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Should I cancel interviews?

Posted almost 7 years ago by Rebecca Thomas
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Picture the scenario: you’re interviewing candidates for a vacancy in your team and you meet the ‘perfect candidate’ - the one who within the first five minutes of the interview, you are already visualising at the Christmas party. Trouble is, you’ve still got other interviews scheduled. So what do you do; proceed with the interviews as planned, or cancel them and offer the person who just blew you away in their interview?  

Whilst it’s by no means a weekly occurrence, it’s not uncommon for clients to seek our advice when faced with this scenario. The difficulty with this question is there isn’t one straightforward answer, as each situation is influenced by a different set of factors.

Gut instinct of experienced employers is important, but the worst thing you can do is cut corners from your otherwise thorough recruitment and vetting process. Recruiting people isn’t a simple five-minute chat: skills, cultural fit, drive and aptitude must all be considered before getting too carried away. That said, in a talent short market it’s important to keep momentum in the process, which means not delaying between receiving a good CV and inviting them in for an initial meeting, turning around 1st interviews to 2nd interviews and of course making a decision… but it certainly doesn’t mean skipping a stage, process, or test. 

Only if you’ve followed this process and still believe you’ve found your ideal hire, does the question of cancelling other scheduled interviews potentially become valid.

The clear benefits to honouring the other scheduled interviews are the more people you meet and take through the process, the more educated your view will be on what the perfect hire looks like. What’s for sure is each candidate will have different strengths/weaknesses, different approaches and, crucially, different personalities. 

When you take the time to meet with more people, that one person you’ve identified as perfect for the role can set the benchmark. Once this has been established the other candidates you see will either confirm your thinking, or it may be that another interviewee emerges as your preferred hire. In seeing more people you make sure you don’t miss out on someone that is potentially a better fit for your team.

However, unless you’re at the same stage with all applicants and all interviews are within a few days of each other, seeing more people does take time and in any decision-making process, delays can prove costly. With the market for talent moving extremely quickly there can be a risk of losing your preferred recruit to another opportunity if decisions are delayed too long. If there’s a risk this is the case, before making your decision to extend an offer despite having other interviews scheduled, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it about them that makes them so perfect?

  • How many others have you interviewed for this role during this process?

  • How does this person compare when you look back at previous hires for this post?

  • Do you know where the candidate is in the interview process with other opportunities they may be considering?

  • How likely are they to be offered another role if we delay decisions?

  • Are there any other candidates scheduled for interview who have the potential to be as good?

Once you’ve reflected on your answers and on your initial thoughts, you’re in a far more informed position to proceed from. Whatever your decision, never, ever, cancel other interviews until you know your offer has been accepted; only when you are confident everything is confirmed should you cancel other interviews. 

Some people believe cancelling interviews is discourteous and can harm your employer brand. What’s for sure is that it's a delicate process that needs to be handled correctly, but we’d argue that done politely and professionally, you can maintain good relationships with candidates for other future roles that may arise and, whilst they may be disappointed to have missed out on this occasion, people will still have a favourable impression of your business. Ultimately, common courtesy goes a long way. 

Fundamentally, no two hiring decisions are the same, so it’s impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all solution. Our advice to clients will therefore always factor in their specific circumstances.