Have you noticed when you ask someone a question, that is pretty simple to answer – like a “yes” or “no” question and they answer you back with “it’s a long story…” it never really is a long story. It’s that they just don’t want to tell you what you don’t want to hear!
It’s funny that people act that way – because usually it’s really that the other party just wants some closure – just let me know! Let me know if this sounds familiar:
Candidate: (ring, ring – that’s phone) “Hi, Tim? It’s Mary Smith, I was just calling back to see if you had any feedback on my interview?”
Tim: “Mary! (as I frantically look up Mary on my ATS) How are you? (which buys me another few seconds)”
Candidate: “Tim, I’m doing great, just anxious to hear on this position – I really want it!”
Tim: “Mary you interviewed very well but, well, it’s a long story…(then I make up some long story on my way to telling her “No, you didn’t get selected)”
We tend to see this is a way of “letting someone down easy” but in fact it’s a mechanism we use individually because we are uncomfortable at giving negative feedback and it’s rather annoying. It draws out the conversation longer than it needs to be – usually you then say something you shouldn’t, which leads to more conversation. We teach our hiring managers to be direct and to-the-point when delivering performance feedback – don’t “beat around the bush” – but many of us HR/Talent Pros struggle mightily trying to do just that – be direct!
Don’t make it a Long Story – make it a short story – the candidate will thank you and your legal team will thank you.