A Tale of Two Candidates
“It was the best of [candidates], it was the worst of [candidates].” – Charles Dickens (kinda)
During the past few weeks, I encountered two contrasting situations that really highlighted the value of grace concerning interviews. I find “grace” isn’t a word that’s used too much today, so it’s not readily definable in a lot of people’s minds. I’ll define it here as “courteous goodwill.” For me grace is understanding. It’s giving someone a little leeway when it’s inconvenient for yourself.
Grace doesn’t mean that when problems arise, we let people walk over us and get away with it, but it just acknowledges that to err is human.
In the first situation, a candidate has endured four rounds of interviews. This is an AmLaw Top 5 firm, but even so, four rounds are tedious. The fourth round consisted of four back-to-back meetings, and when this candidate went to log in to the first meeting, no one was there. He waited through the entire scheduled time until the second meeting started, but still, the first partner never made it. It would be entirely within reason for the candidate to be furious. That’s half an hour he could have been billing. Yet instead of being upset and making it known to everyone, this candidate exhibited grace. He didn’t allow the one missed meeting to destroy the rest. He didn’t try to make the other partners commiserate with him and apologize for their colleague. The candidate showed grace when emergencies come up, technological problems happen and didn’t let it impact the other meetings. The firm was extremely apologetic afterward and explained the situation. Anyone missing a meeting, partner, or candidate, is unacceptable, but being in unacceptable situations is exactly when grace is most valuable.
In the second situation, a candidate had a wonderful first round of interviews where he met with a couple of partners in different offices. The firm enjoyed the meetings and invited him back for another round, however, when the candidate heard there would be multiple rounds and that an offer wasn’t going to come straight away, he turned cold and wouldn’t give any availability. He was convinced that a firm should know everything they need to know about him after one interview. Single-round interviews are a bit like a yeti: people claim they’ve seen one, but I never have. No amount of explaining the firm’s hiring structure, that he hadn’t met with the group leader or managing partner could not dissuade him from feeling that one round was all the firm should need. His disregard for the firm’s point of view showcased a lack of grace.
Being flexible in the face of inconvenient aggravations is hard, but a little grace goes a long way.