The worst reason for not hiring someone?

I think I found it….and it happened to me.

Warning…small rant.

Imagine you are a hiring manager trying to find someone to lead a group of IT professionals.  What are the things that you would look for in a candidate?  For me, it would be someone that has the following profile:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Intelligence
  • Initiative
  • Technical knowledge (not necessarily a techie…someone that understands technology)
  • An understanding of basic business skills and terminology
  • Customer Service skills
  • Good Communication Skills (written and verbal)

Now, imagine you find a candidate that seems to meet all of the above requirements.  You talk to them and enjoy the conversation…so much so that you want to bring them in for a face to face interview.

By chance (or by planning?), you find that your candidate is giving a talk at a local conference so you attend (or send someone).  You (or your proxy) attend and think that the candidate wasn’t very “dynamic” in their presentation.

Based on this, you cancel the interview and tell the recruiter that its because the candidate isn’t a “dynamic speaker”.

One question: WTF?

I’m fine with not being a dynamic speaker….heck…I’d be the first to tell you that I am far from dynamic when speaking…but I do think I’m an engaging speaker.  Perhaps next time I talk, I’ll put on a fake smile, wave my hands and make bold movements around the room.  Is that dynamic enough? 🙂    My presentation at UTD wasn’t my best…I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, but that wouldn’t have changed my presentation style much.

On a positive note, I do prefer to receive feedback on everything I do….it does help….but if you don’t think I’m a dynamic public speaker, have the courtesy to tell me in person rather in the manner in which these people did.

To completely discount a person based on one presentation that you attend (or hear feedback from someone who attended) is ludicrous IMO.  If they make their hiring decisions based on the public speaking abilities of candidates, then they’ll be looking long and hard.  I just hope they require all the other candidates to prepare a paper and then present it at a conference 🙂

I guess this type of judgment would be similar to comparing a company’s ability and skill in implementing Cisco systems to the professionalism and look/feel of their website.   If I were to do that, I’d never hire this particular company as their website appears to have been created in Frontpage 97 and hasn’t been updated since 🙂

BTW – Anyone know of a good Toastmasters group around Dallas (preferably around Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney)?

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Scot Herrick
14 years ago

I once was in an interview where the hiring manager asked me why I left my last position. I said that the company was bought out, my new manager didn’t want me talking to his manager without speaking to my new manager first. That’s understandable except my new manager was 2,0o0 miles away and my manager’s manager was 20-feet from my office. For that, my inside person told me later, I was labeled as a negative person who spoke poorly about management and that person didn’t want a negative person on their team. It was the only possible negative comment… Read more »

Eric D. Brown
14 years ago

Hi Scot – Thanks for the comment.

I’m perfectly happy not working for that organization if they have that type of criteria for hiring. Me and narrow-mindedness don’t get along well 🙂

Jason M. Beauford
Jason M. Beauford
14 years ago

I agree that perhaps the hiring manager made a quick decision. However, because you were a candidate for a leadership position, I do understand the necessity for being dynamic. You say that you are an engaging speaker and I believe you. While you may be able to grasp and maintain the attention of an audience, I think as a leader you need to be versatile. You need to be able to switch gears, think outside the box and make decisions (based on the information you have) quickly. As a leader, you must strive for excellence, work with teams and employees… Read more »

Jason M. Beauford
Jason M. Beauford
14 years ago

My mistake, I do follow your blog. =)

Eric D. Brown
14 years ago

Hi Jason – Thanks for the comment. I do appreciate feedback and will take your feedback into consideration.

Andrew Meyer
14 years ago


I’ll pass on some very good advice someone once gave me.

Ok, it was about dating, and I’ve never really found comfort in it myself, and I’m not talking to the person who gave it to me anymore because they later dumped me, but it is really good advice.

If someone comes up with such a silly and petty reason for walking away, you didn’t really want to be associated with them anyways.

Now, don’t you feel better?

Andy – who by the way is still single…

Eric D. Brown
14 years ago

Thanks Andy….I do feel better 🙂

Gary Drumm
14 years ago

Eric, Great post! I have often thought about the impression that I give to hiring managers. Do I come off too cocky/arrogant? Do I come off looking like I don’t know how to do what they want me to do? Would I be a good fit for this particular company? I’m reminded of one position I interviewed for a couple of years ago. It was for an Infrastructure Project Manager. I politely listened to hiring manager drone on and on and on for an hour and a half. I think I got an opportunity to speak for maybe 5 minutes… Read more »

Eric D. Brown
14 years ago

@Gary Drumm: Great story Gary. I’ve been in situations like that before as well. Another interesting story: I was part of a team trying to hire for a Director of Professional Services role. This role was a line manager (manage people) and engagement manager (manage projects and clients) so the person needed to be personable, intelligent, a good communicator and have good leadership skills. The hiring team consisted of 5 people: 1 Vice President (the hiring manager) and 4 Directors (the peers). We interviewed about 10 candidates and there was one standout. She had all of the skills we thought… Read more »