Interview experts at The Bagg Group warn that second-hand rudeness can scare off great candidates


Picture this: An IT manager and his boss are interviewing a promising candidate.  As the manager provides some background on the IT department, his boss rolls her eyes and says, “For heaven’s sake, get to the point, nobody has all day to listen to this.”   

And with just that one sentence, a good candidate may be ready to speed out the door.   

Some might grumble that the candidate is too easily scared away.  But not so.  According to studies, research on the effects of rudeness in the workplace shows that it negatively affects those who observe it as much as those who are a target of it.  

Second-hand rudeness is not unlike second-hand smoke, it can harm everyone in the room.  And candidates interviewing for full-time positions, contract work or even temporary placements seek out healthier environments.

A few years ago, management professors at University of Florida carried out an extensive study on rudeness.  They found when employees just observed a boss browbeating a subordinate, their level of performance decreased.  The study concluded: “Simply observing discourteous behavior can erode the ability of fellow employees to think creatively, solve problems and act as team players.” 

At The Bagg Group, we have 40 years of helping clients at the best companies across the GTA interview the top talent that we refer to them.   When our clients set up interview panels, we offer these suggestions. 

Have a game plan:  Before the interview, all those in the room should be clear about who will ask which questions, and who is tasked to give what information.  Everyone should be aware of the length of time allotted for the interview. 

The reality is you may be unable to quell the rudeness of an abrasive boss or colleague.  But with a game plan, they will know what to expect and can decide when to come and go during the interview if they are impatient to be doing other things.  

Give interviewees a heads up:  Candidates want to prepare for interviews.  It is helpful to alert them ahead of time if they’ll be meeting with a number of people, and to give them the names and roles of each person.  Like any business meeting, people want to know who will be at the table before they walk through the door.  

Role model:  At The Bagg Group, we hold a long track record for great placements.  That’s because we never forget that a good fit isn’t just about getting someone with the right skills.   

The person also needs the right disposition for the relationship to be successful.  The way the members of your panel interact gives the candidate a sense of how people work with each other at your organization, and whether your company’s inter-personal dynamics are right for them.

While the Donald Trump blunt style of leadership may result in good ratings for The Apprentice, it wouldn’t do much for attracting and retaining great talent in the GTA.  

Browbeating just doesn’t help with the bottom line.  As management professor Amir Erez who co-authored the study simply says, “ Being nice to people has a lot of advantages.”

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