We likely all agree that when a manager launches a quest to source and hire a new employee, they have pure intentions, including a desire to parlay professional, human-touch protocol. Candidates interviewing for the open position desire to behave likewise.
Moreover, while both sides of the interview desk not only strive for this behavior, they also anticipate receiving similar consideration.
Why, then, does the protocol sometimes crumble? It can happen on either side of the recruiting desk. However, in this article, we will focus in on unintended behaviors that occur from the hiring side–behaviors that can deflate candidates, leaving them feeling like a cog in the wheel.
Following are two examples where candidates were made to feel this way, as well as methods you can employ to prevent similar disappointments in your recruiting process.
Example 1: Candidate Was Pressed to Act Now, and Then Was “Ghosted.”
Sourced candidates often are not active job hunters. In fact, many are passive job seekers, engrossed in their own to-do lists and corporate hoops-jumping. When you approach them with a need-to-fill-quickly job, it may come across that you are less interested in their candidacy value and more focused on fixing your company’s time-constraints problem.
This can deter an otherwise potentially interested candidate. The old adage, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part,” applies here. Add to this, the problem of a recruiter hurriedly reaching out to a candidate, only to just as quickly cease all communication, for another more available or desirable candidate.
I have witnessed this hurry-up and ‘ghost’ interaction multiple times with my job-seeking clients. Most recently, this occurred with a general manager tapped by both an eager recruiter and hiring decision-maker for a next-level role. The candidate, despite having holiday plans and immersed in heavy-duty trade show planning with his current employer, promptly replied to the advances of the hiring executive, with interest.
After a series of high-touch communications, including several interviews, the hiring company pressed the candidate to fly out to their corporate headquarters in short order, with little notice to his current employer. When the candidate explained his reticence and inability to maneuver so quickly through their hoops, the hiring executive and recruiter quickly went silent.
Too busy? Moved on to a more readily-available candidate, perhaps?
To the candidate, however, it simply appeared rude and (as he was a sales leader accustomed to thorough and conversational relationships), it struck him even stranger that the communications would stop so abruptly, without closure.
The company who had reached out to him was a global enterprise, with numerous locations. The likelihood the same candidate might be considered for a future role at another location was high (and in fact, they did reach out to him again, several months later). So, why risk damaging a potential ongoing relationship with such negligent behavior?
While situational recruiting urgency isn’t always avoidable, there are ways to improve upon the overall candidate communication process.
Actively sourcing passive candidates remains the most effective way to build relationships with top talent. Even if a prospect is not actively looking, they may be in a few months or even a year or more. The goal should be to establish a connection and build a relationship so that you and your company are top of mind when they do start looking. According to Lever’s 2019 Talent Benchmarks Report, sourcing is twice as efficient as relying on applicants, and it’s becoming more efficient over time, too. Compared to 2016, it now takes 40% fewer sourced candidates to make a hire.
Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to invest your energies into these proven and proactive sourcing strategies?
Pro Tip: Lever’s five-step nurture process includes a series of touch points that includes defining the role and reason from the outset; creating interest and a reason for outreach; defining the problem the role will solve; checking in for interest/referrals; and, lastly (and perhaps most importantly), keeping in touch.
Moreover, the Talent Benchmarks Report shows that the sixth email achieves a 46% response rate, proving that strong communication can help companies win the race for top talent.
This type of relationship building also can help avoid the potential aftermath of such poorly executed transactions as with the above example, including the problems of ghosting.
As Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, points out, “Transactional workplaces lead to transactional hiring, which leads to ghosting on both sides. Everyone’s feelings get hurt, and we are no better off in the end.”
Maybe even, despite scheduling complexities, the above scenario would have resulted in a path to interview resolution, had a prior relationship been so nurtured. Moreover, a well-tended recruiter-candidate relationship may result in positive value-add consequences, even when the candidate declines or is not offered the role. This may include the candidate referring qualified colleagues your way.
Pro Tip: Communication with candidates is at the heart of the recruiting process. In fact, according to a 2018 Glassdoor survey, 58% of job seekers say clear and regular communication is the most important part of the application process. Lever’s recruiter-tested tools ensure your high-quality sourced candidates don’t get left by the wayside because of communication missteps.
Example 2: Candidate Jumped Through Hoops But the Final Follow-up Fell Flat.
A management candidate responded to a recruiter’s pitch on the weekend. This included two, on-the-spot Saturday afternoon interviews with both the recruiter and hiring executive, and the candidate completing multiple personality and leadership assessments during the subsequent two weeks.
After many weekend and after-work evenings and hours invested in the process, the candidate awaited next steps.
And, while she expressed genuine interest in the role as it was pitched, the candidate was not actively seeking a new role. She invested into the process to learn more about the opportunity, the company and the leadership, to determine if the ‘juice would be worth the squeeze’ of jumping ship. She wanted to assess if the pitched opportunity would potentially propel her career to the next level and whether the company culture was a fit.
The interview and assessments went well, and (as with the prior example) the company asked her to travel cross-country for an in-person meeting the following Thursday. Again, the travel timing was not possible, as it was on the heels of the candidate’s recent vacation. However, the hiring executive offered to schedule a Zoom conversation in lieu of hopping a jet.
But, the hiring executive never followed up.
When the search abruptly wrapped up (the company ultimately gravitated to someone in the local geography versus having to relocate the candidate, according to the recruiter’s feedback), communications ended just as abruptly.
Aside from a brief follow-up with the recruiter, the company’s HR department sent a sterile, “You’re not a fit. We have gone with another candidate” stock email.
And, the hiring executive with whom the candidate had exhaustively conversed, was unresponsive to a final closure email. Further communications with the company ceased altogether.
The candidate drew unpleasant conclusions from the poor, final communications. After all, she had dropped everything for the past two weeks to jump through the company’s hoops to explore this potential partnership. Diligently interacting with the human resource administrators, staying in touch with the hiring executive and the recruiter, while also completing loads of assessments and application forms is a thoughtful and exhaustive process within which to navigate.
The candidate surmised that the company’s disrespectful, unfinished protocol despite her demonstrated interest and deep investment in the process, was a symptom of other, looming corporate culture issues. The company fell far short of the meaningful interactions that are expected in our high-touch social networking world. She therefore crossed the company off of her list for future interviews.
Had the recruiter and the hiring executive exhibited that they valued the candidate’s time, then an ongoing relationship may have sparked. This could have led to a mutually advantageous employment and networking relationship down the road.
Pro Tip: With Lever, the entire talent team – from recruiter to hiring manager to executive – gets to collaborate seamlessly in one system across every phase of the talent relationship. Proactive sourcing continues to be the most effective and efficient way to hire. On average, it only takes 43 sourced candidates to make a hire (compared to 109 applicants).
Moreover, companies are (overall) making 24% of their hires by actively sourcing candidates. Given the current shortage of job-seekers, this number will likely increase significantly.
Don’t lose silver-medal candidates who could be a good fit in the future by dropping the relationship-nurturing ball. Download Lever’s eBook, 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Communicating with Candidates, that will help you avoid the interviewing pitfalls caused by poor communication and instead, deliver more of the human-touch transparency that top talent craves.