"We have other candidates to interview first..."

Man oh man did I unwittingly stumble upon a whole subsection of whinging angst in the job seeking community today.

I was reading through some career and job seeking forums when I noticed a pattern. A trend of recurring frustration directly squarely at hiring managers.

"We have a few other candidates to interview first"

People seem to be losing their shit over this statement.

Some answers suggested it meant you had bombed the interview and the hiring manager was trying to avoid giving you a direct answer.

Others suggested it was an evil-genius level ploy of psychology-slash-game-theory to make you feel like shit so they can have more bargaining power with you later on.

The one common point underlying all this whacky theories was that it was all the hiring managers fault, why could they be so inconsiderate, and how dare they ruin your day like this.

Poor fellas.

Now let me break down what is actually going on here.

I'm a hiring manager AND I've used this exact line before so I'm not just speaking out my arse with a theory. This is how my mind - the mind of someone who does this for a living - actually works.

So what am I thinking when I say "We have other interviews"?

First, and most likely, is that I might actually just have other people to interview.

That is my job after all and I would be pretty bad at it if I only found one person to interview for each role I was hiring for.

By telling you about the other interviews I am trying to help ensure your expectations are appropriately managed. We might have had a fantastic interview, really hit it off, and even though I liked you I still want to give the other candidates a fair go too.

And on the chance, however slight, that the next candidate is even better than you I figure it would be a shitty surprise for you to leave the interview thinking you nailed it (because you did), not hear from us for a few days while we conduct other interviews, and then find out you missed out.

That's a shitty experience and as a hiring manager a big part of my role is make sure all candidates have a good experience.

So I balance expectations. That's what a good recruiter does.

Now as far as using this line as some kind of advanced maneuvering for negotiation…well if you even suspect you are being treated like this in an interview then you should run as fast as you can in the other direction.

If someone is willing to play weird games or try to one-up you during an interview process that is very bad sign of the crap behaviour you can expect from them if you worked there. Don't accept this rubbish.

On to the final big gripe: using the 'other interviews' as an excuse to not giving you a direct answer.

Sadly there is some truth in this, but it is not as evil as you think.

Unless you horribly bombed - I'm talking absolutely dropped the ball, not a chance in hell you would ever get the job even if you were the last person on earth (I couldn't think of any more cliches to jam in to that one sentence) - rarely will you get a direct answer right there in the interview.

Why? So so so many different reasons…but they all boil down to the interviewer(s) needing time to think and talk it over.

As a hiring manager I have a good instinct on reading people most of the time but I still like to take just a little bit of extra time after an interview to process, think, and talk it over.

This is how I feel confident making good hires.

Using the 'other interviews' can be an easy way out from someone if they never intend to hire you but often it's just as a nice way for them to buy some thinking time.

If you think all this sounds unfair or skewed toward the hiring manager's favour than you are completely right.

A company looking to hire someone new is taking a risk. They are spending hard-earned money from their business to add someone unknown and untested in to their existing structure. They are allowed to be a little picky in how they hire.

Guess what? You can be picky too.

Imagine if, when you were leaving an interview that you had just nailed, you calmly said "I have an interview scheduled at another company tomorrow so I won't be making a decision on any offers until the end of the week"

Boom. Power dynamic just flipped around.

I want to be clear - I am NOT saying you should lie about having other interviews lined up. That's stupid and you will be caught out.

What I am saying is that you should have other interviews lined up.

If you don't do this, and are just putting all your eggs in to this one job, don't be surprised when you get all stressed out over-analysing every word the hiring manager said.

You got to play it cool. Don't be surprised when a hiring manager tells you they have other interviews lined up. They probably do and you should too.

Zac Sky