How to Treat Candidates Throughout the Hiring Process

Job candidates talk a lot. Whatever experience they’ve had with a company – good or bad, successful or unsuccessful – chances are good that person will relay it to their friends, family and potentially in the very public sphere of social media.

At the T2 Talent Tomorrow pre-conference in Washington, D.C., Craig Fisher (@fishdogs), Founder of Talent Net Live, moderated a panel discussion about how companies and recruiters handle candidates once a position is filled. On the panel:

Using a series of silly assumed names, such as Vinnie Boombatz, Kris Kringle, and Charlie Brown, Gerry Crispin applied for jobs at 100 of the best companies to work for. Sadly, only 32 percent of the companies responded when the position was filled, meaning that a whopping 68 percent did nothing. That’s a bad candidate experience, Crispin says.

While he’s seen a lot of problems, Crispin doesn’t want to just beat up on companies. He has actually been working with other recruiters to recognize companies that have good hiring practices. While he didn’t pinpoint one company that got everything right, he was impressed by some specific hiring practices at Pepsi, Sage, RMS, and State Farm.

Other key takeaways from the T2 panel:

  • Candidates come in many different flavors, and as a result you need to treat them differently. How do you treat an unqualified candidate? How do you treat a finalist? How do you treat the person you hire? They’re all different and require different methods of approach.
  • It’s very important to understand how we treat the candidates that don’t get the job. They don’t belong in the Outbox or the trash bin. By simply treating them well, you have the opportunity to turn them into brand ambassadors.
  • Crispin said that corporations must realize there are consequences for the way they deal with candidates who don’t get the job. He did some additional research on rejected candidates beyond his personal experience during his “experiment.” Of rejected candidates, 45 percent got no response, 25 percent got an automated “Do not reply to this email” response. Of the 30 percent that received actual responses, the highest percentage were highly scripted, and a small percentage received a truly personal response.
  • Sometimes the situation around the hiring process needs to be more clear, such as creating an actual challenge. If the candidate doesn’t succeed at the challenge, then it’s clear why they didn’t get the job rather than a vague “You didn’t get the job/don’t reply” message.
  • 85 percent of candidates that come in for an interview have already done research about the company through social media, not just through the company website. As a company, you need to know what’s being said about you out there.
  • The real tools aren’t going to be the employers’ tools. It’s the social tools that are going to force the transparency. Recruiters need to be engaged in that conversation.
  • Part of the candidate experience is answering, “How has your workforce been empowered to engage?” Companies don’t and shouldn’t hide behind their brand anymore. Your people and your company culture is your brand. It’s not just your product and message, Fisher says.
  • The candidates themselves have connections within the company. Why not enhance a candidate’s ability to be referred? Crispin has seen websites with a referral button that provides a map to the staff, allowing individuals to work the referral process themselves. If one-third of all employees come in via referrals, why not share that statistic with potential candidates? That way, they can do their due diligence of making themselves more attractive and desirable to the hiring committee.
  • Most executives haven’t been through the application process at their own company and they have no idea what it’s like, Fisher says. One way to walk the talk is to actually apply for one of your jobs and try to understand what it’s like. But, Crispin says, most companies don’t do that.
  • Most recruiters search their own inbox rather than their company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) to find talent. Sadly, most ATS’ don’t live up to the job they’re supposed to do, Fisher says.
  • One panelist mentioned Hyatt as a good example, a company that is acutely aware that anyone they have a conversation with could also be a potential customer.
  • Companies who do onboarding well are comfortable with their own brand and identity. They suck their candidates into being part of the overall experience. Big companies like Nike do a great job, but there are small companies, like Sage, that do it well, too. Not only does Sage make a promise, but they actually deliver on that promise.
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