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Beware of Sloppy Seconds During the Interview Process

June 5, 2012
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From start to finish, it's all a test!

I've been working on a difficult search for the past month or so, trying to help a prominent hospital facility fill a critical project management leadership role for their brand new Epic implementation project.  This particular position has several experience and certification requirements that are tough to find, and so the healthcare IT professionals who possess them are in high demand.  Therefore I was very excited when I located one such professional who not only filled the bill, but he lived in the area of the project and therefore cut out the relocation or commuting costs for the client.  Sweet!  But sweet can quickly turn sour. . .

On the phone the candidate was articulate, intelligent, and thoughtful - so far so good.  His resume was professionally-written - nice.  His credentials were impressive and his background varied and interesting - great!  At this point, he is looking very strong and things are progressing well, and I'm starting to feel very positive about the fit.  Until I receive this email:

"Gwen,

Thanks for wetting me know about this position - my initial interveiw went well.

XXX"

Argh... the perfect candidate can't spell and doesn't use a spell checker.  On top of that, he was obviously in a hurry and didn't catch his "wetting" problem.  At first glance this may seem incidental - he was rushed and took a few (sloppy) seconds to shoot me a courtesy email.  The thing is, though, that if his correspondence to me contained careless errors, it was not a good sign for a candidate who, if he landed the role, was expected to be maniacal when it came to attention to detail.  Shortly after the initial email I received a revised version with the note, "Sorry, I'm trying to do fifty things at once."  (Great, so now I'm questioning his multi-tasking abilities!)

One of my first blog posts for HCI was called, "Never, Ever, Blow Your Cover," which stressed the importance of 100% error-free cover letters, since they are often the first impression given.  Equally important, however, is the quality of the followup.  Every call, every document, and in this case, every email will be scrutinized - it's all a test!   Business email correspondence has a tendency to be a bit more casual than what is expected in a business letter, and that's fine.  But if you're in the midst of an interview process - slow down and pay attention to each and every word you compose, even if (especially if) it's just a brief courtesy email - it all counts, and you don't want it counting against you.

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