Boyden Executive Search

Boyden's Tom Sorensen shares nine lessons for recruiters on why a top candidate rejected a job offer at a top company.

This article was originally published on Bangkok Post’s website. Click here to view the original article.

Here you are, this is for you: Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers. You will get lots of learning points in this unbelievable real-life story of why a candidate declined a job offer from a famous brand name in the industry.

The candidate told me the story, why he decided to decline the attractive job offer from one of the big guns in the business. The story started when he one day got a call from a talent acquisition clerk of the company.

Months and months later he was offered the job – but to the company's surprise, he declined.

He gave me these 9 reasons, which he also courageously shared with the HR Director, who called to ask him why.

  1. I had 6 rounds of interviews. One with the Global HR far away from Thailand, who even admitted she had never been to Asia and didn't really understand the culture that seemed so different from her own.
  2. I was grilled with questions but nobody took the time to explain what the job was like. They did not even ask if I had any questions.
  3. Lots of their questions did not make sense – like why I am leaving my employer. Actually, I was not thinking of leaving; their HR recruiter approached me and convinced me to come for an interview.
  4. Where I see myself in five years? They could not even tell me where they see their own company in 6 months. 
  5. The hiring process was too long, too disorganised. The offer took way too long. 
  6. The interviewers did not compare notes, because during the six rounds of interviews they were asking the same questions. 
  7. The interviews should not feel like an interrogation. 
  8. The people interviewing me also looked tired and stressed.
  9. If you want to hire talent, fix your basics. Treat candidates as people, not as applicants.

Are you surprised? Ever had this experience as a candidate? Perhaps you recognise this experience and these recruitment steps from your own company?

Where does one start to explain the do's and don'ts in best practice recruitment after reading this scary real-life story?

Let me be very blunt about this. Embarrassing, unacceptable, and amateurish. There is no way you will impress senior executives with that kind of recruitment process. Period.

Too many hiring companies still think that the supply of people (applicants or candidates) is bottomless, and that they can take forever to make their decision.

It's hilarious to watch the arrogance displayed by some hiring companies, when they call in a candidate five times to interview. Mind you, five times as in five different days. Thai candidates with ten annual leave days have just used 50% of their yearly vacation entitlement to take time off for the interviews.

If you are totally flabbergasted like me, ashamed and angry on the candidate' behalf, wondering why the top management has not provided proper and professional recruitment processes, let's look at how world class hiring companies manage this.

Designing an effective interview process

The key word is: process. There is no difference hiring people through a process than working with processes in accounting, finance, procurement, quality assurance, and production. Recruiting with an effective interviewing process follows these four steps:

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

These famous words are credited to Benjamin Franklin, mentioned as a Founding Father of the United States. In a recruitment context, it means that if you don’t take time to understand what the hiring manager really wants, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

You must insist to get an hour with the hiring manager. Having a job profile is fine but far from sufficient to prepare a recruitment plan. Here are just a few examples of questions you should ask:

If you're interviewing someone by asking them hypothetical questions, also called situational or scenario questions, you don't get the truth, you get speculation. This means that to get a good, accurate picture of their capabilities, don't ask interview questions along the lines of “what would you do in X situation?” or “if X happened, how would you react?”.

Questions should be reality-based, something similar to “tell me about a time you had to…” or “when this happened in your previous position, what did you do?”

Try to understand what people have accomplished in their career rather than spending the whole interview just talking about yourself and how great your company is.

Hiring is also a selling activity

And always remember that hiring is also a selling activity. If you are meeting so-called passive candidates, which are people typically provided by headhunters, keep in mind that these people have good jobs and are not yet necessarily convinced that they should make a move.

If you feel you have a strong candidate, you need to switch into sales mode. That means you should tell them why the grass is greener on your side of the fence compared to where they are employed now. If you manage this, the candidate leaves convinced about the great opportunity your company can offer.

Candidates should be treated with the courtesy and respect that you would offer to your best customer. Make sure that your receptionist is at her best and welcome the potential new colleague with a smile and Thai greeting.

This helps ensure that the candidate’s first impression of your company is positive. Interviews should have the tone of a meeting, an exchange of ideas, rather than a cross-examination of someone’s background.

And the wake-up call to hiring managers; please remember, a candidate may have no more than honest curiosity to learn more about the position and your company.

If the candidate is not convinced about the opportunity after meeting you, the candidate may decide not to pursue the job. Just as you may decide not to move forward with that person.

Key Performance Indicators for talent acquisition

I am a strong believer in: “What gets measured gets done.” It means regular measurement and reporting keeps you focused -- because you use that information to make decisions to improve your results.

Ability to identify and retain talent a key task in years ahead

The Economist published a report some years ago on the subject, “The search for talent (Why it’s getting harder to find)”.

One of their conclusions was, there is not enough talent to go around and the ability to identify and retain talent will be a key task in the years to come.

Sure, not much has changed since then. But why are there still too many times when companies don’t get it right?

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