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Such an important issue. A few years ago, I applied to McKinsey & Co as a resident. I had a pleasant time interviewing and got to the final round. I asked many questions as I was a physician and had no prior background in business but I was really interested and thought this was my calling in life. Their average response time via email was 57 minutes during recruitment. I just checked my old emails.

After my final round, I waited patiently ... and then waited some more. I emailed my recruiter, my "buddy" and my interviewers. I really was interested in working there but I had to make a decision on other jobs. I told them that and they said someone will contact me. 6 weeks later, after I had already taken another job, a recruiter called me saying that I didn't get the job because I did not make their "bar" and a partner will call me with feedback. 3 years later and still no call.

I guess I should be happy that they did eventually contact me but it left a very bitter taste.

Fast forward to two months ago. I was in the position of finding a consulting company to help our hospital system with financial issues. 3 large hospitals. Multimillion dollar contract. McKinsey & Co.'s name came up a few times but my bad experience is what made me eventually recommend another company. One that I got rejected from after the first round but made me feel good. They gave me feedback and didn't make me feel like crap.

Most people claim that McKinsey has a great feedback system, but it failed in my experience and maybe that is what led to us choosing another consulting company.

It taught me a great lesson though. Regardless of who I interview now; resident, attending, or any other position, I personally call them to let them know our decision.

It is a good point to be polite to everyone. It is a Hollywood attitude: the "Hollywood No." Super kind, polite, excited people who figure out the best way to decline you, because nobody knows how big you could get.

On the other hand, your situation might be rare. How often, in the graph of commercial interactions, does the dissatisfied recruit become potential client? Outside the extremely highly compensated (like actors and CEOs), probably very rare.

How often, in the graph of commercial interactions, does the dissatisfied recruit become potential client?

I've had about a sixteen year industrial career now. Most of it spent in the web / internet space. I can think of six cases off the top of my head.

Two of those are probably causing major recruitment problems for particular companies - since the dissatisfied people are 'names' in a fairly narrow field, and are somewhat vocal about their experiences.

It happens a lot more than you think. I talked to a guy in NYC last week who was originally from the UK and we have people in SF and Cambridge UK among our common acquaintances. Six degrees gets really freaky quite quickly once you've been around a few years.

To pick an example from my own experience - I once went to do an interview after being told that it was a position that allowed telecommuting and was of a certain minimum salary. When I arrived it turns out neither of those was true. The recruitment agent had lied. Wasting a day of my time, and an afternoon of the companies.

I know this because the guy who was interviewing was somebody I hired at another company about five years previous to that. I had a lovely time listening to him call up the recruiting firm and rip them a new one. That firm no longer works for him, or for me, at any company we've worked at. I know of others that we have related this story too have shuffled that particular organisation to the bottom of the pile.

Everybody starts somewhere. Paying it forward pays off.

"Six degrees gets really freaky quite quickly once you've been around a few years."

Yup, not only are there former students of mine teaching Maths, but I met an ex-student of a student of mine who is now in training.

Education used to have really good hiring and feedback on interviews in the UK in my experience but since the rise of the HR/litigation culture recently it is about the same as everyone else...

Not rare at all. People you decline aren't going to sod off to another industry, they'll generally stay in the same one, but at another company. If they have talent you didn't see or didn't want, they'll rise and be decision makers. It doesn't have to be multimillion-dollar contracts to have an adverse effect.

Plus, when it all comes down to it, it's the ethical thing to do in the first place.

Yes, it's probably rare; but it could also be an example of poor decision-making in general. If I put you in the position of stating yes/no on a multi-million dollar contract - your emotional grudge issues because you were slighted in another life is the last thing I'm asking of your professional judgment.

These comments show that human issues, and perhaps trivial issues at that, are very much at play in the business world.

If all you wanted was a minimal features analysis you'd have asked an accountant. You asked this professional in the field for his judgment because of his experience and you got it.

That company is unprofessional because they ignore you unless they're making money on you right now. Nobody wants to be stuck waiting for consultants who've found more profitable work and are constantly rescheduling you.

That 'grudge' is really valuable business intelligence.

This situation is very common. See Microsoft's treatment of employees (and how after they left, they decide against using Microsoft technologies)

Nice story, but is it responsible to allow 3 year old personal feelings to influence the decision on a multimillion dollar contract influencing the financial affairs of 3 hospitals?

What if Mckinsey were the best consultancy for the job?

His previous interaction has shown to him that McKinsey might not be a loyal contractor for the prospective contract. The way they treated him in the past might just indicate the way they would treat those hospitals. Since nowadays there is a thick competition for every contract, just the gut feeling of the person in the deciding position is enough to tick them off.

Besides all, he has the first hand experience dealing with them, and they acted unprofessionally. It would be irresponsible for him not to take that into account.

But you can only take that into account if you've had equivalent experience interviewing at other consultancies as well.

If that's basically how they all work, then it could be very irresponsible indeed. You can't judge an entire company based on your interactions (or lack thereof) with a single one of their employees.

So you were miffed a few years ago, and exacted some petty revenge by rigging a multi-million dollar procurement? Sounds like you're on the wrong side of the ethical line.

Similar situation, different market. I applied to a BigLaw firm , Firm X, in law school, went through the interview process. Firm X was not the only firm not to extend an offer, but it was the only firm which never contacted me again after the in-office interview round.

Last fall, a foreign middle-market client (between $10m and $500m in assets) needed a US-based law firm for an m&a deal. Not a very large deal (relatively speaking) but it was an 8-figure deal that led to other 8-figure deals, with very good realization. The client was trying to choose between Firm X and several other firms; Firm X was their top choice simply because they'd heard of it. I told the client about my experiences with Firm X and speculated as to the quality of service they would receive as a middle-market client. The client dropped Firm X from their consideration list and went with another firm.

Not sending a free email or $0.35 letter cost Firm X several million in fees.

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