Line manager: "But if this has been successful with your team why would you not want to share this with your peers?"

Candidate: "I think it should be endorsed by you first."

Line manager: "But this is the first time I have heard about this. Why didn’t you tell me about it?"

Candidate: "I did. I sent you an email."

Line Manager: "I never saw it."

Candidate: "When you didn’t reply, I sent it again. Twice."

Line Manager (visibly irritated): "Well send it to me again and I will look at it."

She didn’t get the promotion allegedly because another candidate who was judged to deserve the promotion more than she was offered the role.

But her feedback said she had performed well at interview and that she would be given the next available managers job when it became available.

A good interviewer doesn’t bully or pile on pressure. They probe without menace. They need every candidate to perform to the best of their ability, not the worst.

This isn’t the last time this sort of interview will happen, but maybe, just maybe, this person will wind their neck in a bit from now on...

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