It’s at this point that I should probably sound a klaxon to warn you, the reader, that this post is more of a vent, a rant, than anything else, albeit related to recruitment.
Internal candidates. This isn’t really something I come across in my place of employment, mostly due to the fact we’re a smaller company so most of our hires are external as we continue to build on our successes.
However, it’s a subject I’ve felt compelled to blog about, as a close friend has recently gone through this process with another company, and I’ve been saddened, disappointed and a little angered about the process they had to go through. So much so that I’ve felt it necessary to have a vent and get my views off my chest!
Now most applicants will assume, rightly or wrongly, that internal candidates have an unfair advantage over external applicants. Yes, the internal applicant will know the company, the culture and possibly even the interviewer or panel of interviewers.
However, one thing that internal candidates can’t help avoid is their history with the company. And when a candidate has been with a company as long as 20 years or more, that’s a lot of history to digest.
I can fully imagine how hard it is for an interviewer to treat an internal candidate as an external one, but I think it is essential to try to do so in many respects.
Internal moves can always be hard for an employee to cope with and a good plan is required to ensure the transition is managed as effectively as possible. But what is hard to swallow, is when an internal candidate has a plan in place to manage the transition, which focuses on the letting go of their old role before starting the new role, essential in any leadership role, yet the senior managers cannot see this as an effective route.
My friend lost out at the selection centre. For one simple reason and it sucks, in all honesty. I’m angry and it isn’t even me that has had to face that disappointment. The reason being that they are working in the same department as the current vacancy, and the exiting employee has been gone for 8 weeks roughly. One of the interviewing panel felt that my friend should have taken the role on of his own volition and made it his own in 8 weeks, despite the fact that he is currently doing his own role full-time, and the issues this could have caused if he had. This does not sound like a level playing field to me.
My friend has been told that he gave a stunning performance at the selection centre, that he was head and shoulders above the external applicants and yet he has not been put through to the second round as he did not seize the role before it was his. This role has a lot of direct reports – it has over 4 departments that report into it. For him to “seize the role” and start implementing changes that would affect so many people, whilst running the risk that he may not get the role, and any changes he implemented might be scrapped by the new person, could be hugely detrimental to the teams that would report to him. In less than 3 months, those employees would have lost one leader, undergone the transition of a new leader and lots of change, to then possibly get a third leader in as many months and face more change.
This short-sightedness can cause so many internal issues and for a senior leader to be advocating such behaviour does not bode well. As a recruiter who is passionate about the candidate experience, this has left me aghast.
Now some might say, I have a biased view. He’s a friend, of course I would feel this way. And no, I haven’t met the other candidates. But I’d like to think as a recruiter I can be objective about this. And it’s not the fact he didn’t get the job that has left me reeling, it’s the reason he was given.
My friend will not be leaving. He’s been with the company for decades and has a level of engagement, passion and loyalty, that extends far beyond remuneration, rewards or recognition. He truly loves his job, his company and his colleagues. And I know he will support whoever gets the job, because he’s a genuinely nice guy like that.
But the real kick in the teeth? They loved him. And it has left him wondering if he even should have applied as he was left by one of the interviewers with this view – he never stood a chance.
No employer would expect an external candidate to start a role before they’ve even interviewed for it – that would be insane! Yet, the internal candidate fails because they didn’t do this very thing.
So why the blog post? Well simply to say, try to look at all your candidates with an equal view. Level that playing field where it counts. And it works both way, clearly. But don’t discount what you have in-house because it may be the very thing you need.