On the business page of USA Today there was one of those mini polls that asked how long folks took to make up their mind after interviewing a job candidate. I chuckled because I thought “Do people really wait until after the interview to decide?” There was probably a time in my career where I believed that each person deserved a thoughtful process and that quick decisions were somehow unfair. But being a busy manager I learned to trust my instincts and let myself quickly make up my mind – often as I watched the candidate walk from their car to the office door. Yes, no, or maybe.
Yes’s still had a chance to become No’s or Maybe’s. Yes usually meant they passed the gut feeling test on appearance, demeanor, trustworthiness, or potential. Maybe means they haven’t hit any No qualities yet, but had not passed the test on other points. No, means No. Rarely have I let a candidate pull me back from an initial No opinion. And when it did happen, I was wrong half or more of the time. I think my decision-making skills dramatically improved when I stuck to my impressions. Not all candidates are transparent enough to draw a fast decision. Sometimes I needed the point of view of a second quick-decider. If the two of us were Maybe, then the candidate was probably a ‘no’. Skills also come into play, but only after the Yes kicks in. What skill could possibly make me hire a No?
As a manager, I may have seemed arbitrary – but I certainly tried to hide it and always let folks complete the interview. I would also give the candidate feedback if they asked for it. “I saw you toss a cigarette into the bushes; that does not make a good impression.” or “You are interviewing for a Sales job and you didn’t even look at our website.” And I am well-known for giving career advice to folks who ask and will listen. Many of these candidates still keep in touch with me.
For folks who are interviewing, take note. If you get along with a lot of people or a majority of the people you meet, then you have a good chance to avoid the No. Interviews are personal and rejection is also, but the longer you can avoid the No, the better chance you have to make it past the first interview and meet someone who is a Yes. I believe that a majority of folks are Yes’s to someone (doesn’t their Mother love them?), it may take a few rounds to find someone who is looking for your kind of Yes or can overlook the things that might make me say No.