You May Be Right, But Are You Kind?

What’s up with all the recent LinkedIn rants about interviewees? If the ranters are to be believed, these days people interviewing for jobs aren’t dressed appropriately, they don’t bring copies of their resume, they don’t have the right handshake, and they behave in ways so egregious that recruiters, senior executives, and other interviewers feel the need to hop on LinkedIn and complain about just how BAD these people are.

Yikes.

Instead of getting angry, is it possible to see the interview from the perspective of the person who had to figure out what to wear, how to get there, what to bring, and how to act, likely for a lot of different companies? On top of that, they’re probably nervous, stressed about money, scared about a job change, and vulnerable on pretty much every level.

Of course, the interviewee should do the research and know how your company’s expectations are different from every other company’s, but occasionally real people screw up. That doesn’t mean you have to like them, or apologize for their behavior, or offer them a job. But neither should the interview be a tricky process that candidates must navigate with fear and trepidation. You’re looking for things like skills, cultural fit, and capabilities, and if you’re interviewing correctly you aren’t trying to find people who are perfect, but rather for people who can grow into the role and perform better over time.

The truth is, one of the hardest traits to train or develop is good old-fashioned kindness, and it’s one that matters more than almost anything else. Kind people can collaborate, they get their own work done and don’t take credit for the work of others, they exhibit organizational citizenship behaviors (just a fancy way of saying they go above and beyond to benefit the company), and they’re more enjoyable to work with. No matter where the interviewee went wrong, is there ever an excuse to treat them unkindly, even behind the veil of LinkedIn anonymity?

The interview process can be draining, demoralizing, and scary for job hunters. Why not assume that interviewees are doing the best they can, gently and directly correct them when they miss the mark, and strive to bring more professionalism and kindness to your own work?

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom. – Theodore Isaac Rubin

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