Up close and personal

So I had a funny thing happen this week.  In the course of preparing a formal employment offer, the hiring leader directed me to ask a series of additional questions to that candidate about his home and family life.  Perfectly understandable given an international relocation was involved.  But the comment from the hiring leader threw me – “I want you to ask the questions, because I don’t want to get too personal at this stage”.

I was thrown by this comment.  Frankly, if the potential boss of this person is uncomfortable in “getting personal”, isn’t that a missed opportunity to build on engagement between the candidate and the prospective employer?

We’ve long preached about the importance of emotional contracts in the hiring process.   And a quick flick through any recent Gallup or Harvard or Forbes research publications shows that people repeatedly resign (and join) because of their bosses.  So this personal connection between a potential new joiner, and their hiring leader must be an important factor.

In this instance, the questions needing answers, weren’t so sensitive or intrusive that the hiring leader could feel the opening of discrimination risk if the offer went sour.  In actual fact, the questions showed care, compassion, and an understanding of the need to balance new home and family integration with professional life in a new country. 

It also wasn’t a situation where there was limited chemistry between the hiring leader.  Nor was the hiring leader so short on time or over committed on travel as to not be able to connect directly with the candidate.  The company culture isn’t hierarchical, and the hiring leader is actually a very experienced, accomplished and well respected HR professional, and not someone whom I would regard as lazy for their responsibilities within a hiring process.

As it happens, I already knew the answers (because we're so thorough with our own candidate relationships).  But I am left scratching my head about yet another hiring leader missing this opportunity to capitalise on a strong emotional contract within the hiring process.  People buy people after all……