Recently a new client said he was disappointed that we coached a candidate prior to their interview. Since I have very strong feelings about recruiters coaching (and have a strong referral network for both candidate coaching and resume writing), I was taken aback, but asked for clarification.
The client said the candidate was ‘so well prepared and hit the mark to a T’, that we had to have coached him. I explained that we don’t coach, but instead we prepare the candidates.
So, is there a difference between ‘Coaching’ and ‘Preparing’ for an interview?
The answer may depend on who you ask, but I’ll make it clear from our perspective. We define coaching as rehearsing potential questions and answers prior to the interview. Sometimes this includes grooming, dress, physical presentation, how the candidate communicates their background, etc. As much as some candidates do need, and want this, we simply don’t do it. It’s not in our best interest, especially when we recruit for ‘authentic behaviors’.
Instead we educate and prepare the candidate on the history of the company, their impact in their field, the leadership, management style, scope and responsibilities of the position, benefit package, potential obstacles in the new role and more. The candidate has the ability to research the company, reviews, website, industry information, etc, and make their own decision as to how they want to proceed in the process.
Essentially, candidates are prepared with enough information to approach the interview from an educated, qualified perspective. What they do with that information, as well as how they communicate their background and relevant experience, is up to them. We gave them the tools, it’s up to the candidate what they build with them.
Footnote: Our client hired the candidate. The interview was thorough; the candidate lined up with what their overall goals were and together their philosophies were in sync. A couple weeks after the candidate started, the client called and said he finally got it. He had a light bulb moment and realized that through effective discovery and a solid understanding of their business and what was really needed in this position, we were able to find the candidate who fit their bill. It wasn’t about coaching someone to answer the questions correctly, it was about finding the candidate who would solve their problem.