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Submitted by stumax on


We're looking for an entry-level person, and today we interviewed a fantastic candidate, the first of two that we had selected to meet with in-person from about 50 resumes and three phone interviews. He's articulate, poised, brings a range of skills to the table, has a great sense of humor, and his technical abilities and experience are exactly what we were hoping for. The three of us in the interview walked out enthusiastically agreeing that he'd be a great fit, and we should make an offer right away.

Here's the problem: Our HR manager says we need to go through with the interview we've scheduled for 3 days from now, regardless of how we feel about this person. My impulse, on the other hand, is to make an offer to today's candidate and cancel the upcoming interview if he accepts before then.

So, what do you think? Am I being too impatient? Is it rude or unethical to shortchange the person with whom we've scheduled the interview next week? I certainly understand that we might end up seeing something that we like in this other person, but they'd have to be pretty stellar to make us change our minds at this point.

Today's candidate isn't currently interviewing elsewhere, so I don't think we're in danger of losing him to another company if we wait a few days. I guess I'm just having a hard time believing that we should have to wait on making this decision. If this were a more competitive market for employers, we certainly wouldn't hold off contacting this guy... would we?

karaikudy's picture
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I would fully go through the interview process, who knows there may be better candidates out there. You never know. Remember, this candidate may for some reason, may not join. I guess, [b]Horstman's first law of interviewing is also applicable to candidates with offer. "Till you get someone, you have got no one".[/b] More so in this part of the world.

Read this.



jhack's picture

Great candidates are in demand. I would offer right now, don't delay. They could get an offer from someone else - why take the risk? What do you gain by waiting? That maybe superman will interview, and want the job?

When you find a great candidate, make the offer as fast as you can.


RichRuh's picture
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I'm going to disagree here.

What are the disadvantages of interviewing #2? You said yourself "I don't think we're in danger of losing him to another company."

What are the advantages of interviewing #2? It seems unlikely that #2 will be better, but he or she could be just as good. Which means #2 could be an alternate choice if #1 doesn't work out, or a choice for a different position later.


wendii's picture
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I have had this happen to me as a candidate for a well respected consulting firm. I'm not sure I respect them as much as I did. From candidate #2's perspective cancelling at the last minute is obvious, insulting, makes their preparation a waste, and potentially causes them to bad mouth you in the market place - and the next person they talk to might be your next perfect candidate. Rich's points about their potential are also good. It's an hour of your life. Interview them.

That said, if you're really convinced about #1 there are ways to keep him warm: if he came from an agency call them and let them know you feel very positive about him, but that you need to interview all the candidates before making a decision, and let them know when that will be. If you have direct contact, call him and let him know you were very impressed with his skills and you just want to let him know when you'll be able to make a decision. You could use a pretext like blaming HR or following up on some admin if you need to.

Hope that helps,


jhack's picture

Make the offer, but don't shut down your recruiting.

Interview #2 can go forward even if you move forward with an offer to #1. If the lag is only three days, it's unlikely you'll get an acceptance in that time, and there's nothing unethical about continuing the search until you have an accepted offer - as long as you are honest about where you are in the process.

Moreover, recruiting should be a constant process (see the podcast "set the bar high" april 23, 2007). It's not clear what position you're trying to fill, but many companies are always on the lookout for talent even when they don't have openings.


tcomeau's picture
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[quote="stumax"]...Our HR manager says we need to go through with the interview we've scheduled for 3 days from now, regardless of how we feel about this person. [/quote]

I suggest you push back to the HR manager and ask why.

We're required to compile a short list, which is reviewed by HR, and then interview everybody on the short list before making a decision. There's a lovely little form (two pages) that we fill out for each interviewee as well, and if our short list is all middle-aged white guys, we have to explain why.

We have to do this because we have a consent agreement (a bit less scary than a Consent Decree) with the US Department of Labor, as a remedy to possible discriminatory practices. We, of course, do not agree that we ever had discriminatory practices, though we acknowledge a disparate impact on certain groups.

If there aren't those kind of reasons, I would still be inclined to interview candidate two, and I would also contact candidate one to indicate how impressed you were, and that you need to finish up your internal processes before you can make an offer. Ideally, that contact would be prompted by candidate one's thank you note. :)


TomW's picture
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I think you're short-changing yourself if you do not interview all the candidates you have. There could be an even better one coming.

Mark's picture
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Lots of comments here that are narrowly constructed. Clearly, we need to get out our How To Be An Interviewer and How To Recruit series casts.

I think it's better in the majority of situations to allow the second interview to go through. Keep #1 warm - most companies and managers STINK at this - our rule is no more than 3 days between contacts.

Conduct the second interview, while preparing now to offer #1 the moment you finish with #2. If #2 knocks it out of the park, you've lost little...because the issue now is time.

Wait with warming.


stumax's picture
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Awesome discussion, everyone. This was really helpful.

We did go ahead with the second interview as scheduled. She was also a good candidate, but she didn't change our minds on the first guy, who we did end up hiring. That said, I now see the wisdom of keeping that second appointment. And, I think if I had understood the concept of keeping the first candidate warm, I wouldn't have been so anxious about waiting for few days.