Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

I Think, Therefore I Blog

Double Duty for Hiring Managers


My wife has been in China for a week and I’ve been playing the role of Mom AND Dad for our girls.  Stereotypes aside, I’ll just say I’m having to be the good cop and bad cop.  Sweet and sour.  There are many who do this full-time and I admire them.

This situation reminds me that hiring managers have to remember to pull double-duty during the interview process.  A hiring manager should be critical during the interview and ask pertinent, direct questions.  At the same time, the manager needs to realize the (best) candidates are also interviewing them.  Managers must present themselves in a professional manner, but should also let their true personality show.  Being a real person during the interview gives the candidate a chance to evaluate how well they could work with that manager.  Being open to questions about management style, work environment, and expectations is a good start.

A relevant example comes from a friend of mine who was interviewing recently.  She interviewed with a manager who asked all types of off-the-wall questions and pushed hard for more if he thought she was giving “pat answers.”  Later in the interview, he explained why he asked certain questions and gave feedback on her answers.  He went on to say how he is easy to work for, but nonetheless, my friend had a hard time picturing a good working relationship.  Most likely, she was not the right fit for the job.  The right person for the role might have been someone who enjoys frequent debates or a fever pitch work environment.

As a part of being the “good cop” in the process, it is also important to convey the benefits of working for the company.  Even in an economy where there are many candidates available for every posting, managers still have to present their job as a great opportunity.  After all, the best candidates for the job may have other options.  More information on communication strategy for enticing the candidate to work for your company is available in a previous post:  Have You Wooed Lately?

Acting as Mom and Dad boils down to simply being a good parent.  And acting as an interviewer and interviewee during this process is a part of being a good manager.

Got more advice on how to be a good interviewer? Leave a comment below.


October 14, 2009 - Posted by | Candidate Selection, Management 101


  1. Excellent post, Jeff (my first time at your blog – adding it to my reader). Hiring managers (especially at high-tech, big brand companies) often forget they are also ambassadors of the company. I have had to coach managers who viewed the interview process as an exercise in ego-inflation. Sometimes it’s funny to sit in as an observer and watch an interviewer fumble over the easy things, like “Hello. How are you? Would you like a glass of water?”. Thanks for covering this topic that is often overlooked.

    Comment by Carmen Hudson | October 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great and timely points! In our current job market, sometimes Hiring Managers don’t think as much about the impression they leave on a candidate, thinking there’s plenty more to choose from.

    However, the best candidates always have options, even in a tough market. The picture that you paint and the reputation you build will either attract or repel the best people.

    I JUST had an example come up today where a candidate canceled an interview with one of my clients because of “insider scoop” they got from someone else that had a bad experience.

    Don’t take the rich candidate pool for granted! Each meeting and conversation counts toward attracting the talent you want.

    Great contribution, as always, Jeff!

    Comment by Harry Urschel | October 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. YES! During interview prep sessions, I encourage job seekers to arrive at the interview equipped with meaningful questions to ask the employer to help ferret out ‘fit’ (and also show interest in the hiring manager’s specific goals and leadership style). Many hiring managers welcome this line of questioning; however, as you pointed out, not all managers allow ‘room’ for the reciprocation.

    The idea of a hiring manager being real and letting their personality show is an attractive one, building rapport with the right-fit candidates from the outset.

    The illustration of a hiring manager pulling ‘double-duty’is vivid – another good post, Jeff!


    Comment by careertrend | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great thoughts here Jeff! I agree.

    Even in this current job market, hiring managers should strive to authentically position the culture + opportunity to talented candidates. Employer Branding is a key piece in this equation. Create high-impact corporate messaging = Attraction > Engagement > *eventually* Retention.

    Comment by Meghan M. Biro | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Yep! I counsel my Hiring Managers on this all the time. Too many will forget that if you’re truly interviewing A-players (and as strong recruiters we’re getting them nothing but, right?), then you need to convince them that we are a fit for THEM as well. Interviews should be panels and consist of only A-players and Mgt. They should go around the room (even if this is not solicited by the candidate) and tell the candidate why they choose to continue their careers at your company. If during the interview the panel starts to feel there is a very strong match, they need to stop “interviewing” and start providing the Employment Value Proposition.

    And yes, this applies even in a very weak employment market…A-players are even more difficult to bring on board in times like these.

    Comment by Bill McCabe | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. Companies that require interview training have a leg up. I worked for a company that didn’t have it and saw “puffy feathers” on hiring managers and questions to make your eyeballs fall out. Once I conducted the implemented mandatory training the candidate experience (and mine) improved dramatically…

    Comment by Karla Porter | October 17, 2009 | Reply

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