Last week, my colleague has forwarded me an article from SourceCon website about pros and cons of prepping candidates for the interview with the hiring manager. The next day I saw a discussion thread in a recruitment group on Facebook debating the same issue. The opinions are, of course, all over the place – from “if a candidate does not know what to wear, they are not a fit for the job” to “you need to write a script for the candidate before HM interview”. I think that the truth is, as usual, somewhere in the middle.
Some coaching will not hurt the candidate. Recruiters should give their candidates all the information they have on the prospective employer, especially something that is not mentioned on Wikipedia or on the company website. Some insight into career path of the Hiring Manager may help the candidate build rapport during the interview. Going over possible interview questions. Information on proper attire could prove useful too. Some companies have very strict dress code, some are more relaxed, in some a candidate would stand out if he or she is wearing anything other than business casual. Overall, talking about the process, the expectations, the company, can help the candidate feel more relaxed before the conversation with the hiring manager. This way the candidate can focus on building the relationship with the interviewer and answering the questions fully during the interview.
However, some things can not be altered. Sure, a talkative candidate can be coached to give short answers during the hiring manager interview, but what is going to happen if this candidate gets an offer and starts working? Once the candidate is the new employee and feels comfortable in the workplace, he or she will revert to his/her natural state and start talking all the time. Or maybe there is a candidate interviewing for a project management role who has been coached to give all the right answers, but in reality he is disorganized and is simply unable to do the job. A personality can not be changed (well, maybe, with the help of a therapist – but it would take years). I think coaching a candidate to project a personality he/she is not is a disservice to both the candidate and the Hiring Manager. I always tell the candidates I work with that the fit has to be not only in terms of skillset, but also in terms of personalities. After all, when everyone on the team is comfortable with each other, it is so much easier to reach the goals!