Author Archives: Alex Greenwood

Is A Rotten Job Interview Bad PR for a Company?

Many companies lagging when it comes to ‘manners’ of the hiring process.

After three months of hit-or-miss interviews, Sharon* was thrilled to be considered for a high-profile position at a local non-profit organization that enjoyed deep community support.  She prepped for the interview by researching the organization and formulating scenarios of ways she would add value if hired.

Sharon arrived fifteen minutes ahead of her interview and was asked by a harried-looking staffer to have a seat and that they would be with her shortly. “Shortly” turned into fiftee12549044-what-was-your-worst-job-interview-2n minutes past her scheduled appointment time; then thirty minutes more, then an hour. Staff passed by as she sat in the reception area, but no one checked on her, offered an explanation or said a word.

“It was only after about eighty minutes that the marketing director came out and said they were running late,” Sharon said. “No apology, really. Just ‘we are running late and you are to continue to wait.'” Finally, fifteen minutes after that exchange, Sharon was asked to join the hiring team for the interview. After twenty minutes of pro forma questioning, she was thanked for her time and excused.

“They called me two weeks later and asked if I would come in for a second interview. I still didn’t have a job, but I was so turned off by the experience I declined. I thought if they were that poor at managing a job interview, why would I want to work there? No matter what their public image, who knows what kind of a mess that place is?”

Oh Nice, They Sent Me A Postcard

“One of my favorites was a cattle call interview a few years ago,” said Brad*, a respected product manger and designer. “I sat in a room with about fifty other applicants, filling out all the application information that my resume already contained.”

The last item in the stack of documents was a pre-printed rejection postcard. The candidates were told to fill in their home address on the front. Brad waited, had his interview and three days later received the rejection postcard he had addressed.

“It was efficient, but not the most professional method the company could have chosen,” he said. “Had that happened today, you know I would have posted their postcard on social media.”

Are Bad Interviews Bad PR?

The jobs report released in March 2016 showed a gain of 242,000 jobs in February and an unemployment rate maintaining at 4.9 percent. While not incredible, it’s mostly good news–the economy is on the move and there are jobs to be had. Though it’s doubtful many are saying it’s an “employee’s job market,” it does indicate there is a need for qualified workers.

That said, are employers forgetting that a job interview is a two-way street, especially in the era of social media as Brad suggested? Are interviewing processes creating a bad PR feedback loop among applicants? Is conducting a bad job interview a real danger to the public image of a company?

“We advise our clients every day on ways to avoid damaging their brand,” said Alex Greenwood, principal of AGPR Public Relations of Kansas City. “We think that kind of strategy should not only be employed in a company’s public facing actions but in its internal hiring activities, also. Remember, especially in the age of social media and, employers are being evaluated every bit as much as job candidates.”

Sure, we’ve all heard of weird job interview stories–people showing up and eating a sandwich during an interview, pouring the entire candy dish in their pocket, admitting they want to steal, etc. But what if the company was the party at fault in bad interview?

“Companies know that filling a job vacancy is never easy, but many busy hiring and HR managers often are their own worst enemy,” said Stephanie Guin, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP of The Guin Group, a Kansas City-based human capital consulting firm.

“With the job market changing from one where the employer held all the cards to that where the employee does, unfortunately some companies and their hiring staff–be it HR or the hiring manager–are lagging when it comes to ‘manners’ of the hiring process. An interview is, in essence, a date of sorts between both parties. Companies often forget this. Both parties deserve the same level of respect,” Guin added.

Wrap it Up

“One senior interviewer made it obvious that he was through with me when he looked at his watch and mouthed the words, ‘It’s ten,’ to the HR rep in the room with us,” said James*, a manager. “I was in the middle of an answer to one of his questions but it was clear he wasn’t listening anymore. This hour-long slot for our interview was finished and he was off the clock. He put his pen down, stopped writing notes, abandoned eye contact and crossed his arms.”

“When I paused, he looked over at the HR rep once more and said, ‘I think we have everything we need.’ He made that finger-spinning gesture that off-camera directors do on morning talk shows. It said, ‘Wrap it up.’ I was ushered out of the room with a quick shake of my hand from the stunned HR rep. It was a thanks-but-no-thanks attitude and I was relieved to never hear from them again.”

Even when a candidate gets a job, they always remember a poorly executed interview. Roger* had an appointment which started late because the interviewer was late from lunch.

“He left me waiting for at least twenty minutes beyond my scheduled time. His TV had March Madness playing, and he kept looking over my shoulder at the tube. I don’t think he ever really made eye contact. He barely glanced at my resume. We talked for five, maybe ten minutes and that was that. I did get the job, but I never really bonded with that guy.”

Dallas-based career coach and author Tami Cannizzaro has seen this often in her work with candidates.

“Nothing says ‘I’m not interested’ more to a job candidate than a hiring manager who arrives to the interview late with a deer-in-the-headlights look, totally unprepared to ask questions,” she said. “Even worse is when they rush through the interview to make it to another meeting. Yet I hear this often from clients as we debrief from their interview. My clients are ready for the interview: they have questions to ask; they have researched the company; they are dressed appropriately, with copies of resumes and business cards. Why are the hiring managers not prepared?”

Advice for Hiring Managers

“Companies should consider training all hiring managers in how to conduct a good interview. Just as they expect candidates to be on time and prepared, the company should hold hiring managers accountable as well.”

Ultimately, candidates walk away from bad interviews feeling insulted, dejected–even depressed, especially if they have been out of work and are becoming desperate for an opportunity.

“Bad interviews stick with candidates for a very long time. I work with many clients at all levels looking to change careers or advance. I have heard horror stories from several. A bad experience where a candidate feels like they were not treated with at least basic human decency can have ramifications on his or her psyche,” Guin said.

Simon* reported a situation from ten years ago, where he was pretty sure he was a placeholder candidate. The interviewers were going through the motions because they had to, and they didn’t care he knew it.

“I’ll never forget an interview I had for a position with a university. The hiring committee was a vice president who answered directly to the president of the university; the other two answered directly to her. When I arrived, I was asked to sit. From there, I watched for twenty minutes as the trio sat before me, finishing their lunches, laughing and gossiping.

“When the interview finally began, they each asked me a fairly benign question with no follow-ups and sent me away. I never received a letter or message stating I was rejected. I had to call several times to get an answer. I can tell you, had social media been an option at that time, I would have been sorely tempted to let the world know what unprofessional clowns they are.”

Flash forward to today: what if a job candidate is treated poorly in an interview and decides to take it to the Internet. Would it matter? Would that person merely look foolish–a case of sour grapes–or could it do damage to a brand if the world knew they kept job candidates waiting 90 minutes, or had them fill out their own rejection card, or treated them as something less than human?

Perhaps the mere fact that someone is looking for work precludes them from exacting revenge on social media, and employers know it. But is it worth the risk?

“Besides doing the decent thing, it ultimately pays dividends for a company’s image,” Greenwood said. “People may not be thrilled if they don’t get a job, but they will remember they were treated with respect in an interview.”

HR expert Guin has a final word for companies about examining their hiring practices.

“Much time has been spent on training and coaching applicants how to be respectful and land a good job, but many organizations are not showing applicants the same courtesy.  As a result, many applicants do not show back up for second interviews, will decline job offers, or will in general badmouth the firm that they had the encounter with.”

“All of this spells disaster to the company who was trying to fill a position,” she said. “And, if the applicant does end up taking the position, what kind of expectations has the company set regarding respectfulness and even time management in general? The whole thing just leaves a bad taste in the potential employee’s mouth. Not good.”


Stephanie Guin’s Interview Tips for Hiring Managers

During an Interview:

  • Be on time!
  • Make sure your office is in order.
  • There should be no interruptions during an interview. Place your phone(s) on do not disturb or vibrate if possible
  • Smile. Help the candidate feel relaxed. (A relaxed candidate will provide more information than an intimidated one!)
  • Outline the interview.
  • Seek contrary evidence.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Be attentive & listen.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Share the essential functions of the job with the candidate.
  • Let the candidate do most of the talking. (80/ 20 Rule: They talk 80% of the time, you talk 20%.)
  • Observe body language.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge.
  • Probe incomplete answers.
  • Keep reactions to yourself.
  • Silence is OK. (Let the candidate formulate thoughtful answers.)
  • Determine the candidate’s interest.
  • Maintain control.(Don’t allow the candidate to digress or avoid questions.)
  • Do not tell the candidate too much about your needs until the end of the interview.
  • Remember to take good notes because you will forget 80% of what you learn in one hour.
  • Close the interview on a positive note.
  • Thank the candidate for his/ her time and explain how and when you will communicate with him/ her again.
  • Remember that every candidate may be a potential customer!

After the Interview:

  • Review notes.
  • Write additional notes as needed.

Please note: Names marked with an * have been changed to protect the anonymity of the commenter.

#PR Builds Sales

PR Builds Sales

#PR Builds Revenue


#PR Means Value.

PR Means Value

Survey: Public Relations Valued As Revenue and Brand Builder

The 2016 AGPR Public Relations Survey is complete, and the results generally bode well for the practice of Public Relations, its use as a viable business builder and the general attitude of those who work with PR professionals.

Conducted In February/March 2016, the unscientific survey was conducted online and promoted via social media. The number of respondents who completed the survey was below survey targets, but there were enough data collected to create a snapshot about the state of Public Relations in business today.

First, the demographics of the respondents:

  • 54% male, 46% female.
  • Geographically, respondents were located across the USA.
  • The majority of respondents were between the ages of 40 and 59, though we also had responses from people in their 20s, 30s and 60s.
  • All respondents claimed employment; 80% working full time. The majority of respondents work in the Professional Services sector.

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  • Fully 75% of respondents either hired, supervised or worked directly with the PR team.

Then it gets more interesting.

  • 42% work at a company that employs a PR professional.
  • 42% work with a PR agency.
  • 8% work with a solo PR consultant.
  • The rest do not work with a PR pro, firm or consultant.

Services provided by the PR team leaned heavily on press releases (media relations), social media content/community management and brand strategy. Respondents also selected marketing consultation and crisis communications as services provided.

When asked what aspects of PR are “beneficial to my company’s success” the answers focused heavily on financial growth and brand management:

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This is a huge statement, as it ascribes a direct return on investment to public relations services. Respondents believe that PR builds revenue and increases brand awareness. We submit that working hand in glove with marketing and sales, even a modest public relations program can become a vital, indispensable factor in the growth of a company, organization or brand.

Respondents also believe, to a lesser degree, that PR differentiates a brand from its competitors and can protect it in a crisis. Speaking for ourselves, we use tools like social media to create a brand “tone of voice” for clients that can effectively convey positive brand messages in a crisis situation. This, along with more traditional crisis com practices, enhances our ability to work with the news media in a crisis situation.

Perhaps the biggest news from the survey was that 74% of respondents valued PR services ROI at Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.51.32 AMabove average or excellent.












Clearly, there is a need and appreciation for public relations services in today’s business environment as an engine for brand and revenue building. AGPR looks forward to working with you, your brand or organization to enhance awareness, revenues and customer engagement.


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