During a break between facilitating a training program and my next appointment I parked myself in the hotel lobby to take advantage of the WiFi and pleasant surroundings. A handful of other people were doing the same. Courtesy was consistently displayed by discreet phone conversations taken out only of earshot.
I exchanged a few pleasantries with others and shared interesting information with the regional human resources professional who worked for the hotel’s owner. The pattern was broken by the job interview conducted about 15 feet away. The conversation was intriguing for an HR pro sitting as an unofficial observer.
I Heard the Interview Too
I now know that a vehicle repair company is expanding into the county where I spent the day. The candidate had done similar work before being laid off by a competitor. He faced two interviewers (never my recommended format) one who was more formal and the other pretty chatty. I heard a long list of standard interrogatories and pro forma rehearsed answers. There were a few better questions that sought out specific examples. The interviewee had some targeted queries about the company and concluded with a statement about looking for a stable organization.
It sounded like the guy would make the cut to the next step of the process. I’d like to say he was well qualified for the position but it’s hard to tell based on the formula used and the open air context. I was thinking of offering my services to train managers on avoiding interview questions that could be potentially discriminatory — but it wasn’t the right time and place.
Wash, Rinse and Tell Me About the Customers
The next day I heard an earful in between the steps in a hair cut appointment. The salon crew sat practically next to me and carried on a lengthy discussion of current employees, newbies, and those long gone. They also were not shy in expressing opinions about customers. It wasn’t quite a smear campaign; it was a steady stream of gossip. I tried to stick to my lap top attempting to complete a few pages.
How many times have you heard about weekend plans while waiting for a cup of coffee? It’s simply rude and poor service coming from someone responding to a request. These personal discussion are disconcerting and inappropriate when overheard in public. It doesn’t take Facebook for an information leak or discussion that can send the wrong impression.
Take a walk and see who might be listening to your employee chatter.