How Bad Companies Scare Off Perfect Candidates

Image of a bored women during product manager interview

I love interviewing people. That’s because interviews are about listening and learning. As the CEO of a rapidly growing software company, the people we hire are everything. Employees make the business go. I have internalized this.

I spend a lot of time reading resumes and interviewing candidates. It’s one of the most important things I do at Aha! (which is product roadmap software). And I do my best to be on time, informed, and considerate. Every time.

Managers sometimes forget that interviews are a two-way street. And at the end of the day, they need great employees like you a lot more than you need them.

Great companies are built by great employees. And great employees are always great candidates, first. But just because hiring managers have the power to hire is not a guarantee that they do it well. It takes hard work and the belief that every candidate matters.

If you are reading this, you likely have talent. The best candidates can often choose where they work.

This is especially true in an economy that has improved over the last few years. So when you do approach a company and are a good fit, it’s up to the company not to scare you off.

So here is my advice for managers hoping to hire awesome candidates like you. After years of interviews, I have learned that these words that interviewers use scare candidates off faster than they can say, “offer”:

“Do you have a resume?”
In the era of Google and LinkedIn, reviewing candidates has never been easier. Before they approach your office, it is the interviewer’s job to have done his homework. Asking candidates for their resume doesn’t keep them on their toes — it makes managers look disorganized. Or worse, disrespectful.

“Can you wait outside while I take this call?”
One of the biggest mistakes employers make is to keep candidates waiting. It’s rude. I am sure that you do not appreciate waiting for a scheduled appointment, so why make a key hire wait?

“We’ve been hiring for this role for ages”
Whether your company has been hiring for two days or two years, keep it out of the interview. It’s irrelevant to the candidate — and makes them start to wonder why the boss has had such trouble.

“The last person in this role quit”
No matter why the last person left, it’s inappropriate to tell a candidate. Alarm bells go off for candidates when they hear these words. What went wrong, they think and who will be out to get me? The hiring manager is still a stranger to them at this point so don’t start the relationship off with a negative vibe.

All great companies are built with vision and the best employees to help achieve it. When a terrific candidate wants to work for a company and is not hired, most of the time the hiring manager was the problem.

The way managers interview says a lot about the way they work. Just as they are trying to assess the fit, the best candidates are trying to figure the company out too. If they treat every interviewee as top-notch, when they do meet you or another talented person, they will not scare you away. And that’s the purpose of hiring, right?

What’s the craziest thing you have heard during an interview?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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