You are an executive for a Medical Center or health system with an excellent reputation in your state, your region, and even nationally in some areas of your operations. You have an opening for a critically important executive on your senior leadership team, and you have retained and A-list executive search consultant to conduct a national search. The consultant just presented an excellent candidate slate, and you are feeling really good. The rest is easy…… Right?...... Maybe not…..
In my 25 years as a healthcare executive search consultant, with the opportunity to serve hundreds of client organizations across the country, I have witnessed some surprising and disappointing “events” when candidates travel to meet on-site with the client. The following examples are all true stories. Do you agree that they scream “We are just not that into you!” to an executive candidate?
#1 The hiring executive (often the CEO) is late for the interview, cuts the interview short, or cancels the interview completely.
#2 The interview agenda changes dramatically the day of the interview; people are late and unprepared when they eventually meet with the candidate.
#3 There is an interview over a meal where the candidate is “drilled” with questions and never is given time to eat.
#4 There is not an ounce of hospitality extended during the visit. No one hosts the candidate, tours them, or offers breaks or refreshments.
#5 The last interview of the day ends, and the candidate is free to leave; no wrap-up or closing meeting with the hiring executive or the HR executive.
Do any of these sound familiar? You may be saying that certainly this would never happen in your organization, and if so, congratulations! Or you may be saying that it is the candidate looking for the job and they need to be able to “go with the flow” during the interview process; if that is the case, I disagree, and suggest that hospitality and common courtesy should drive your interactions with an executive candidate who has traveled to meet with you.
It bears repeating that the onsite interview experience is a two- way street. The A-list candidates are evaluating your organization, while you are evaluating their potential fit. The professionalism and courtesies that you extend throughout your direct interactions with a candidate are a critical factor in assuring that the executive remains engaged in a process that can often stretch out over several months. Even if you have decided that the candidate is not the right fit for your organization or the position, the impression that you leave them with should matter to you.