Archive for December, 2013

What Happened to Consistency?

December 22, 2013

One of my friends and longtime recruiting colleague posted on Facebook a cartoon of a recruiter at his computer with his hands outstretched.  The caption says, “No!  I think it’s a great idea to interview four people before deciding what your real hiring requirements are…said no recruiter, ever.”   Hmmm.  Hits a little too close to home for me.  This happens more times than I care to recall.

From where I stand, consistency in direction, action, thought process, and communications seems increasingly lacking in the interviewing world.  And yes, this applies to candidates as well as hiring executives.  It rears its ugly head across all physical and electronic venues, too.

What happens when someone, either consciously or subliminally, picks up on someone else’s inconsistency?  Very likely, it leads to tinge of doubt. Questions of trust arise as an air of disingenuousness permeates from such divergence.  It’s these subtle (or in some cases, not so subtle) undercurrents that can lead to a “not a cultural fit” verdict.

I see all kinds of inconsistencies between candidates and hiring managers.  Let’s look at a few of them.  Have you ever received an email from someone that was friendly, warm and thoughtful…only to speak with that person on the phone or face-to-face and find that they’re not so personable after all?  It also happens the other way around, in which their emails are terse and seemingly put together with no thought or care, only to meet with that same person and find them to be expressive and considerate.  Granted, email is not the optimal venue for furthering a relationship.  It is an efficient means to convey data.  Yet, there’s something to be said for consistency of style.  If you send a lackluster or snippy email to a hiring manager, that person may wonder what you’ll be like when you’re emailing colleagues or customers.

Inconsistency comes in many other forms.  I’ve seen highly talented candidates, with exceptionally organized thought processes and strong subject matter expertise, go into an interview shooting from the hip.  Suddenly, they’ve lost prioritization of ideas, focusing solely on one facet of the role at the expense of other components, or running on and on with their answers to interview questions when in prior conversations, they exhibited control in staying on point and landing the plane.  In this case, inconsistency reflects a lack of preparedness or at a more fundamental level, lack of self-awareness.

Look at all the inconsistencies within resumes and LinkedIn profiles.  First of all, the two should not conflict with each other.  Content, dates, and over messaging should be very similar.  And there’s always that tried and true chuckle-worthy disconnect, seeing candidates tout their attention to detail, only to sport typos and formatting irregularities.

Getting back to my friend’s Facebook cartoon, hiring managers must take the time to truly define the role and its associated responsibilities.  They need to formulate a profile of what the optimal candidate looks like for that role and determine which attributes they can be flexible on and which ones are must-haves.  It is a colossal waste of time for everyone involved, hiring executives included, when the job specification turns out to be a moving target.  Sure, company direction will change and roles tend to evolve, but not during the few weeks earmarked for interviewing and hiring.

I’ve seen inconsistency amongst the interview team, too.  This is why I counsel candidates that amongst the array of questions they plan to ask the interviewers, reserve several key questions to ask all the interviewers and see what kinds of discrepancies take shape in their answers.  While it’s perfectly fine for interviewers to offer additional perspectives and visions on the same issue, answers that directly conflict with other interviewers’ answers could spell challenges with organizational cohesion and objectives alignment, decision-making, internal politics, and communications effectiveness.  Any one of these issues could have a deleterious impact on the role the candidate is vying for.

Finally, consider the interview process itself.  All too often, candidates come out of an interview amped up and excited to proceed with the next step, as outlined by the hiring executive.  Then a week or two goes by because Mr. Buzzkill hiring manager isn’t prioritizing interviewing and hiring the way he appeared to be during the interview.  Of course, even without interviewing, hiring and onboarding, hiring managers already have a full plate.  However, not following through in a timely manner between interview rounds will likely spark questions in candidates’ (and recruiters’) minds – Does this company have their act together and how important is this role they’re looking to fill?

Consistency in approach, demeanor, messaging, decisions, and actions has everything to do with credibility.  And credibility is key throughout the hiring process.  Candidates need to see consistency in the way hiring companies conduct the interview process as that may be a harbinger of things to come as an employee.  Hiring managers need to see consistency in how candidates think and communicate.  Consistency requires effort.  Yet, any effort that breeds credibility and trust is effort well spent.


Action items:

1.  Whether a candidate or hiring manager, walk the talk without major variance.  Be the same person all the time, through all venues and methods of communications.

2.  As a hiring executive, solidify the position you’re looking to fill and meet with the interview team you’re putting together to talk it out.  Make sure you have everyone’s buy-in on the role and its impact in the organization.

3.  Consistency is synonymous with integrity.  Without it, people will be hard pressed to overcome the inherent lack of trust.