We are taught from an early age to say please and thank you, to always think of others, to not interrupt and to wait our turn. Attention to manners and etiquette is seen internationally as a quintessentially British trait, something we can all be proud of.
It seems a shame then, that we don't always apply these useful and admirable skills to our everyday working life. For example, when it comes to the application and interview process, good old fashioned manners all too often sail out of the window! Of course, applicants mostly present themselves well, introduce themselves politely and behave impeccably at interview, but in the process surrounding the interview, both before and after, I often find myself asking "Where are your manners?"
One particular scenario that highlights this crops up all too often in recruitment, the interview cancellation, by an applicant.
It is usual for applicants to apply for more than one vacancy, therefore multiple interviews are commonplace, particularly with skilled candidates. It's only natural that some of these appointments will fall by the wayside, perhaps due to an exciting job offer or a change of heart. The reasons vary, but one thing is constant, there is always someone at the other end, an employer or recruiter, who has taken time out of their schedule, shortlisted, prepared, re-arranged and taken care to conduct that interview.
This is where etiquette and plain simple manners should come into play. It takes no real effort to pen a quick and polite e-mail to inform a potential employer that you are unable to attend interview, better still, to call them up and thank them for the opportunity and explain why you have decided to walk a different path. It seems so obvious, and polite! But what we actually see more and more of is the bane of many recruiters existence, 'the no-show'. That moment, when the clock ticks past the 'reasonably late' into the 'they aren't coming are they?'.
This is the worst case scenario for most interviewers, it messes up schedules, creates frustration and bad feeling, and it will put a black mark against the absent interviewee, closing the door to that business in the future (I already have a policy to not work with any candidate who has not shown up for interview without some prior communication, regardless of how skilled they may be).
It is difficult when looking for a new role not to become utterly focused on your own needs and anxiety, but I try to advise my applicants to always think of the person who's hiring, not the business, but the individual, and to take their needs and anxiety into account when making decisions about applications and interviews.
I'm genuinely not sure why so many people opt to simply not show up for their interviews, particularly those that have been carefully arranged, planned and confirmed. Perhaps they are too nervous, or worried that someone will be angry with them, or try to convince them to attend after all? Whatever the reason, the next time you change your mind about attending an interview, be bold, be brave and remember your manners! Say thank you, apologise for any inconvenience and give the interviewer as much notice as you possibly can.
It's the polite thing to do.
Founder of Sunshine Recruitment Solutions, Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals