If You Care About Diversity, Recruit for People, Not for Your Company
Here’s the difference:
A couple of days ago I got a notification from my application tracking system (ATS) at work. A candidate I previously interviewed had a new interview scorecard in; this was one of my favorite candidates. He was a Black mobile engineer, a new grad, and a candidate with a crazy amount of potential. He was passionate about what he does, eager to learn, and loved our company and mission. He would add something special to our culture.
Hiring should be all about bringing on people that add to your company’s culture, not those that just fit into the one that’s already there. Weird example: Think adding a new killer accessory to your wardrobe, not just buying the same scarf you already have. Not to mention, people can be WAY more exciting than scarves. But, I digress, we’ll talk about culture add in the next KeepingHRHuman post.
Hiring should be all about bringing on people that add to your company’s culture, not those that just fit into the one that’s already there.
Back to exciting people, I clicked into this candidate’s profile. I scrolled to the new interview feedback with fingers crossed; this was his last interview in the process before the offer stage. My fingers loosened — there was a red X next to the feedback. He didn’t pass the interview. We wouldn’t be moving forward to offer. I read the feedback, looking for any misunderstandings or any easily corrected information. There was nothing to refute; it was a fair evaluation. Dammit.
Rejecting is my least favorite part of recruiting. I hate when I’m rooting for a candidate and it doesn’t work out. But, with this scenario, I reminded myself that I’m not just a recruiter for my company. If I’m your recruiter and I’m invested in you as a candidate with potential, I’m ALWAYS going to be your recruiter, even if you don’t get the job. While I try to find great people for the teams I hiring for, I’m also looking for great people in general. And when I find them, even if they don’t work out, I don’t just let them go.
If I’m your recruiter and I’m invested in you as a candidate with potential, I’m ALWAYS going to be your recruiter, even if you don’t get the job.
A couple of days after seeing the feedback and confirming with the hiring manager, I set aside 15 minutes to get on the phone with the candidate. He put in hours of prep and interviewing to get to this point, and I don’t believe in rejecting candidates over email in the final stages (crazy, I know… I’m looking at you, recruiters who ghost candidates). Again, not my favorite part of the job, but a necessary one.
After a few rings, I heard, “Hey, this is Tim*,” in a hopeful tone. Here’s how the rest of the call went:
V: Hey Tim, this is Vanessa calling. Is now still a good time to talk?
T: Hey Vanessa, yes, thanks for taking the time to call.
V: Of course, this call shouldn’t take too long. I just wanted to call and give you an update after your last interview and to hear how the interview went. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to hear any reflections or feedback you have on the process as a whole and your last conversation with the hiring manager.
I ask every candidate for feedback, whether the news I have for them is good or bad. I’m always trying to improve the process, and I’m curious about perception. Do they feel the interview went well? What would they do differently? What can the interviewers or I do differently? He gave me some positive feedback on the process and was neutral on the feedback about his performance in the last interview. Now for the hard part:
V: Awesome, thank you for that information. It’s always helpful to learn how we can improve going forward. All that said, I circled back with the team and I have an update. Unfortunately, given the feedback from the interview, we will not be moving forward in the process.
I paused briefly. Silence on his side.
V: More specifically, there were some issues with (anonymizing exact feedback)… and the interviews weren’t as strong as what we’ve seen with other candidates. But, I want to emphasize that everyone enjoyed meeting with you and I absolutely believe another company would be lucky to have you as a mobile engineer.
I said it, and I meant it. Then, I asked if he had any questions for me. He talked about how he had been emotionally exhausted by doing back to back interviews with different companies and understood our decision. He thanked me for the feedback and probably thought it’d be the end of the conversation––it wasn’t.
V: Thanks for that additional context. I want you to know that even though we aren’t moving forward at this time, I would love to see you apply in a year if you’re still interested. I think a bit of industry experience would do wonders towards making you a stronger candidate. We’re connected on LinkedIn. Please reach out if you ever have any questions or need help with anything.
He said thank you and mentioned how much he loves our product and would explore the opportunity to interview again in the future. Then, I took it a step further:
V: I’m serious. I know you have other on-sites coming up. Learn from this process, make sure you’re in the right headspace for those interviews. It’s okay to reschedule to give yourself more room to breathe in-between interviews. I hope you get offers elsewhere.
If you do, feel free to reach out if you have any questions and would like a second opinion. I’d be happy to help you in this critical first step of your career. Even though you aren’t interviewing with us anymore, I want to help you land somewhere great.
He was speechless for a moment and then thanked me profusely before we chatted a bit more about his upcoming interviews. After a ten minute call, I hung up and got back to work.
I don’t go the extra mile like this for every candidate. I wish I could, but I have to budget my time just like everyone else. That said, for those candidates that are so close to being successful, the ones that just need to improve in a couple of areas with some coaching, even a little of my time can make a massive difference. More importantly, for candidates who are working on getting their career started in tech, perhaps without generational knowledge or family support to back them up (I’m all about first-generation representation), I especially want to be there for these candidates.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Tim can’t be successful in the future without my help or intervention; however, I want to make sure he knows I’m here cheering him on. Tim may no longer be an active candidate at my company, but I’m still his recruiter; I recruit for people.
Moral of the story: If you care about increasing diversity in tech for today as well as future generations, this is the right thing to do, even if the candidate never interviews with your company again. Concerning resources or time on your side, offering this kind of support doesn’t mean you need to drop your day job/responsibilities to help candidates out; I took 10 minutes on the phone to do this. And for any follow-up questions the candidate has down the line, information that you and I know off the top of our heads as recruiters may be just the insight these candidates need for future success.
If you care about increasing diversity in tech for today as well as future generations, this is the right thing to do, even if the candidate never interviews with your company again.
Bringing more diversity into tech means not only hiring for your company but helping to hire for the industry. If you have a candidate that doesn’t make it through your process, but you’d genuinely like to see them enter the industry and succeed, then recruit for people, not just for your company.
I’d love to hear how it goes. Feel free to tweet us @keepinghrhuman
Tim’s name isn’t actually Tim, and some parts of this story are changed to protect his identity. The point remains the same.