It doesn’t take long to find stories from job hunters about how they were treated badly by a potential employer, such as:
- The hiring manager who took a personal call during the interview and used the applicant’s resume to jot down notes about home renovations.
- A job candidate who was kept waiting for more than an hour, then offered no apology or excuse.
- The hiring manager who opened the interview with: “So, who are you again?”
Unfortunately, there are plenty more horror stories out there, and all you have to do is look on Twitter or Facebook to find them. And that’s the real key here – angry and frustrated job seekers are no longer just complaining to their families about being poorly treated by employers – they’re broadcasting it to the universe. Websites devoted to criticism of employers and their hiring practices are thriving.
What that means is that the hiring manager who keeps a job candidate cooling his or her heels for an hour with no explanation or apology may find the company being raked over the coals online. At a time when competition is so tough, a company brand can be trashed quickly, and that’s something no company desires as it tries to attract and retain customers.
On the flip side, if a candidate experience is positive – even if the person doesn’t get the job – you may just have that person singing the company’s praises online. At the very least, the candidate (who may also be a customer) won’t leave in a huff for the competition and encourage other customers to do the same.
Here are some ways managers can improve the candidate experience:
- Respond to applicants. Nearly 44 percent of job seekers report they did not hear back from an employer after applying and now have a worse opinion of that company, finds a CareerBuilder survey. A separate study found that nearly one-third of applicants say they are less likely to purchase a product from a company that was unresponsive when they applied. The bottom line? Respond to applicants, even if it’s an automatically generated message saying the application was received. Consider posting status updates about a job so that applicants know if it has been filled, is no longer open or when a hiring decision may be made.
- Try it out. Have someone apply for a job at your company and give you feedback on the process. Was the process easy or did it take nearly an hour and ask stupid and repetitive questions? Quiz applicants when they come in for an interview about what they liked or didn’t like about the process. This shows you care what they think and will go a long way toward establishing good will with the person, even if an offer isn’t made.
- Be respectful. Job seekers are advised constantly that they must dress professionally, speak well, be on time, be knowledgeable and be engaging. The same should be true for interviewers. They should be familiar with the candidate’s resume before an interview, have questions prepared, be on time and provide the person with undivided attention. The CareerBuilder survey found that 56 percent of employers report a job candidate turned down an offer last year, and the candidate experience is believed to play a large part in those not accepting offers. Some 15 percent of job candidates said they had a worse opinion of the employer after they were contacted for an interview, the survey found.
Right now, there are so many qualified job candidates that managers may be overwhelmed and not respond to all the applications or try to fully engage job candidates during interviews. But that’s a short-sighted attitude that can come back to haunt a company when applicants begin to criticize the company online and influence others to do the same. A manager’s success if often tied to the bottom line – and mistreating job seekers may just hurt the company’s success – and the manager’s.
What other practices should managers follow to improve the job application and interview process?