We’ve all seen the reports and stories of companies struggling to hire, with candidates ghosting companies and rejecting offers. But for all of the hand-wringing and wild conjecture about why this is happening, the vast majority of companies are not accessing the two groups of people who could quickly solve these problems.
In the Leadership IQ study “Why New Hires Fail,” we took a deep look at companies’ recruiting practices. Among the disturbing findings was that 85% of employers are not gathering feedback about the recruiting process from candidates who rejected an offer.
There’s an old concept in sales that suggests that the best source of market intelligence isn’t from your customers but rather from the people who chose to go with a competitor. Similarly, in talent acquisition, one of the best sources of candid feedback about your company’s recruiting process will come from the people who rejected your offer.
But in our study, only 15% of HR executives said their company frequently or very frequently gathers that feedback. By contrast, 63% said they rarely or very rarely gather that information.
If we’re truly interested in discovering why candidates are turning down our job offers, can you think of a better source of data than the people who rejected the offer? Thinking back to the sales analogy, any good sales executive will tell you that if you lose 10 deals in a row, you had better put a full-court press on nicely asking those prospects why they chose the competition.
Now, a legitimate comeback to this would be that if candidates are regularly ghosting us, we’re unlikely to gather enough data to discover the real reasons they rejected our offers. But while that’s true, there is another group of people who could provide a much-needed evaluation of our recruiting process: new hires.
Having recently experienced your actual process, new hires are uniquely positioned to assess your organization’’s recruiting efforts. And yet, even though new hires are the group of people most likely to respond to every question you ask, only 26% of companies are frequently or very frequently gathering feedback from them. Meanwhile, 74% are very rarely, rarely, or occasionally gathering that feedback.
The process of gathering powerful feedback doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, the simpler your process, the more data you’ll get and the faster you’ll get it. To that end, after a new hire has started their job, have someone reach out to them and say the following:
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“We’re so excited to have you here, and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to help us. We’re going through an effort to really improve candidates’ experiences as they go through our recruiting process. Could you share one thing that would have made your experience better?”
There’s quite a bit of subtlety in that brief script, so let’s dissect it. First, you want to start this script by telling your new hire how happy you are that they’ve joined the company. Make it friendly and upbeat because new hires are often a bit nervous, and the last thing they want to do is start critiquing the company they just joined.
Second, be sure to tell them how helpful their feedback will be. If they feel like they’re just critiquing your recruiting process or, worse, giving an evaluation of the person who recruited them, they’re unlikely to offer pointed feedback.
Third, and most important, don’t ask for a laundry list of recommendations; ask for “one thing that would have made your experience better.” Ironically, when you ask someone to provide a list of things they’d like to see improved, it can feel so overwhelming that they don’t know where to start. And when that happens, they often come up empty. But when you ask for only one thing, it greatly reduces the pressure on the respondent, and they’ll generally offer far more actionable feedback.
Finally, make sure that the person asking this question is not the same person who did the recruiting. It could get awkward quickly if a brand new hire feels like they’re being asked to critique the person who recruited them.