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Challenging recruitment decisions

I wanted to ask that if as a candidate I either do not have full professional confidence in the person(s) making the decision, felt they let unnecessary personal / subjective factors influence their choice of candidate, or simply feel that they got it wrong, in terms I was the strongest candidate and they took the wrong or a weaker person etc. 
Although this can be a professionally sensitive and often a potentially embarrassing area for discussion, and I also recognise that legally, no one can force an organisation to take them (unless there is evidence of open discrimination which in case would be settled at an employment tribunal):
* Is it professionally and ethically  considered the right or moral thing to do to, to challenge the judgement of an interviewer(s) and ask to take the matter higher up to their superiors to either review their decision or offer me the opportunity of a second interview with a different person(s)? 
* Is it normally the case that once a company have decided that they do not wish to employ you (for whatever reasons), it is usually very difficult to try and get them to reverse that decision or have a change of mind? 
Answers I have received in the past in relation to this are:
 
Hi Andre,

To answer both of your questions:

1. There is no benefit in challenging the judgment of an interviewer and taking your case to their superior. Remember: you are the outsider in an interview situation. Companies will stand behind their employees' decision. And you will appear to be a troublemaker who will make their lives difficult should they hire you. 
2. Once they have decided not to hire you, it is impossible to get them to change their mind. The best you could hope for is that you get a call back, based on someone else not taking the position you applied for. In that case, you would be called back because they saw something they liked. Complaining about the process will not make you someone they like.

It's tough, but you have your take your knocks and move on to the next opportunity, hopefully having learned from each interview. And it's important to always remain courteous, not matter how you feel you have been treated because, as I say, you never know when someone else might turn down a job and it is then offered to the next preferred person in the queue.

Hope this helps. 
What are all thoughts on the matter, bearing in mind that we all have monthly outgoings to cover so if one does not get a job, it always has certain consequences and a knock on effect? 
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  • I think the advice you received previous probably is still very sound.

    I am not sure how you can know you are the better candidate as you didn't sit in on the other interviews. And even if you did you can not be fully cognisant of what they are looking for.

    Its probably a 1 in 100 shot if not more to ask for a higher review.
  • Over the course of my career I have interviewed hundreds (thousands?) of people for many different roles. Like I'm sure you are aware, getting the best fit for a person and a role is not an exact science, and there may be many different factors at play that it would be impossible for any individual candidate to know.

    If you're asking whether experienced interviewers get it wrong, well of course they do - every day. However clear your criteria, objective your assessments and however much you try to control for different influences, an interview and selection day at best gives you a snapshot of what someone is like.

    However, it wouldn't change my position at all if another candidate challenged our appointment decision, after the event. By that point, I would almost always have made a contract with the person who was appointed, and I wouldn't breach that contract because the other candidate had a different view. The best you could hope for would be compensation from a tribunal - and unless there is some discrimination involved, the damages would be very small.

    A better approach, if this is an organisation you really wanted to work for, would be to get feedback and to listen to it. If you can have a conversation with the decision maker, all to the good. Send thanks for their time in seeing you, let them know that you like and respect their organisation, and keep a warm connection that might make them think of you for the next appointment.
  • I agree with Keith - if someone has not interviewed the other people, they would in no way be capable of deciding that the decision to hire the one of the other candidates instead of them was the wrong decision.

    Because this is so obvious, if the unsuccessful candidate then tried to tell me that i had made the wrong decision, i would consider that they had seriously poor judgement and therefore I had made absolutely the right decision in no employing them
  • a) Imagine you are doing the interview. Your professional opinion once you have decided; "This is the person I/we should employ" suddenly changes Why did you change your mind?. "Oh he contacted me later on and I felt that he was better ........" How are you gokng to explain the cost, time & effort to your MD??

    What does that tell the MD - and everyone else about your interviewing technique and ability.?

    How would YOU feel if after having accepted a job offer and later the interviewer in a), phones YOU up and tells you he's changed his mind and you won't be getting the job - someone else will?

    The answer you received to your letter I thoroughly agree with.
  • Completely agree with the advice you have been given, how can an interviewee who has not been selected understand the complex internal needs of the business and the role from an outsiders perspective? What makes them a better judge of this than the interviewer who has been assigned the task of recruitment? Unless the reasons for not being selected were obviously discriminatory what gives you the right to question it?
    Also just because you may have better qualifications or experience then one person does not mean you are automatically right for the role, sometimes it is more about character and fitting in to a team.
  • Hi Andre

    Can I share an experience with you that may or may not resonate?

    We interviewed a candidate. On paper they were fab, first impression - fabber, first 10 mins of the interview - even more fabber. Great skill, clearly competent - all fine, I was getting a bit excited about this one.

    Then, they take out a notepad - fine, I like this to be honest. I then notice 4-5 pages filled with questions, with spaces underneath them - hmm.........

    What came next was THE grilling of a lifetime (and I've led an audit by PWC and KPMG one after the other). Me and the hiring manager were inundated with question after question, some very long, more like philosophical questions. It all got a bit 'oppressive' for want of a better word and quite intense/heavy/deep, especially as we had to wait to continue as they wrote our answers down. We rejected them as we felt it would be like throwing a grenade into a fairly relaxed team. As it happens I did get an email from them suggesting we'd made a mistake, which made us even more certain we'd done the right thing.

    I mention this as I notice you posted a lot of questions recently that I have found so interesting to read on the Community and they have been really thought provoking as they have been quite deep IMO, but if you lean towards that technique in interviews that could be a potential reason. I do like it when a candidate turns the tables but too much and it can be a bit off putting.
  • In reply to Samantha:

    Hi Samantha,

    I believe that a candidate has every right to 'question' an employment decision. However, you are unlikely to get them to 'change their mind.' Rather you may end up being classified as a 'troublemaker' if you ask in the wrong way. I believe it is beneficial to ask the interviewer what was missing or what you could do better in future interviews.

    It is normally very difficult to get a potential employer to change their mind. However, if your post interview question/s to them reveal an area in which they desire expertise that you have but have not made evident, then there is a chance that they may invite you to discuss these points, and put you back into the mix.

    Any thoughts as its all about trying to get into the labour market or if your personality did not fit with theirs on the day?

    Andre.

  • In reply to Andre:

    Oh I do agree asking for feedback or providing a bit more info after the interview can be beneficial, but if you're getting a rejection email its highly likely they have already offered someone else so I'd say the chances of them changing their mind are slim to less than none.

    Obviously it depends on how competent the interviewer is, but for me if someone hasn't made their skills that we desire evident, that are essential to the role and they'd know this having seen the advert/heard what we want/researched our business to know they might have that special something extra that we'd not considered, then it wasn't a very good interview, so the answer would still be no. But I'd certainly feed that back to the candidate, to go into depth a bit more re: their skills.
  • People often say that a job interview is a two way process in terms that the employer is interviewing the candidate and the candidate is interviewing the employer.

    However, here is the catch. The employer ultimately decides, so whilst a candidate is free to decline a job offer extended to them, they cannot force the job if they feel they are right for it but the employer does not.

    Other people decide and maybe think about how many different types of jobs and opportunities you have lost and would have personally and professionally excelled in, but because 'other people decide and choose,' you never got a look in.

    It's not in your direct control as you may perform excellently on the day but someone else has the final word and say.  

  • In reply to Andre:

    But unless you are going to suggest 'work trials' for every single candidate, then although the interview process isn't perfect by any means, its all we've got.

    And if I'm the employer I will decide who will work for me - similarly, as you say, the employee can refuse.

    How else can it possibly be?
    .
  • In reply to David Perry:

    Affirmative action and quotas to help get people into jobs as they have in the US and which also work.

  • In reply to Andre:

    The courts in the USA have pretty much removed quotas and affirmative action is aimed at ensuring that the workforce represents the population in terms of gender and ethnicity. That won't help someone who has the relevant qualification, but not the skill set for a role.

    The other thing to bear in mind, is that the employment only has a fixed amount of role available. Someone may have performed excellently, but someone else may have performed slightly better. I was once involved in interviews, where there were two excellent candidates. Both could easily have been appointed to the job, but we only had one job. One had slightly more experience in a particular element of the role, so we selected that candidate.

    The key thing we have to remember is that as a candidate, we have no idea who else has applied, the skills, knowledge and experience of those people and also how they performed in the interview. Therefore we cannot possibly know that we are the most suitable candidate. If someone could not see this and was trying to argue that the interviewer made the wrong decision, it means that they can only really see situations from their own point of view (They believe that they are the best person for the job and therefore the other person must be wrong if they do not see that). Being unable to see situations from others' point of view is always going to make it difficult for someone to progress and particularly in HR, where you constantly have to see the situation from other people's point of view.
  • In reply to Andre:

    Affirmative action and quotas?? Forgive me if I'm missing something but affirmative action and quotas of what?
  • In reply to Andre:

    Ultimately the applicant decides whether to accept/turn up
  • In reply to Andre:

    I think positive discrimination, and forcing employers to hire people who have been unsuccessful x number of times (or whatever the model would be) are different things.

    If employers are forced to hire people they don't want they will simply exit them. Swiftly.