As recruitment consultants, we often find ourselves dealing with the awkward conversations nobody else wants to have. Acting as a mediator between our clients and candidates at difficult times is all part of our service. The most common scenario we find ourselves in is cancelling an interview with a client on behalf of a candidate. Occasionally, it does happen the other way around, although not anywhere near as often.
Whichever way around it happens, this is obviously extremely frustrating for all concerned. Interview cancellations are, therefore, a situation that as recruiters try to avoid at all costs.
Occasionally, a family emergency, sickness or some other genuine crisis occurs. If it does, either hiring managers or interviewees feel they have no choice but to reschedule a job interview.
Of course, consultants have well-established relationships with both their clients and candidates. Because we can see both sides, it is easy for us to be sympathetic. However, our client and candidate may have not met at this point in their relationship. Therefore, cancelling a job interview may be very difficult to understand and can leave the other party feeling let down.
From the client’s perspective, it is often difficult to trust a candidate who wants to reschedule the interview. From the opposite side, a client cancelling an interview scheduled can be extremely damaging to the reputation of their business. It is, therefore, in a consultant’s best interests to ensure that the meeting happens at the agreed date and time. If not, either the client or candidate can risk burning bridges.
What About a Larger Scale Crisis?
At the time of writing this post, the topic at the forefront of everyone’s minds is the coronavirus or COVID-19. Naturally, our clients’ prime concerns are to cause the least disruption to their businesses while preventing the virus from spreading.
For most, the symptoms of the disease are very mild. But for a small minority is a genuine threat to life, not to mention businesses and the broader economy. That said, it is essential to remember that it is just a temporary crisis. At some point, normality will resume, and business will be as usual. When it does, companies will realise that technology is still advancing. Furthermore, businesses will still have the same skills gaps they need to fill if they are to achieve their goals.
Of course, if anyone involved is actually sick, cancelling the interview is an absolute no brainer. It may also seem like a good idea to cancel interviews to prevent the spread of the virus. Although, we must try to keep the recruitment process moving on behalf of our clients. So how do we do that? Let’s explore the options available.
Options Available to Avoid Cancelling an Interview in Times of Crisis
Attend the Interview
In most businesses we deal with, hiring managers have busy schedules. So once an interview slot is in the diary, it can create a lot of work to rearrange. If your business is in an area where there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus, allowing the interview to go ahead could be an option.
Of course, we would not like to advise either way on this. If it’s an option you are considering, our advice would be to use your best judgement. Here’s a couple of useful links which may help you make your decision:
- The latest Government advice on the coronavirus can be found here.
- The number of known cases of the virus in the UK here.
Conduct the Interview by Phone Call
Interviewing by phone is not an ideal scenario, as there is a lot you can miss during a phone call. Body language, for example, is impossible to gauge over the phone. But to enable business continuity, this could be preferable to cancelling altogether.
If several interviewers are on the panel, it is possible to arrange a conference call. Conference calls are easy enough to arrange, and we would be happy to help facilitate this if necessary.
With the technology available to us, it is just as easy to set up a video conference call. For one on one situations, this is easy to set up on a mobile phone via Skype. For more complex scenarios, it is possible to set up a video conference.
Video interviews are the best possible substitute for a face to face interview. Our preferred video interviewing system is Odro because it is so simple and easy to use:
- Our client provides us with a list of questions
- We send a link to the candidate by email
- The candidate records themselves answering the questions
- Once the interview is complete, we send it by email to the client with their CV attached
The response we have received to Odro has been fantastic! Our candidates love Odro because it allows them to complete interviews at a time that suits them. Being able to complete the conversation in their own time means they don’t need to take time off work.
Clients also love Odro because it’s easy to share from HR to the hiring manager, and each can add notes. Odro, therefore, reduces the need for diary juggling.
Of course, the last four options are not as personal as a face-to-face interview. However, they do allow the interview process to continue with minimal disruption to the schedule. Allowing meetings to take place in some form or other enables candidates to demonstrate their interest in the position. Doing so avoids a situation where we see candidates accepting another job offer from one of your competitors.
Etiquette of Cancelling an Interview
Of course, there are other crises where it could be necessary for a client to cancel an interview. Whatever the situation, our advice to clients would always be to avoid cancellation if at all possible. Where you’ve decided that cancelling an interview is entirely unavoidable, we offer the following advice. This advice applies to both our clients and candidates who have conducted their job search through us:
- Calling or emailing as soon as you are aware there might be a problem to give plenty of notice. Don’t wait until the last minute
- Apologise for the inconvenience
- Explain the situation
- As soon as the circumstances allow, provide us with alternative dates to reschedule
- Follow up with an email confirmation
What to do if you Have an Interview Planned?
If you do have any interviews scheduled, please keep an eye on the latest government information. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to attend in person, we will do everything we can to avoid rescheduling. Please keep us updated and stay safe.
Do you know someone who has an interview in the pipeline and might find this post useful? Please share it with them on social media – they will be sure to thank you for it!