An Honest Look at What Job Candidates Really Want

Apr 16, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Fragile handle with careEvery few months here on ERE, some author writes an article discussing the “candidate experience,” or as I prefer to call it: the “c words”: candidate care. As a contract recruiter, I’m very frequently a candidate, so while I’m just one person, I’m very familiar with this side of the process, so let me discuss the candidate’s perspective.

Social Network Recruiting and Talent Communities

As a candidate, if I see a job which looks good, I don’t want to “engage” or “develop a relationship” with some perky pseudo-recruiter. I want to get hired now. If you’re one of those rare companies that actually plans for hires down the road, then tell me when you’re looking to hire me, for what position(s), and what I have to do to get ready to be hired at that time. Also, if it’s not going to get me work or money, (preferably very soon), I don’t want to hear your corporate-marketing “B.S.”

Your Positions — I Find ‘Em, You Send ‘Em

  • If I see one of your positions on your site or elsewhere (maybe you sent it to me), it should take no more than 90 seconds to find the job I want, and no more than 90 seconds to apply to it, preferably with an easy resume upload like Jobvite’s. If it were mobile, I’d want my application to be dropping and dragging my resume over an active area specific to the job or to the company’s overall job application section, and that’s it. Also, if you’re sending me a position, make sure it has some relevance to me; each day I get probably close to a dozen listings for the types of jobs that I recruit for, and not for recruiter jobs. (If you want me to spend considerably more time filling out information, taking an assessment, doing preliminary work for you, etc. that’s fine; just let me know that if I do this for you to your satisfaction, it will get me a face-to-face interview within a very few business days).
  • I’d want immediate notification of application.
  • I’d want “in or out” notification to the next stage (telling me what the next stage is) within two business days, and that next stage should take place in no longer than one week and ideally less.

Telephone Interview:

  • It should be 15-45 minutes, and you should let me know in advance what it will be for (technical/professional info, cultural fit, etc.).
  • You should give me a day to prepare unless it’s specifically a “phone meet-and-greet” type of basic introduction.
  • I’d want ”in-or-out” notification to the face-to face or video interview stage within two business days, and that next stage should take no longer than one week. Ideally less.

Face-to-Face Interview

  • With rare exceptions, it shouldn’t be more than two to three hours, with three to five interviewers who interview me. (If it takes your team longer than that to tell if I can do the job, then they don’t know how to properly interview.)
  • Make me feel like a special and important guest:
    • Be completely prepared for me — don’t keep me waiting.
    • Don’t have me fill out a paper application at this point.
    • Try and sell me on your position and company, and I’ll try and sell you on me.
    • Don’t be arrogant jerks.
    • Don’t waste my time; if I’m “out,” don’t have me go through the whole interview team. If I’m in, tell me I’ll know with one week (with some exceptions) if I go on to the next step and let me know what that next step should be and how soon that will be. (Typically, no more than two rounds of interviews.)

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 12.59.23 PMIn Between and Ongoing

I want to be able to easily track my continuing status online (including mobile), and if I have questions, there is a toll-free number to a virtual candidate care assistant who can help me with whatever I need to find out, in real-time if possible, and no more than one business day if not. This virtual assistant’s deliverables are to make sure that each and every candidate from entry-level grad through the highest executive has a pleasant application process, so that even if they don’t get the job, they’ll tell all their friends to apply because of how well they were treated.

Forget the Above: Employers Don’t Care

The great majority of employers don’t care about the candidate experience. They don’t have to care. If they’re not an “employer of choice” and looking for the “fabulous 5 percent,” then they can treat people any old way they please, and the people will line up for more. Employers of choice are particularly known for this sort of thing, because they can treat almost everybody badly and still get the pick of the litter.

I said this a couple of months ago:

I’m putting out a challenge to the staffing managers, directors, and VPs out there reading this: if you’re sincerely interested in fixing your candidate care, let me know off line. If you’re not a manager, etc. but you think your manager, etc. would be interested in really doing something: forward this on to them, I’ll let people know in my column what I’ve found about who “walks their talk.”

Not one responded; not even the winners of the “Candidate Experience Awards” wanted to follow up here on ERE and elaborate for the rest of us. So, folks: I’d like to proclaim this a dead issue, and would appreciate no more “Isn’t the Candidate Experience Bad?” articles, or “I treat all my candidates well” statements. We’re years past that being relevant or useful. You want to talk about the “c-words”? Well then: tell us what you’ve done or are doing to make bad candidate care decent, decent candidate care good, or good care great. Extra points for how you overcame the apathy or resistance of the arrogant and privileged folks at the top of the corporate food chain. Show me that you care.


photo from bigstock, for only

This article is part of a series called Opinion.