Interview or advice booth: Are SAP freelancers giving free consultations?
Everyone looks forward to getting out of an interview they felt went really well. You’re drilled from your first interview onwards that your main goal is to demonstrate your value and to clearly outline your expertise for any prospective employer. An interview is an opportunity to impress those at the other side of the table, in order to ultimately secure a spot on their team.
Questions in an interview can range dramatically depending on the employer, position and location. Within SAP or enterprise technology interviews, employers often seek to understand a candidates technical and functional capabilities. While these questions can be both broad and specific, they should be aimed at determining the candidates’ suitability for the role.
The conditions seem clear: if the candidate can demonstrate their superior suitability, they should be offered the position. However, hiring practices are unfortunately not always as clear as they should be.
Bait and switch
Within the ERP market, there is a troubling trend of potential employers inviting niche and senior candidates in to interview in order to get them to troubleshoot existing issues within their projects/systems with dubious intention actually employ. Consultants have reported attending these interviews and spending a substantial period of the time walking the interviewers through potential solutions as they take notes.
Of course, some of this should not seem unusual. Employers need to ensure that the candidate has the expertise necessary to succeed in the role and asking hypothetical or detailed questions in regards to technical solutions can be the best way of doing this. That being said, many of these accounts are followed by unsuccessful outcomes for the candidates interviewed, mostly with the dreaded outcome of ‘the role was filled internally’.
Rejection despite giving their best and most thorough explanation of potential solutions (which were warmly welcomed during the interview), prompts some candidates to believe that there was no genuine intention to employ to begin with. Further souring the experience is the sneaking suspicion that whoever ‘internally filled’ the position, perhaps a more junior consultant, is now using their solution and guidance that was noted down by the interviewers. Ultimately, candidates are left feeling as if they were lured under false pretences in order to give away valued intellectual property and expertise.
Let’s be clear about a few things:
- If true, the practice would be exploitative.
- Roles are sometimes internally filled, despite having excellent external candidates interview.
- Interviewers should be asking candidates detailed questions in order to verify experience and expertise.
- The intention of the prospective employer is key, but it can also be the hardest element to verify.
So what can be done to prevent both the feeling of and, potentially, actual intellectual theft during an interview?
Interviewers have to verify experience yet sometimes in this process candidates can feel like their giving up precious expertise. Detailed questioning is unavoidable, but references can pull a lot of weight when it comes to demonstrating expertise. Words from previous employers or supervisors working on similar projects can give any prospective employers the peace of mind they require when making a hiring decision. References are especially powerful when the projects are similar or the clients are industry peers.
References cannot replace interviews, but it can generate confidence in the skillset of a candidate, thus circumventing the need for detailed solutions.
In the wake of interviews without any response candidates are always left wondering:
Did I give enough information? Did I give too much information? Did I highlight the right skills? Am I the right fit for the role?
The list can go on, especially when a rejection arrives in your inbox or over the phone. Without clear feedback as to why a candidate was not selected, they can be left wondering about the interview, and potentially whether or not their ideas are being used without them.
For prospective employers post-interview feedback is not only courteous, but necessary when it comes to combating candidates’ misperceptions of hiring intentions. Feedback should also extend beyond short responses that the project was put on hold or that the role was filled internally, as these can often seem like smoke and mirrors in the contract market. If a candidate has taken the time to outline their expertise and potential offering to your project in depth, prospective employers should strive to share the same information.