I think I want to start a "turn-offs" series where I just complain about things that turn me off about candidates. (Or maybe, um, I already have.) Here's the scenario for today's:
We place an ad. It clearly states that the position is based in our headquarters in Washington, D.C. The candidate, who does not live in Washington, applies. We go through a phone interview. We go through an exercise or writing sample. We go through an interview.
At same point not at all near the start of this process, the candidate mentions, casually, that they'd want to work from their home in a city hours and hours away from D.C. I tell them that actually, as the ad said from the beginning, the position is based in our office, and that we're committed to that for various reasons. They then act (a) surprised and (b) often, as if it's too bad that we're not open-minded and visionary enough to see why their plan is a better idea.
Look, I am a huge fan of telecommuting. Huge. I work from home on occasions when I need to, and I'm fine with others doing that too. And I have some employees who work remotely full-time. But for that latter group, the full-time telecommuters, they either (a) worked with us for years before converting to full-time telecommuters, so they knew our culture and expectations well, and we knew and trusted their work ethic, or (b) have jobs that require that they be based in some other city because of the nature of the work.
But with most of the jobs I'm hiring for, it's far better for the organization if the person is based in our office ... because they have to manage people, or work with others where face-to-face conversations help a lot, or absorb stuff that you'll take in like osmosis if you're physically present but really have to work to get if you're far away, or whatever.
And yes, I know that all of that can be done remotely, and there's technology that helps, but I have watched people try, and an awful lot of the time, it's just not the same. At a minimum, it can inconvenience other colleagues. And worst case, the person never quite picks up on our culture and way of doing things and it shows. And that's not a risk I want to take with a stranger when I don't have to. Maybe if you're a rock star candidate and I have no other rock star candidates. Maybe.
But I don't like the bait-and-switch. I advertised the position as based in a specific city for a reason. If you want to know if being a full-time telecommuter is an option, raise it up-front, not halfway through the process. I know they've waited to raise it because they're hoping to wait until I'm so impressed with them that I'll be willing to be flexible on this point, but the problem is that it comes across as disingenuous to wait that long.
And that's today's turn-off.