Boyden Executive Search

Blind dates are sometimes good, usually bad, and always weird at the beginning. So are many interviews between a candidate and a hiring company.

By Tom Sorensen

Blind dates are sometimes good, usually bad, and always weird at the beginning. So are many interviews between a candidate and a hiring company.

It bugs me how hiring companies still treat applicants and candidates as though they desperately need a job, and subject them to the abuse and arrogance of misinformed hiring managers. Candidates also tell me that hiring managers and companies seem unprepared when they turn up for an interview, which is disrespectful.

Now, if you have no problems whatsoever attracting, hiring and retaining staff, you can stop reading now. We envy you. For the rest of us, please keep reading.

What turns off, irritates and upsets applicants and candidates?

If you are a hiring manager, HR manager, or just someone applicants and candidates come into contact with, here’s a list of things that turn off, irritate and upset people you might badly need to hire…but probably won’t, because if they’re mistreated, they will reject your offer of employment and take their talent elsewhere.

Communication breakdowns: Prior to the interview the candidate is given no information about how many people they will meet, what their names are or what positions they hold in the company, whether there will be one interview with so many people or perhaps two or three back-to-back meetings that could last half a day, or how many hours the interview(s) will take.

A good candidate requests leave in advance from their current employer to make sure they can attend the interview and allow sufficient time for it. So, understandably, they do not appreciate a last-minute change of date and time. This forces them to cancel their approved leave at short notice and waste a day or half-day of their modest annual leave entitlement.

The need for better communication doesn’t end there. One of the biggest complaints I hear from applicants and candidates is about the lack of feedback following an interview. There is no regular weekly (or even bi-weekly) update on how the hiring process is going. If a candidate has filled the position, no one bothers to tell the others. Your organisation can make a huge difference by ensuring that every prospective employee who interviews with you is at least informed when your search is concluded. And why not say thank you for their time and consideration?

Bring it to the 21st Century

Paper trail: For some unexplainable reason, companies in many countries still ask applicants and candidates to start their interview by filling out an application form. Often this form contains data that is typically only needed once the person is hired, not during the process of assessing candidates. It also duplicates a lot of information that is on the candidate’s CV, making it redundant.

This outmoded practice is a relic from a time when there were more people than jobs, companies had the luxury of an abundance of talented candidates for each vacancy, and used a personnel department rather than HR. It’s 2018. Please stop this waste of time and paper.

Are you hiring a Board Chairman or Supervisor?

Mistaken identities: Some companies interview staff and managers as though they are hiring a Chairman for the Board of Directors. The number of interviews seems to go on forever. If these interviews were done and over with in one day – which can probably be accomplished if you are not hiring for a senior management or board role – it would cast your company in a better light. Appropriately matching the rigour of the interview process to the level of the position would demonstrate that you have an understanding of the job market, where speed to hire the best is a must, and that you realise the candidate does not necessarily need your job and you respect their time.

If, on the other hand, you are hiring senior managers or executives, please do not send your junior human resources officer to conduct the first interview. This could easily backfire, as senior candidates may, quite reasonably, find it an insult to not be taken more seriously. Show that you consider the candidate worth the time of a senior person in your organisation. Put your best foot forward, with someone who has been there, done that, and can even communicate in that special managerial lingua.

Proceed with caution: It’s not advisable to ask the candidate why he or she wants to leave their current employment. Maybe they don’t – especially if your organisation is using a recruitment company or search firm to help find candidates. These candidates are often not necessarily looking for a change of job, but have merely agreed to be “open to talk”. Given this possibility, a more appropriate question is: “When our recruiter called you about this opportunity, what was it that convinced you to come and see us today?”

With the fight for the right talent being waged, especially in countries with low unemployment rates, those who want to work are already working. The only way to get the best people is to take them from someone else.

How do you do that? Read all of the above again. Share this story with everyone who is involved in hiring. Good luck.