How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Aug 28, 2014

From helpful advice to foreboding warnings, job seekers hear countless dos and don’ts when it comes to applying to, interviewing for, and nailing down a job. It makes sense: we’ve all been through the process, and chances are, we’ll all do it again. Having a plan in place — and a backup plan, in some cases — is not only helpful, but strategic when on the job hunt.

But with all these words of encouragement floating around for job seekers, the same kind of advice simply doesn’t exist for recruiters. As a result, it’s easy to mess up. The initial candidate experience is a crucial piece of long-term talent relationships that are developed during the hiring process. If we don’t get it right, we run the risk of losing a potentially successful hire. Here’s a look at how 10 short days and a few wrong turns can quickly send a candidate running for the hills, and how you can avoid these issues and make your talent search a success.

Day 1: You post an inaccurate job description.

When the engineering department sends you the requirements for an open position, what’s the harm in embellishing a little? The answer: a lot. All inaccuracies will catch up with you in the end, which doesn’t come across favorably to candidates. Plus, if you’re not up front about exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll simply end up with ill-fitting employees down the line.

Double-check job requirements before posting, and ensure you’re communicating job requirements clearly to avoid any misunderstandings. Finding out whether a candidate is fully equipped to fill a position early on saves everyone’s time.

Day 2: You decline to respond. 

While it’s easy to ignore comments on Facebook or LinkedIn, word of mouth matters at every step of the interview process. We live in a socially networked world, and comments can quickly turn from gossip to reputation. As an external face of your company, that’s something you should be working hard to protect. Plus, for millennial job seekers, appearing out of touch on social media could be deterring.

Don’t lose sight of your company’s brand. Take your social media channels seriously, answering as many inquiries as possible. Who knows? That Facebook comment asking for more information could be your next successful hire.

Day 3: You create a scheduling nightmare.

Once you’ve gotten past the initial task of finding quality candidates to interview, scheduling time for interviews becomes next on the list. But with so many candidates and so little time, canceling and rescheduling is expected — right?

Avoid disorganization and inconvenience. If the process becomes too difficult, talent will undoubtedly lose interest. Take advantage of your ATS for added organization, or conduct remote interviews via phone or video. Simplify the process on both ends, and your candidates will thank you for it.

Day 4: You make candidates wait on you.

Running behind to interview is inevitable. It happens. But just as with inadequate scheduling practices, making people wait illustrates poor organizational skills, a lack of preparation and general disinterest. Don’t turn a candidate off even before you’ve had the chance to speak with them.

It all boils down to respect. Be conscious of time. After all, this is still the courting period, so work to accommodate their schedules — not the other way around.

Day 5: You provide useless and vague information. 

Candidates come to interviews prepared, oftentimes with questions that they’d like answers to. If they’re going to be a good fit for your company, potential employees will want to know as soon as possible. But if you can’t answer questions about who they’ll report to or what it’s like to work in the engineering department, who will?

Make sure you’re providing candidates with essential information during interviews. Specifics are important, and details do matter. If they’re asking a question, odds are it’s for a reason. Stay away from vague descriptions and hone in on what matters to them.

Day 6: You make jobs hard to find. 

Over 40 percent of job seekers have used a mobile device to search for jobs, and 37 percent expect to apply directly from their smartphones. Today’s most innovative companies must strive to cater to the plugged in workforce, and that starts with ensuring that your jobs are easily found on mobile. Do your research, and run some tests. If a candidate can’t act on the impulse to apply when they want to, they’ll simply move on.

Day 7: You cross the line.

Let’s face it: we live in the age of social media. Emoticons, friend requests, and chatting have all become the norm — but not between recruiters and candidates. Even as our world becomes more casual and more connected, a line must be preserved, and never crossed.

Professionalism is key. Remain appropriate, particularly on social channels, and forego that Facebook friend request. Keep your social media posts and emails limited to a brand voice, and let your company speak for itself.

Day 8: You present an arrogant front. 

As a recruiter, it’s your job to prove to candidates that they will be valued as people, far and above the skills that they bring to the table. However, when candidates meet with higher ups and executives, it’s not hard to imagine the pressure. Making the interview experience as down-to-earth as possible is the best way to keep candidates engaged. At the end of it all, you want everyone you bring in to be willing to join you, so you can simply choose the best match. Don’t inadvertently scare someone away.

Day 9: You don’t call anyone back. 

While it’s natural to prioritize communicating with the candidates that you see a future with, no one likes to be left hanging. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day processes, but if someone didn’t make the cut, they deserve to know. It’s respectful protocol, and who knows where they’ll reappear down the line?

Keep track of candidates and stay on top of callback promises. Even a passive job seeker will move on to other interviews if you’ve piqued his interest and then waited too long to act.

Day 10: You love your outdated technology.

We can all be old-school about some things. But just as “there’s an app” for almost everything now, slow processes and outdated methods aren’t acceptable. Excel spreadsheets and handwritten notes simply won’t make the cut anymore. Plus, how can your company claim to keep up with the world we live in if your internal processes don’t reflect it?

To keep the process moving, stay up to date. Remember, now that the next-generation workforce has begun the job hunting process, staying cutting-edge is key to wooing younger candidates.

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