My daughter is 17 and has worked at a fast-food restaurant and as a snowboard instructor. She recently applied to a few stores at the mall. She got a great response when she handed in her résumé to one clothing retailer and secured an interview. She researched the history of the company and its brands and brushed up on her interviewing skills.
She was excited when she went for the interview but afterward, her whole demeanour changed. She didn’t think the interview went well: The manager didn’t shake her hand when introducing herself or when the interview ended, and seemed to be in a rush. The manager asked questions such as “What is the difference between sales and selling?” Nothing was mentioned about the company or its brands.
She was told they would be making a decision by the end of the week and would let her know. The week came and went. She asked me whether she should call them; I said give them a few more days. After another week, she decided she probably didn’t get the job.
I can’t believe how unprofessional that manager’s behaviour was. Should I have told my daughter to call the store and ask for feedback?
I find this so unprofessional, even for a job in retail. What are some key interviewer etiquette tips hiring managers need to know?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Chief human resources officer, Canadian Tire, Toronto
It is unfortunate that your daughter had a negative interviewing experience, especially since she prepared so diligently. Given that we will all have more job interviews than job offers, it is always a good idea to conduct the proper follow-up. This should be done in a courteous manner that seeks constructive feedback and advice for future interviews.
It is critical that hiring managers take their role seriously and ensure they have the proper training. They should consider themselves brand ambassadors and always exude enthusiasm for their company. Interviewers need to remember that candidates are also customers and a negative experience can affect a company’s reputation.
Hiring managers should think of the interview as a conversation; your job is to probe (not pry) for as much relevant information as possible to make an informed decision. Ask open-ended questions directly related to the tasks the candidate will perform and the skills they will need. In retail, questions should generally focus on customer service. Take notes and allow time for the candidate’s questions – what they ask can often be as telling as how they respond.
Lastly, interviewers must let candidates know when they will hear back and what type of feedback will be provided. A prompt response will allow the candidate to continue to view the company positively even if she does not get the job.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Founder, Women’s Executive Network, Toronto
Unfortunately, your daughter’s experience is an all-too-familiar one and reflects a few trends taking place in business.
The pace of business is so fast that often basic consideration and courtesy are left by the wayside. E-mails go unanswered, phone calls are not returned and, as with your daughter, there was no follow-up to the interview. This break-neck speed also means that, in some situations, staff do not receive the training necessary to conduct hiring interviews or to effectively deal with human resources-type issues.
It doesn’t sound as though you’re daughter’s interviewer was a full-time HR person with primary hiring responsibility, and may have been as nervous about conducting the interview as your daughter was attending it. But that doesn’t excuse the negative non-verbal cues and lack of follow-up.
A good interviewer will actively listen, encourage the candidate to ask questions, and look for the interviewee to provide examples of how they dealt with a challenging situation. A good interviewer makes eye contact and tries to make the candidate comfortable by relating to her in some way. Body language is also critical to setting a positive tone for the interview.
Asking for feedback after an interview is always a good idea; it helps a candidate to grow and better prepare for the next interview. Your daughter should leave this interview experience behind, take what she can from it and move forward.
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