The adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is sage advice. And there are two instances where failure to follow it is a certain deal breaker: first dates and job interviews. This wisdom applies to your company, as well as the candidate.
Think back to awful first dates--you know the ones where you seriously considered climbing out the restroom window? I’ll bet that one of three things happened: your date somehow misrepresented themselves, it was more work than it was worth, or it was just weird. I mean, who knew adults drank soup through straws? Awkward.
If you’ve ever experienced a bad job interview with a company who misrepresented who they were during the recruiting process, you know it feels a lot like a failed first date. What’s even worse is when they think it went well. Could your organization be blissfully unaware that your candidates are engineering houseplant emergencies to escape the clutches of your ho-hum interview room?
Not Being What You Say You Are
The rage in recruiting is employer branding and rightly so. If done well, it can give you a competitive advantage and attract the caliber of talent the business needs. If done poorly candidates can feel oversold or duped—much like when your aunt set you up with that ‘handsome’ man she met at the dog park who oddly resembled her dog.
Imagine being a candidate sold on a fun and collaborative culture only to suffer a six-hour interview in a windowless, beige conference room with broken chairs and a parade of interviewers who clearly had ‘more important’ things to do. The gap between the brand promise of modern and innovative versus the mundane and flat candidate experience is too great to reconcile.
This delta can leave candidates feeling your organization is not who you say you are, which erodes trust. Not a great start. In fact, Brian Bules from GSK said his organization is focused on keeping their employer branding and messaging consistent across channels, because candidates often look for inconsistencies.
So, how might your company be creating inconsistencies between message and reality during your recruiting process?
You Are More Work Than Reward
Often organizations end up with application processes created by exceptions, internal needs or technology limitations. That may mean a candidate must complete four separate applications for four similar jobs. Or they’re asked for way too much information, leaving them struggling on your mobile site for ten minutes – if they last that long. Perhaps you have so many interviewers that applicants must cash in three separate vacation days to meet with everyone – only to wait two months while you gather feedback from the horde.
At some point, candidates become frustrated and abandon the process. Depending on their frustration level, they may take it to Glassdoor. In the end, you are left at a table-for-one and starting from scratch—this time with the added challenge of negative feedback. Learn how to become a candidate’s first choice, not last.
Well… That’s Just Weird
One of the benefits of having a teenage son is that I get to learn new terms. The latest one is ‘ghosting.’ You know when candidates drop off the face of the earth? Yeah? Well, you have been ghosted. Often this happens when something is just weird.
It can be something as simple as miscommunication about time, location or process. Once I went on an interview and the paperwork had been switched. Instead of marketing questions, they kept inquiring about my experience managing customer service. After 20 minutes of awkward exchanges, we finally realized the problem. However, the next time the recruiter phoned me, I was nowhere to be found. Yes, I ghosted.
The lesson: prepare your recruiting and interviewing teams for how to effectively communicate with each candidate throughout the recruiting process.
Avoiding the Disappearing Candidate
To ensure you don’t have these scenarios, ask candidates for real feedback on their experience. And frequently do an audit of your recruiting process, with an eye for what it is like for the candidate.
Does their experience match your employer brand? Does the space tell your story? Do your people exemplify your brand and values, and exhibit that to candidates in behavior or examples?
As you go through your process, think about how much effort it is. How much did the candidate work to apply or interview? One of the measures most highly correlated to customer loyalty is Customer Effort Score. Focus on this when evaluating the candidate experience.
Finally, just don’t be weird. Think about your candidate experience as an outsider. Things that make perfect sense to you because you know the internal background, may be off-putting for candidates. Also, remember you may not get candid feedback from an applicant during the process—they want to impress you. Capture their thoughts once you’ve made the offer or an alternate decision. It’s much better than reading them on Glassdoor later.