Hiring is an exercise in risk management. Hiring managers want the best hire possible; candidates want the best job possible.
But hiring managers, and employers in general, routinely forget the candidate’s perspective.
For a candidate, the decision to take a job is somewhere between buying a car and buying a house in importance. They (understandably) want to kick the tires. You would never sign a contract without reading it, and neither would a good candidate. Would you expect them not to? Would you even want to hire someone who wouldn’t do due diligence on a massively important decision? Taking a job is a legal agreement with huge ramifications.
But too many hiring managers take it personally when candidates have real questions and want to know real things about the organization. They start to shut down if the client hits too close to home. They feel like the questioning candidate is overly intrusive.
Maybe the hiring managers are embarrassed because they don’t know and don’t have a good answer. Or maybe they are uncomfortable with acknowledging any failure and vulnerability within the organization, especially to an outsider that they haven’t hired yet.
Or maybe they take the probing questions as a sign that this person isn’t right for the position — that the candidate doesn’t have the passion and enthusiasm for this particular job, they just want a job. These hiring managers believe they are protecting the organization from the mediocre. Passionate, enthusiastic candidates wouldn’t ask these sorts of questions.
This hiring manager discomfort extends into the offer stage. The candidates starts asking questions about pay and benefits. They’re trying to get the best deal possible — also known as negotiating. Negotiations happen with every major deal — new car, new house, etc.
But when it’s their open job, plenty of employers see negotiations as a sign that the candidate just wants money, and must not be in love with the job.
Instead of being uncomfortable with candidates who ask deep, detailed, probing questions, hiring managers should actually be more comfortable. Candidates who do their research are really thinking about your success. If they researched and are coming up with good questions, they care enough to make sure that it’s the right fit. The candidate is actually trying to start the employment off on the right foot.
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