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  • Ben Kettle

You had one job🤦

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Or "How to not reject a candidate."


Recently a friend and former employee got passed over for a role. That’s fine; it happens. We’ve all been there.


What’s not OK is the feedback the hiring company provided. It’s not that it was rude or overly harsh - it was worse. The hiring manager’s feedback demonstrated, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that they didn’t know the candidate at all.


My goal with this post is to illustrate why not knowing a candidate is a failure to do your most important job and will lead to a pretty crappy candidate experience that can harm your and your company’s reputation.

It’s not that hard


The title of Graham Duncan’s excellent “What’s going on here, with this human?” blog post says it all. As someone in the position to hire someone else, your one job is to determine what is going on with the person you’re evaluating and if and where they fit into your organization. Doing so requires that you learn who they are as quickly and accurately as possible.


That’s it. If you’re looking to make a friend, stroke your ego, or play some strange game of gotcha with esoteric brainteasers, then you’re doing it wrong.


Sadly for my friend, and embarrassingly for the company that interviewed her, it’s evident in their post-process feedback that the hiring manager came up woefully short of their one job. I won’t go into specifics, but after reading their feedback, I said, “Um, did they send this to the wrong person?” Everyone else she showed it to said the same thing.


If you find yourself in the privileged position to have a say in someone else’s professional future, please have the decency to get to know them as best you can. If you find yourself trying to be the candidate’s friend, or prove your intelligence, ask yourself if you’ve learned anything valuable about who that candidate is and what they can do for your organization - more often than not, you haven’t.


And, for the sake of your reputation and your company’s “hiring brand,” if you half-assed figuring out the human you’re supposed to figure out, please don’t make it comically obvious in your feedback to that exact same human.


After all, half-assing things is never a good look.


Take it away, Matthew.



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