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I had a job interview yesterday with another advertising/PR firm. I’m not really looking as my ultimate goal is to leave Canada and to move to the UK. But still, there’s nothing wrong with gaining some practice and developing my interviewing skills.

The position they are hiring for is for a Corporate Senior Accountant. Corporate in that the candidate would be responsible for the Financial Reporting of the company. I already do this where I am, so it would not be a major stretch for me. And they desired someone who had familiarity with working in a “job docket” environment.

I dutifully went to the interview yesterday. The interview was with the HR Manager and the hiring Manager in Finance. I was scheduled for 12 noon. HR did not come and collect me from reception until 12:15pm, so even from my own perspective I detected a certain lack of respect for timeliness. But I digress.

The Hiring Manager has been with the company for 3 months, so he has not yet gained the clout to determine what is the best personality fit for the company.

I answered questions from the Hiring Manager. Surprisingly I knew him, from my time at my current position – as he was the Director of Finance of a sister company. We chatted about the different projects I worked on while employed by different companies. How I instituted a change in processes and got non-finance managers onboard.

I was pleasant, I was open. I thought it went well.

I received a frantic phone call from my headhunter asking me what went wrong. I don’t know what went wrong, I thought I did well. The HR Manager told my head hunter that they wouldn’t continue with me as a candidate because:

  • I did not smile enough
  • I did not display enough energy
  • I did not display enough enthusiasm for the role

Now my explanations/excuses are:

  • I’m a fucking accountant, not a marketing twerp who spends most of their days schmoozing clients. I work with numbers. I do analysis. I calculate taxes, both corporate and retail sales tax. I produce monthly, quarterly, and yearly financial statements. I produce tax packages for the yearly income tax filings with the appropriate tax authorities. I supervise Accounts Payable. I work with auditors – tax, internal and external.
  • I did express that I found the position interesting, a challenge and something new. As the position itself was a new position (new title) there is an opportunity to make the position my own.
  • Because this company works in Public Relations, using the increasing power of Social Media I very strongly iterated (and reiterated atleast 3 times) that I saw the power of social media and how it is overtaking conventional methods of advertising and promotion.
  • I joked with the Finance Manager.

I have run across this before. When HR has a major say in who gets hired I never do well in the interviews. I am not an overly bubbly person. I am quietly confident in my skills, personable, but not loud. HR Managers seem to forget that it should be up to the hiring manager what they are looking for. First and foremost are the hard skills – can the candidate do the job. After that is the soft skills. Soft skills does not mean hiring an extrovert.

At the end of the day all I care about with HR is that I get paid on time. That my benefits package is handled. And that I have someone to chat with if there are any workplace conflicts. But HR should stay out of the interview except in a support capacity.  Hiring Managers should have the final say, not HR.

I had the exact same experience in December, just a couple months ago. The hiring manager, and her manager loved me. Then I met HR. Then it all went to shit. Needless to say the hiring manager has left that company and I strongly suspect that it was because HR was flexing its muscles too much and not paying attention to the needs of the Hiring Manager.

Where I am employed at the moment HR has it right. HR does not get involved in the interviewing process. I had to hire a Temp last year, to cover my assistant’s 3 week honeymoon. HR’s only involvement came after I had decided who to hire – to make sure all the legalities (paperwork) were attended to, and to guide me through the process of getting the temp setup in the network and getting them the necessary access. A co-worker, Charlotte, hired Monica a few months ago. In her case she too did not have HR involved until the very end – when all the paperwork had to be attended to. In my current workplace  HR knows their place – and that it isn’t determining who is the best fit for a position as they do not know the first thing about what is required for a prospective candidate to be successful – how to assess if they can do journal entries, understand the bare basics of accounting principles and whatnot.

I am really hoping I don’t go through this shit if I do manage to move to the UK.