Displaying common courtesy, having good manners, being polite, and treating others as you would like to be treated, are all ways of saying we should be nice to our fellow human beings.  Saying please and thank you goes a long way, as does holding doors open for others.  Courtesy can also mean greeting others warmly and genuinely, being respectful of others’ time and opinions, even when they disagree with you.

The need for common courtesy is also a critical part of the hiring process.  It’s important that we all stop to think through our actions or inactions, as well as our words and tone.  This isn’t one sided – it applies to applicants, recruiters, and hiring managers.

Here are some reminders of common courtesy as they apply specifically to the hiring process.

Be engaged and focused

Candidates:  Limit distractions, especially background noise for phone calls.  Mute or turn off your cell phone during interviews.  Listen without interrupting.  Make eye contact and practice good posture.  Ask relevant questions.

Hiring managers and recruiters:  Block your calendar and minimize incoming messages – emails, instant messages and calls, including muting or turning off your cell phone.  Actively listen and provide the candidate your full and undivided attention.  Clear your desk.  Show your interest through engaging body language.

Communicate respectfully and professionally

Candidates:  Take time to gather your thoughts.  Speak clearly.  Lead with positives, setting aside any displeasure with current and former employers.  Write a thank you note after the interview, using proper grammar.  Answer the phone in a positive tone, stating your name.  Have an available voice mail box with professional greeting.

Hiring managers and recruiters:  Rephrase or explain questions if asked without a judgmental tone or comment.  Speak clearly, and use professional grammar.  Avoid using company-specific acronyms or jargon of which a candidate may not have knowledge.

Value the other person

Candidates:  Respect the interviewer’s position, knowledge, tenure, experience and role.  Determine what you can learn from the interviewer if you are chosen for the job.

Hiring managers and recruiters:  Open-mindedly give candidates an opportunity to show you what they bring to the table, even if it is not the exact education or experience you envisioned.  Identify what you can learn from the candidate.  Allow a mistake to be rectified and accept apologies.  Give feedback that helps the candidate progress and grow.

Respect the other person’s time

Candidates:  Be available for scheduled appointments.  Provide advanced notice for any rescheduling needs.  Watch and listen for clues that the interview has reached its end.

Hiring managers and recruiters:  Start and end interviews on time.  Allow adequate time for a candidate to arrange to attend an interview, complete an assessment, and respond to an offer.  Set expectations of the process, next steps and timeline.

Do what you say you will do when you said you would do it

Candidates:  Respond within a day to information requests.  Explain any delays, preferably before making a commitment.  Complete all actions promptly.  Show up and be on time to interviews or the first day on the job.  Apologize if something is missed.

Hiring managers and recruiters:  Send out documents when requested.  Provide timely feedback.  Apologize if you make a mistake, miss taking an action, or misspeak.

What other ideas do you have for bringing common courtesy back into the hiring process?

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