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The Quickest Way to Lose a Job Offer

05 Feb 2024 9:50 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

The Quickest Way to Lose a Job Offer

Bruce Hurwitz

Jan 19 2024

Years, alright, decades ago, I had a job interview. I arrived 10 minutes early, as I always did. I introduced myself to the receptionist, told her who I wanted to see, and sat down to wait. I waited 25 minutes and then returned to the receptionist, told her I was withdrawing my candidacy, wished her well, and walked to the elevator.

Apparently, I did not see her do it, the receptionist had called the person with whom I had the appointment and told him I was leaving. As I got to the elevator, the man ran up to me and asked me where I was going, not why I was going. I told him a job interview was a two-way street and I didn't want to work for someone who keeps people waiting. (Yes, I arrived early but I left 15 minutes after the scheduled time for my appointment.) It's rude, shows bad time management skills, and was not what I was interested in.

As this conversation began, the elevator doors opened. A woman who wanted to get out kept the doors open. She listened to the conversation. She introduced herself. She was the company's CEO. She apologized to me. I thanked her. She told the man I was supposed to meet with to meet her in her office.

The next day, my phone rang. It was the CEO. She told me that she had fired the guy who had kept me waiting and asked me if I would reconsider my decision to withdraw my candidacy. I told her I couldn't as I had already accepted another job. You see, from their office I went to get something to eat and then had a second interview, where I was not kept waiting, and they made me an offer on the spot.

I had heard of employers keeping candidates waiting to see how they would react. I never understood the rules of that game and cannot explain them. On a few occasions, I was kept waiting, but someone would come out, explain to me that there was a problem, apologize, offer me something to drink, and ask me to be patient. I would always thank them, decline the drink, if I had a time limit I would tell them, then I would patiently wait, usually reading something I had brought with me. Unlike in the previously related story, these people were polite and professional.

Then there are the candidates who arrive late. Usually, that ends a candidacy. There is literally no excuse for being late. If a candidate is late for a job interview, it is safe to assume they'll be late for client and staff meetings. Why bother with them? (That's more of a statement than a question...)

An acquaintance once related to me that a friend of his was having a problem. He owned a Starbucks franchise at a local airport. The position for which he was hiring required the employee to be on the job from 11 PM to 7 AM. Usually, new hires showed up for a few days but then were either constantly late or quit. He had an epiphany. To solve the problem, he interviewed candidates, not at his office in the city during regular business hours, but at 3 AM at the restaurant. If a candidate showed up for the interview, he was confident they would be at work, on time, and not quit. He was correct.

There is an exception to every rule and there is one for having to be on time for a job interview. A candidate of mine lived in Brooklyn. The client was on Long Island. If traffic was good, and it never was, it would take at least an hour and a half to arrive. She left four hours early. After half an hour, being stuck in traffic half that time, she knew she would be late. She called the person with whom she was going to meet. (Never go to an interview without the contact information of the person with whom you are meeting!)

If she had called an hour before the interview, there would not have been an interview. But since it was clear she had left with (usually) more than enough time, the client was happy to tell her to call to reschedule when she returned home. She also told her to get off the highway as soon as possible, as the road was blocked all the way to their offices as that was the site of the severe accident which was causing all the trouble.

She rescheduled. The interview went fine but not great. There was another candidate who was a better match. But that candidate arrived 10 minutes late and did not apologize. They gave the job to my candidate. Draw your own conclusions!

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