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June 28, 2022

Surprise: The Hiring Manager Is More Anxious Than The Job Seeker

Here is a hack that will make you feel more confident in your job search: the interviewer and hiring managers are more nervous than you are. It’s hard to wrap your mind around this concept, as people are indoctrinated to think that job seekers should be the ones who are nervous and anxious going into […]

Here is a hack that will make you feel more confident in your job search: the interviewer and hiring managers are more nervous than you are.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around this concept, as people are indoctrinated to think that job seekers should be the ones who are nervous and anxious going into an interview. They worry about being judged. Job hunters must contend with the shame of not moving onto the next level in the interview process. Even worse, they don’t receive feedback and get ghosted. The hiring process feels—to the job seeker—like the company, human resources, management and internal talent acquisition professionals hold all of the power.

What Hiring Managers Obsessively Worry About

A supervisor needs to hire. They want to make sure that the applicant possesses all of the requirements listed in the job description. The interviewer also wants to feel that they can click with the candidate and forge a mutually beneficial relationship.

If a person is a software engineer, the company can test their skills during the hiring process to tangibly assess their coding abilities. It's not that easy for the average job seeker. You almost have to just hope for the best. The manager is at a disadvantage, as they rely upon what the candidate says about their background, skills and experience. While references are called upon, most candidates scam the system. They only provide the names of people who they know will say warm and glowing things about them.

If the manager decides to make an offer and it doesn’t work out well, the supervisor loses political capital and is embarrassed. For instance, once an offer is extended, it takes time to be reviewed and approved by senior-level executives.

Oftentimes, especially in hot job markets, there is a lot of haggling concerning compensation, stock, options, benefits and corporate title. There may be an uncomfortable debate over the permitted work style—remote, hybrid, in-person, relocation to a lower-cost location or being a digital nomad.

The back-and-forth changes to the offer letter, which drags in human resources and a layer of management can start to irritate the bosses. They have their own work to do and feel that the direct manager can’t handle it.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A job seeker, who said they love the job, spends weeks nitpicking the offer letter, finally accepting the offer. Everyone involved breathes a sigh of relief. The team members are ecstatic over the news, as they’ll get some relief with the new hire.

The day before the new hire is supposed to start, the person emails the human resources representative involved with the process and copies everyone else, writing, “I’m sorry to have to let you know, but I’ve accepted another offer from a different company.” The now-former incumbent adds, “The other organization is paying significantly more money, is allowing me to work remotely and didn’t give as much pushback as you did. At the end of the day, I’m sure you appreciate that I need to do what’s best for my family.”

The direct supervisor is mortified. They feel betrayed and embarrassed. Over the three-week notice period, they were reassuring the senior executives, human resources and everyone else involved that things were going well. The office was already set up, including a computer, phone, desk, chair, paintings on the wall and a welcome gift package with balloons.

The team was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new team member, as they’ve been putting in long hours and weekends, helping with the extra workload. Now, they’re confronted with the harsh reality that there’s no help coming to the rescue. Even if the company commences a new search, it could take months. The workers will likely all complain and at least one person may quit for another job elsewhere, placing additional stress on the remainers.

The candidate in question moved on with their life. They are happy to have received a great offer. Meanwhile, the manager is miserable. The person feels that they let everyone down. The next level up is upset that this turned out so wrong. They now have to worry about the safety of their own job.

Lack Of Interview Training And Time Constraints

For some reason, leadership feels interviewing is an easy and natural thing to do. A quirk in the corporate system is that a sizable number of managers, who may be great at their jobs, don’t possess the social skills and etiquette to effectively interview people. It looks easy, but it’s not. Companies generally don’t offer interview training courses. They just assume managers will know what to do. This accounts for why you always get the clichè job questions. For many professionals thrown into the hiring process, interviewing is a frightening, nerve-wracking experience.

It’s also stressful, as they’re pulled away from their core responsibilities to read through dozens of rèsumès, coordinate and meet with three to 10 applicants over six months. For an extended period, the hiring manager needs to juggle his workload, oversee the staff and stay heavily invested in the recruiting process.

The next time you go to an interview and notice that the boss looks harried, worn out, unprepared and clearly didn’t read your rèsumè or view your LinkedIn profile, you can understand why, as you are now aware of what goes on behind the scenes.

The Paralyzing Effect Of Groupthink

It used to be that a candidate would meet with human resources, the boss and maybe one or two other people within a few weeks to a month. The current trend calls for a candidate to meet with the human resources, the manager, the manager’s boss, other executives within the division, peers, underlings, business counterparts and some others who clearly don’t know why they’ve been invited.

With so many people involved, the process becomes long and clunky. As up to 10 people need to be looped into the interview process, there will always be someone who is out sick, stuck on a conference call, running late or simply forgot to put it into their calendar. This process needs to be repeated over and over again for around six to 10 candidates.

No one wants to be the one to make the final decision, as they don’t want the finger-pointing and blame, in case the incumbent employee turns out to be a disaster. The hiring manager will lean on the other interviewers to weigh in with their opinions. If there are a few dissenters, a low-confidence manager will remove the person from consideration and the process starts all over again. This is similar to the annoyance of trying to get family members or a group of friends to all agree on a movie to watch or where to go for dinner.

Fear Of Lawsuits Or Being Called Out For Biases

This topic is largely avoided in polite circles. Ten-plus years ago, human resources or the hiring manager would offer feedback and constructive criticism throughout the hiring process. If the candidate was not selected for an offer, the HR person or hiring manager would tell them the reasons why they were not chosen. It was an uncomfortable conversation, but it was made. The company deemed it the right and fair thing to do by offering its reasons as to why the applicant wasn’t moving forward—giving the job seeker closure.

In today’s litigious society, everyone is worried about lawsuits or being labeled. There is a fear that if feedback is offered, it could be misconstrued as being sexist, racist or some other prejudice or bias. People involved with hiring are afraid of having their reputation ruined and being fired or viewed as a pariah. An allegation could lead to their career being over. No other company would touch them. The path of least resistance is to ghost the applicant and not say or write anything at all.

How You Can Benefit From The Situation And Close The Deal

Now that you know what is happening behind the curtains, you realize that the people responsible for hiring have to deal with stress, fear and anxiety. Of course, if you are in between roles, you suffer from similar feelings. However, the applicant can always walk away. The HR professional and everyone involved with the recruiting process are still at the company.

You can use this information to your advantage. You know now how to play the game. Make the interviewer’s life easy by offering days and times that work best for the hiring manager. Show up with extra copies of your rèsumè. Have a tight, concise elevator pitch handy, in case they didn't do their homework on you. Be polite and understanding, as you know the hoops that they are made to jump through. You also won’t get as offended now that you understand their challenges.

A key takeaway to closing the deal is to say, “I enjoyed the conversations with everyone. The company and people are all great. My experience, background, talents and education meet and exceed all of the requirements on the job description. I believe that I would be a great candidate and offer value to your organization.”

Then, you go for the close, “If you would offer me the role at the compensation we discussed, I’d happily accept the offer!” Add, “I promise that if the offer is extended I won’t entertain a counteroffer for a competing offer from another company.”

This will make the nervous hiring manager relax, as they know they found the right person who will take the offer and end the laborious hiring process. The boss can go back to their job, the staff gets additional help, you get a great new job and everyone is happy.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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