BLUF: When a candidate is interested in being considered for more than one position, how can you discuss both positions clearly so that the candidate doesn't start conflating them in her mind?
Background: we are hiring for two different nurse positions. Both require an RN certification, but the jobs are different: different skill set, different hours, different responsibilities, different salary.
My nursing supervisor screened a candidate with a strong resume; during the initial phone interview, the candidate expressed interest in being considered for both positions. Since (on paper) she could theoretically be a fit for either, I didn't see a problem.
During the interview, I started with an overview of both roles - job descriptions, skills, schedule, and salaries. I tried to compare and contrast the roles so she could consider the two roles and determine which (if either) she was more interested in. She immediately seemed more interested in the second of the positions, so I tailored my interview questions toward determining her suitability for that position. She seemed like a fair, but not great, fit for that position, so I asked some questions relating to the first position, for which she seemed a much better fit.
I told her at the end of the interview that her skills & our needs seemed to mesh better for job #1, and if she was interested in moving forward, we would contact her references, review her writing sample, etc [the rest of our interview workflow]. I invited her to contact me with questions if she had any.
A few days later, she emailed us, thanking us for the interview (a plus) , and she had some follow up questions. However, her questions seemed to suggest that she had completely conflated the two positions. She expressed her continued willingness to work the title of job #1 with the salary of job #2, with the job description mixing elements of job #1 and job #2, etc.
I think I really messed this up, and I should have made her declare which position she was interested in, and interviewed her for that position. But in that case, I would have excluded her from the other role, which she seems better suited to.
Or maybe this is a red flag -- I would expect someone who understood from the beginning that there were 2 different positions could hold them separate in her mind. (I don't want a nurse confusing two patients who both happen to have cough, for example.) Or maybe she was nervous and wasn't listening. Or maybe this is a weird way to negotiate - she wants to make a counteroffer by taking elements from both jobs and asking for a higher salary (but she didn't declare this explictly in her email.)