Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cutting Interviews Short Isn't Easy

You've got a job seeker interviewing with your company; they're scheduled to meet with five people. After the first two interviewers give feedback, it's very clear the person will not be hired. So, is there any good way to cut the interview short?

The main advantage of cutting an interview short is that you save everyone time. Why have your most important people spend valuable time with a job seeker you know you won't hire?

A big disadvantage to cutting an interview short is that you leave a bad taste in the job seeker's mouth. I've cut two interviews short over the last two years. The first time was for a person who just couldn't communicate well. Even though we'd done a phone interview with him, for someone reason we couldn't understand what he was saying in person. Lacking any real sensitivity, I told the guy we were having trouble understanding him and that it wasn't going to work out. He didn't like that (surprise!) and stormed out of the office in less than a good mood. The second time I cut an interview short, the candidate was so relieved. He'd figured out the job wasn't for him and he couldn't figure out a way to save face and leave in the middle of the interview.

Is there a good way to cut short an interview? I'm not sure. It kind of feels like delivering other bad news. Is there a way to tell someone you ran over their cat with a truck, but you heard the neighbor down the street is giving away the cutest kittens EVER? Is there a good way to tell someone you just broke their favorite toy?

There's probably no good way to tell someone something awkward, because you have no way to predict how they will receive the news. When it comes to on site interviews, it's probably best just to see the interview through until the end and not commit to a interview cycle that is too long.

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