No matter how long you are in a profession, you are going to make mistakes. I think that’s actually healthy, because if you stop learning in your profession, then your eventually going to hit a wall and peter out. This week was one of those days where I learned something. That I need to trust my gut and intuition, despite talking myself out of it in one recent scenario.
Here’s the quick and dirty of the story – A few weeks back, I had a candidate that I had phone interviewed for a development role with my company. Pretty standard “day in the life” as things go for me most Monday – Fridays. I had a good conversation with the candidate, and felt he was a strong fit for the role. I had tech’ed him out as best as I’m able – after all, my development skills meander somewhere between reading coding articles for fun and being able to hen-peck some HTML and CSS for my site.
I sent him over to the manager who had some trouble getting him on the phone at the scheduled time, and who also felt that there was something funky going on, as if there was a 3rd caller on the line. Nevertheless, he made it through the technical phone screen and was quite frankly, a front-runner for the role. So we scheduled to fly him in from the city he lives in to come in and meet with the team. The phone issue bothered both the manager and I a bit, but we both chalked it up to just a funky call. After all, he hit all the cylinders on the technical portion of the call.
Fast forward to this week. I woke up the day of the interview, and literally the first thought out of my head when I woke up that morning was “I really hope this goes smooth, and the phone nonsense was just an anomaly.” I can tell you that this isn’t usually the first thing on my mind at 6:15am. It’s usually more along the lines of “why are these kids UP already” or “is the damn coffee ready yet?” So that bothered me all the way to work.
When he got there for the interview, he wasn’t as talkative as he was on the phone, and was a bit standoffish. There was also a verbal tic that, while it did not bother me at all, wasn’t there before. Let me add that he was 10-15 minutes late for the interview, and the hotel he was at is about a 400 step walk from our office. I brought him to the manager and after he and a lead engineer interviewed him, we were very confident that this was not the same candidate that was on the phone interview with us a week prior.
We all knew this was almost certainly the case, and I asked the candidate point blank if he was the same person. He calmly answered he was. That was the end of the story for me. We ended the interview. If someone accused me of that, I’d be adamant and insulted at the mere suggestion of this. The calm, yet unconvincing answer I got told me all I needed to know. Hey, it happens every decade or so. You get the wool pulled over your eyes.
My point here, is that in a business where you go the extra mile to make people feel comfortable and are have to make multiple decisions on daily basis, you’re bound to screw up sometimes. In 99 out of 100 other cases, you’d never get fooled like that, but it’s the 1 time that really gut-punches you.
What makes us good at our profession as recruiters though, is the ability to shake off the dust when you get your rear-end handed to you. You say your apologies and try not to fester on what derailed an otherwise good week.
I’m going to trust my instincts more in the future, as they’ve served me pretty well over the course of the last 20 years doing this work. I have no other choice. That’s my guiding light in an otherwise dark tunnel when you talk to 100-150 people a week.
What I can tell you is that I’ll probably be doing some more Skype interviews for out-of-town candidates in the future. And tomorrow is another day.