There really is no “right way” to hire someone or get hired. That said, there are plenty of ways that are clearly wrong. Across all of the examples there is one common thread: a lack of thinking about how the actions of one side will be perceived by the other side.

This blog post was born from a meeting I had this week with an attorney. She told me that she was a lawyer with a national corporation. She received a note that some senior personnel were flying in to her office for a meeting. Unclear of the expectations, she was relieved when they arrived and handed her a trophy, a high-value gift card and a photo opportunity with the executives as she had just won the company’s performance award. With that award came a tap on the shoulder to go into a conference room for the next meeting. At that meeting, with the trophy still in hand, she was told that she was being let go as the company was downsizing.

Think about that. In less than 2 minutes she was told how important she was to the company and then was let go still clutching the trophy.

This company now has an image problem. Clearly this employee will tell this story to everyone she knows and there will be a reluctance in the marketplace to go work for this company in the future. They tainted their own candidate pool with the bone-headed move.

That’s the WRONG way to let someone go.

One example of how this perception issue plays out on the hiring side comes to mind. There, we are seeing more and more firms go back to the happy hour interview. With schedules overly filled, firms are asking candidates to meet them after hours to discuss a possible transition. These after hours meetings are often at bars. While at this venue, it is likely fine to have a drink – maybe even two – depending on the duration of the meeting, but it is never appropriate to have more than several.

We recently had a client tell us about a candidate who showed up early for a happy hour interview. He ordered a drink. When the interviewers showed up, he had another. He had several more during the course of the interview. While he never seemed impaired, his choice to continue drinking after the interviewers had stopped didn’t go unnoticed. This candidate did not get the job even thought he was described by the firm as a “perfect candidate for their needs”. The interview had given them some concerns about his judgment.

Both examples highlight situations when there isn’t enough thought about how actions will be perceived by the other side. When things are done that might be misconstrued, the interview process breaks down and these perceptions may hurt the company or candidate well into the future.