As a healthcare recruiter, this subject comes up a alot. How to cut short an interview?

It’s probably the most uncomfortable moment during an interview.  It’s the exact moment when an employer knows that the candidate is not the right fit, for whatever reason.  For most employers that moment can be within the first 5 minutes of an interview.

So why bother continuing the small talk that is essentially wasting both parties time, energy and resources?  Probably most employers want to be politically correct and at least spend 30 minutes to give an applicant a chance or to confirm what they already know.

An interviewing intervention should occur at the exact moment during an interview when clearly it’s a “no go.”  Healthcare recruiters are experts at knowing this.

Here are 5 ways to end an interview:

1.  The Stop Now– this is probably the most honest but brutal approach to ending an interview at the moment an employer knows the interview is over.  Quite simply the employer moves back in his/her chair stands up, shakes the person’s hand and tells the applicant the honest truth- (again this is brutal)- “I regret to say that although you have an interesting background, you are not what I am looking for and I will not be hiring you.  I do thank you for your time.”

2.  The Stop in 30– this is very similar to the Stop Now but it’s a bit easier on the nervous system for both parties.  Basically the employer knows in advance that the applicant will have 30 minutes minimum before informing the candidate that he/she is not going to be hired.  After 30 minutes the employer glances at the clock, thanks the applicant for the interview and wraps it up.

3. The Pre-Planned Interruption– 10 or 15 minutes during an interview, all of a sudden the employer’s phone rings and of course he/she takes the call, in essence interrupting the interview.  This is a very common technique.  In advance of an interview, an employer asks an associate or an assistant to call at a predetermined time giving the employer an opportunity to decide whether or not to excuse the interruption and terminate early the interview.  Conversely many times if the interview is going well, the employer can decide not to take the call.

4.  The Double Down– this is where an employer and another member of the team is a part of the interview.  It’s the old “good cop/bad cop” situation in which at the point when the employer knows that the interview is over, the colleague interrupts and promptly thanks the applicant for the interview and escorts this person out of the employer’s office.  Perhaps there is “paper work” that needs to be filled out and bit of “we thank you for interviewing but we have many interviews lined up this afternoon.”

5.  The Double Reverse– this happens when an employer knows the interview is over reverses the interview to fact find about what the employee’s company is up to- how they operate- maybe a time to learn how one’s competitors are operating.  It’s a complete reversal because the  interview is about the company in which the candidate is employed-not the candidate.   Albeit, this is a bit sneaky but at least the interview was not a complete waste of time.

In conclusion, an employer’s attention is a scarce resource and should not be wasted in a long winded interview in which the employer is convinced that this person is not a fit.   It’s perfectly OK to end an interview early.

Any questions or comments? I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc. I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at