Have you ever been considering a company, only to back out when someone tells you the “awful truth?” In an employee market that is tough on the company, your employer brand is key to any success. Who are your brand ambassadors and what message is being told in the candidate community? Remember, a brand ambassador does not necessarily have to be inside your company. A brand ambassador can also be someone who is just hitting your website for the first time to check out your open positions or a candidate that goes through your hiring process and doesn’t get that particular job.
The Application – Don’t Be A Black Hole
How are you setting the initial application stage? Ask yourself some key questions. What story are you telling on your website? Can candidates see themselves fitting into your culture? How easy is it to apply? Do you put your new brand ambassadors through a gauntlet web form or ATS system just to apply? How are you responding to an applicant? We have all received the very impersonal “thank you for applying” email, and many times have not received a confirmation of receiving the application at all. You don’t have to personally respond to each application, but you can write a warm and inviting auto response without much effort. Most people think there is a black hole that resumes go, and it is probably the same black hole that socks disappear into from the dryer. Be different from everyone else, and reply to everyone with something meaningful and in a timely manner. And, if it is possible to tell that a candidate is not a fit out of the gates—missing a key skill or experience, you can still send them a response letting them know that. You never know – that person could have a friend who has the experience and might recommend them to apply if they are happy with the company experience thus far.
The Interview – Set Expectations
Expectations can make or break any relationship. Once you have decided you want to speak with a candidate, are you giving them clear expectations of your interview process and are you following through? Don’t be afraid to personalize for differing positions. The path for an entry-level hire vs. a lead or manager should not be the same. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and think about how you would feel at each step. Are you being respectful or realistic of their time? Internally, make sure those steps in the process have a purpose, and if it is an involved process, you should be able to easily explain it to the candidate along with why each step exists. This is a big one, too many companies are running candidates through a lengthy process (multiple tests, meeting after meeting with a never-ending list of personnel, huge gaps of time between steps) just because it is “what they’ve always done.” Don’t be a dinosaur—they are extinct after all. Any step should add value and knowledge to your company and the candidate.
Now that you have set expectations for the interview process, the other key piece is following through. If you said they would hear from you after 24 hours, don’t get back to them 2 or 3 days later. That follow-up leaves a definitive impression on whether your company means what they say. Don’t forget, any top talent is interviewing you, too!
Regardless of whether a hire is made, these individuals will tell others about their experience. Treat every potential with respect. It is a pretty simple thing when you get down to it. If you feel a candidate isn’t going to thrive or add the right value, don’t be afraid to tell them that—in a polite way. It could be your team already has enough leadership on the team and is really in need of a contributor. Any potential team member would rather a timely and honest answer that they are not the choice for this round. But what about next year’s team? If you leave them with a sour impression of your company and its process, you may not get the chance to recruit them in the future when they are the right fit.
Take a look at your process with an honest eye – ask the candidates what they thought of the experience. I have had too many top talent candidates turn down an interview because they have heard horror stories from friends and colleagues about how hard, taxing or wasteful the process is, and they don’t see any value. This could mean you miss out on a star that will set your team apart.
Bottom line, don’t let the candidate experience be the reason you can’t recruit the individual that will drive your team towards success!