5 Reasons Hiring Processes Never Attract the Best People For Your Company
Every company needs to hire great people. But many companies can’t seem to find them. Maybe the problem doesn’t lie with the candidates – maybe you should consider the possibility that the problem could lie with you. Here are some ways your hiring processes may be driving away some of the best candidates:
1. You haven’t decided what you really need.
Job descriptions often include laundry lists of required attributes. The “perfect candidate” must possess an impossibly broad set of skills, qualities, credentials, experiences, etc. When you say you want too many things, that that doesn’t mean no one will apply; that means almost anyone will apply. (Why wouldn’t I? You clearly don’t know what you want… so why not take a chance that you want me?)
But you don’t really need all those things. If you could only pick one attribute, what would you choose as the most important skill or quality a great employee needs to have to succeed in the position? Maybe it’s attitude, or interpersonal skills, or teamwork, or a specific skill set… or maybe just likability. Whatever it is, that attribute is what you really need.
If the candidate brings that one thing to the table, great! Everything else you can train… or often even live without. (Take that superstar programmer who develops application after application after application; do you really care if his interpersonal skills are below average? Not if you’re smart.) Maybe you really need a manager who can improve productivity by 20%. Maybe you really need a developer who can take a product to market. Maybe you need a financial officer who can work through all the legal and accounting requirements of taking your company public. Whatever it is you really need, explain it. The perfect candidate won’t just say, “I can do that!” She’ll say, “I love to do that!”
2. You shoehorn in irrelevant qualifications.
Oftentimes qualifications are a proxy for a skill or attribute. Take college degrees; if a four-year degree is required… why is it required? What does a degree prove? If you need a mechanical engineer, then a degree does indicate a certain level of knowledge. But if you need a customer service rep, is a degree required? Oftentimes not – yet when you require one you automatically exclude some potentially awesome people.
The same is true with years of experience. Say you require “at least ten years of web design experience.” Smart companies don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.
Smart companies care about what you’ve done : how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done. Never use a qualification as a proxy for an achievement. Great employees achieve. Look for people who have shown they can (or have the potential) to achieve what you need.
3. You force candidates to jump through needless administrative hoops.
Say I already have a job. I like my job. But sometimes I look around to see what’s out there. And I see the perfect job for me. I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m going to apply! I go to your online application system. After one screen I’m still excited. After the second screen I’m a little less thrilled. After the third screen the bloom is off the rose. After the fourth screen I bail out. I like your job but I don’t need your job… and I definitely don’t need this.
In most cases cumbersome applications systems are designed to benefit the employer, not the potential employee. “Since we might need all this information,” the thinking goes, “let’s have the candidate fill it out so that it automatically imports into our database. That’ll make our jobs easier!” And it also makes lots of great people – especially those who already have jobs – decide not to apply.
Think of a job candidate as a customer. Do you make it hard for potential customers to do business with you? Of course not – you make it as easy as possible. Your application system should make it as easy as possible for all candidates — especially outstanding candidates — to apply. Just like customers, they don’t need you as much as you need them.
4. You play games during the process.
Many interviewers try to catch candidates off guard. (I’ve never understood this approach. Sure, sometimes people need to be able to think on their feet… but that trait is often overrated. Your employees are constantly required to think on their feet there’s something fundamentally wrong with you how run your business.) Some play the bait and switch interview game, telling the candidate ahead of time they will be talking to one person and then substituting another interviewer. Others unexpectedly introduce tests or exercises. And then there’s the “surprise” group interview.
Group interviews are convenient for lazy interviewers and terrifying for unsuspecting job candidates. Worse, you rarely get the candidate’s best, and then it’s easy for the interview team to fall into the group consensus black hole where everyone gravitates towards the same opinion. If you plan to hold group interviews, tell candidates ahead of time so they can prepare. If you plan to administer tests or exercises, tell the candidate ahead of time. (After all, you wouldn’t change job goals and expectations a week before you deliver performance evals, would you?) Let candidates know what to expect. It’s only fair.
5. You don’t follow up with every candidate.
Research indicates approximately 94% of the people who apply for a job never get closure. They don’t know whether they’re being considered, whether the job has been filled… they’re never told a thing. Not only is that rude, there are definite business repercussions. People talk, especially about bad experiences. And some of the people they talk to may be awesome candidates… who will never apply for a job with your company once they know how you treat people. (And the rest of the people they talk to could be potential customers.)
Before you post your next opening, determine how you will close the loop with everyone who applies. Maybe you’ll use an automated hiring and notification system. Maybe you’ll do it manually. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If nothing else just send a generic email thanking the candidate and letting them know you have other, more qualified candidates.
The tools you close the loop are not nearly as important as following up with every candidate in a prompt, courteous, and respectful way. And don’t say you don’t have the time to respond to everyone who applies. They’ve hung themselves out there, professionally and emotionally, by applying for a job with your company… so never leave them hanging.
By Jeff Haden
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