Can you hear me now?

There are countless articles on how to prepare for and conduct a better interview as a candidate. In fact, I’ve added to the trove over time with my own salient advice. And it is helpful to review this material should you be on the interview trail so have at it.

Yet, we don’t often write about the responsibility of the firm towards candidates, or, the so-called candidate-experience. But it matters. Let me show you why.

First, let’s focus on those active candidates who have gotten to the actual interview phase. Beyond the initial interest form and the first phone-screening there is a significant chasm to get to the point where people want to talk to you face to face. This is serious time now for the company as they’re investing resources, but its important to the candidate too: we’re taking time out to either Skype into an interview or perhaps drive to a new location for a face-face. And for high-level roles we may take a day or more out of our schedule to travel cross country.

This is a big deal.

Recently I found myself in this process with two different firms in similar sectors and about the same size. In both cases the head of HR was driving the process.

In the first instance the response of the firm following screening call, first interview and second was timely. They treated the process with due diligence and I was scheduled for the final interview with the C-team. Yet, I noticed a curious silence after the last interviews: now more than a week on from my last contact I’ve received no response to either my thank you notes or update about my candidacy.

Its as if they just stopped.

In days of old I’d blame myself looking for the point at which I’d “bombed” the interview but with age comes wisdom Grasshopper: I aced the interview and felt good about being authentic and a solid fit for the role. They just don’t know how to close the loop.

Case two couldn’t have been more different.

Yes, the responsiveness was high all the way through, and the interviews went well. But where company two differed is that they outlined their schedule, who would contact me and when, and what the steps in the process would be. They have met every gate they set out as a threshold and reactions following interviews were always same day. I know exactly where I stand with them. Is that not professional? Should that not be expected?

I recognize the sheer volume of interest afforded in the digital age cannot be answered personally: I don’t think anyone expects that. But once a candidate moves into the actual interview process keeping that candidate informed of their status and of the overall process is simply good practice. Its talent management 101. And here’s where we need to get serious about the candidate experience.

The way you handle communications and customer care – and get this straight right now, active candidates are customers – says a lot about you as a potential employer. Dropping the ball, failing to communicate or simply being unclear does not set you up well.

The bottom line is this: if you want the best talent, you are going to have to be seen as one of the best employers. Get your process clarified and in place, and hold your team responsible to execute. No follow up is no fair, and you will lose the people you really want – and need – if you don’t understand and correct this.


One thought on “Follow-up

  1. Unfortunately, your poor experience sounds all too familiar. I had one company calling me on vacation to schedule one of my rounds of interviews and then had weeks of waiting between updates. (I dropped out of their interview process).

    It’s absolutely an indicator of company culture. If this is how they treat their candidates, how do they treat their employees?

    Curious – did you accept a position with either org?

    ~ Alli

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