"Don't work with jerks" has been one of my key principles for years. "Don't interview with jerks" is a close companion.
In a down market like this, the best hiring managers treat candidates with profound respect, realizing they're probably doing double the amount of interviewing compared to a healthy market. Yes, the interview process has always been a two-way street but it takes a mature, experienced hiring manager (or recruiter or executive) to treat it as such.
Here are 10 pro tips to treat candidates with respect.
1. Give candidates your questions in advance. Or at least a summary of what you'll discuss. Don't treat the interview like a pop quiz. If you do nothing else in this list, please do this. There are zero defensible reasons I know of to continue surprising candidates in interviews.
2. Please don't give take-home assignments, and especially don't give assignments without compensation. Alternatives: Ask better questions, allow more time to review their work, hone your ability to spot hidden talent.
3. You're not examining their ability to interview well. You’re interviewing them to understand if their experience and skills align with the needs of the role. Often strong team members are terrible interviewees. Help them give a great interview even if they're nervous or stumble.
4. Enthusiasm is a qualification faux pas. Unless enthusiasm is a critical part of the role, you're assessing the wrong thing. Put candidates at ease by reminding them this isn't a performance. It's a two-way exploration of alignment.
5. The demeanor of most interviews: “Welcome to our home. Please show and tell why you deserve to be a guest/resident in our home.”
A better way: “We’re an incomplete team right now. We’re missing a key position and we can’t play our best without it. We have a pretty good idea of the kind of player we’re looking for, but the ‘right’ player might be a little or a lot different from what we’re expecting."
6. Questions you're probably not asking: What does success look like for your next chapter? What are you not willing to do in your next chapter?
7. Are you (the hiring manager) empowered to say yes when the interview panel is a no? If not, you might be passing up superstar hires.
8. Let the candidate interview you and the company too. Reserve adequate time for questions. Or let them ask a couple questions first before you dive in with yours.
9. Please don't interview for "culture fit". In most cases, this means social fit. This a terrible way to create a diverse, inclusive team.
10. I know of only one constant when establishing recruiting or interviewing protocol for your org: It will be flawed. No matter how hard you try. Keep iterating your process and don't eliminate all risk from your decision-making!