Can I Ask for a Drink in my Interview?
We see and hear questions like this all the time. It sounds like a simple question, “Can I ask for a drink in my Interview?”, but it shines a light on a real problem with Interviewing. Candidates (The Talent) are so scared going into an interview, that they literally don’t know if it’s okay for them to ask for the most basic human need on Earth. And if your prospective new employee is nervous to ask for a drink, do you really think you are going to get the best out of them? It’s up to you, the hiring manager, to set the proper stage, so that a real, human, information exchange can occur in the next hour. This simple question is important example of the critical dynamic between interviewer and interviewee. First, absolutely, if you are thirsty and it’s going to affect your interview performance, by all means ask for a drink. If you have to use the restroom, by all means ask. Don’t give either a second thought.
Flipping this around though, with company, hiring manager, and interviewer education in mind, if your candidate is arriving for their interview and they feel like anything less than the proverbial “red carpet” has been laid out for their arrival, you will never get a chance to see their true selves. Further, they will go home and list that “lack of a proper welcome” at the top of the Cons chart in their post-inteview analysis. If the interviewing company would, for even a half second, consider not making them feel at home by heartily offering the candidate a water “can I get you a water, a soda, coffee…are you sure…it’s no trouble at all, I’m going to grab myself one real quick before we get started”, a well educated candidate is going to realize that that’s just the beginning of non-humanizing things to come from their new employer in the coming weeks and years. We at AllSearch take it a step further (and there is always a method behind the madness)…not only will we insist on grabbing the candidate a water (even if they said no), but we’ll also reach into the mugs of mini candy bars on the middle of the table, and put a few in front of them, as the interviewer pops one in their mouth. There are many tangents we could follow here, but let’s pick two, from varying perspectives:
- When interviewing and hiring, I’m not interested in feeling superior, holding all the cards, working a power trip…instead, it’s imperative that I know the REAL YOU by the end of what is never enough time. Something as simple as the exchange of glass of water and a little piece of chocolate do wonders to remind everyone in the room that we are both humans, we aren’t curing cancer here today, and that let’s take a breath, relax, and have as close to a peer to peer conversation as possible. When you can set the interview table in such a manner, it’s amazing how much more productive the meeting was for both parties. The company/client/interviewer will land more talent and have a better sense as to which folks to avoid…and the candidate/inteviewee will have had the opportunity to actually show & tell themselves, rather than getting back into their car upset at themselves for yet again letting their nerves get the best of them.
- As the interviewee/candidate, don’t diminish the CON that should be listed with an asterisk on your post interview analysis, if you feel in any way that the inteviewer or company was trying to make you feel inferior (or worse, sit on their high-horse). I promise you that it IS a sign of things to come. And when I say “things”, I mean, a really lame work environment and culture. This old school mentality was the norm 20 years ago, and sadly many companies still have a “well if they don’t beg me for the job, they ain’t gettin it” attitude. What you will find in those companies a few months down the road, is that their systems, processes, customer base, ideas, and future are as narrow, dim, and shortsighted as were their interviewing processes (or lack thereof).
This is a new world, one where for many years to come, the candidate is the Talent, and the Talent is in great demand. That doesn’t mean companies, hiring manager, and interviewers will hire anyone, quite the contrary, we are more picky than ever, as we are painfully aware of the ramifications of hiring the wrong candidate for any reason. In summary though, to be sure, if you’ve created an interviewing environment that left the candidate feeling anything other than welcomed and thanked, returning to their car with a deep exhale and a “wow, that was fun”…you probably didn’t leave yourself a chance in heck of actually landing the best Talent.
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Brian Connors, Managing Director, AllSearch Professional Staffing, Inc.