3 Things You Can Do to Avoid a Bad Candidate Experience Like This One

March 29, 2016

I recently saw this posted on LinkedIn by a frustrated job seeker:

“For 8 weeks I have been in a hiring process for a senior design job for a large Media & Entertainment company. During those 8 weeks I had 4 Interviews in all, and all went really well resulting in me being asked back to meet both CEO's (one of the Entertainment Div, the other the CEO of the whole company).

Great news and I was really looking forward to it. 

In prep for my (life-changing) meeting, I spent a huge amount of effort on designing for them. My efforts included a new Mag design, a new ad campaign concept and the initial design and graphics of an App. (All professionally printed out & mocked up accordingly on boards and such, (like I was pitching an ad campaign) I had some great ideas for the company. Plus, I really wanted this job so it’s worth all that spare time.

My designs were 100% better than the company’s current efforts. I showed my wife, my friends, my dog and got feedback that I would be a hard candidate to turn down. I was prepped and ready to go!

That week on 2 occasions the CEO's both cancelled at short notice, (the 2nd time was a mere 2 hours beforehand). Ok, these are busy people, no problem, just let me know when and where, I will be there.

5 days later the dreaded email arrived saying 'they had gone with someone else.'

No re-arranged meeting, no explanation, nothing. nada. I was furious, my work wasted, no chance to show them what I can do, not even an apology. This is such extremely bad practise, even in this day age, I'm angry at the rudeness of it, the fact they couldn't give me 15 mins of time after my efforts just blows me away. A vile treatment of a sincere job hunter in any regards."

After reading this, my first thought was, “Where was the recruiter in all of this?”. I see several places in the process where the recruiter could have shifted this outcome and avoided such a negative candidate experience. Especially, in how they rejected him.

While it might be easier take a step back once you’ve gotten candidates into the interview process, recruiters should always be a part of the entire candidate experience in order to avoid situations like the one above.

Here are three things recruiters can do to avoid negativae candidate experiences:

1. Follow up personally (even when it’s bad news)

Like it or not, when you source and present a candidate, you have entered into a professional relationship with him or her. They have agreed to let you represent them in the process. They’re trusting you. Even though you work for the employer, they see you as an ally.

When you don’t follow up personally, even when you have to give the dreaded news that the job went to someone else, it says something about your professionalism as a recruiter.

2. Set realistic expectations

The longer the hiring process is with your company, the more likely the candidate will develop a ‘job crush.’ With each interaction, they’ll get more invested in the idea of working for you.

In the case above, the candidate went all out on a presentation. He ran it past family and friends. He was all-in, only to find out the company wasn’t. If you don’t remind them throughout the process that there are other, equally qualified candidates, they can be really angry and let down when they don’t get chosen.

3. Nurture the relationship

You never know when you’ll need someone with the candidate’s skill sets again. By not nurturing the relationship and staying with them throughout the candidate experience, you won’t be in a position to stay in touch and potentially tap them for another role. Not to mention, it’s highly unlikely they’d ever refer their peers to you as well.

As the tightening labor market turns job seekers into “job shoppers,” recruiters can’t afford to let situations like this to happen on their watch. Like it or not, your company’s employer brand and your own recruiter brand are at stake. With 40%+ of candidates saying they will never apply to a company again after a bad experience in the hiring process, can your organization really afford to ignore the need to properly manage the candidate experience?

*Image from The Great Gatsby

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