The one with some candidate feedback

One thing has occurred to me of late. In all the discussions on the candidate experience very few people are actually speaking to candidates. Recruiters the world over are marvelling in their new found technology and boldly driving operational performance but without really listening to a key stakeholder in their endeavours.

Is this wrong? Well, it’s certainly not right and with all the talk, effort and money that goes into recruiting it does strike me as slightly odd. You can’t buy anything from most companies without some form of survey, e-mail follow up or request for feedback but try and ‘buy’ a job from the same people and they seemingly don’t really mind what you think.

So having been through the ‘pride swallowing siege’ I thought actually I would provide some feedback and given my background has included some significant work in recruiting that could actually form insight (maybe). I realise that in presenting my data that it is entirely subjective but if this stuff happened to me I imagine it’s happening to others.

If having read this you think I’m talking nonsense then that’s great – you are amongst the enlightened who have driven a focus on the candidate experience but if even one of these points resonates with you then I hope that helps you think about what you and your organisation do in the future.


a) With one exception these are not directed specifically at internal or external recruiters but both

b) This is a long post – get comfy, hope your train is delayed or read it in stages!

1. Bad news is better than no news

The deafening silence is dreadful and at worst an automated e-mail saying ‘you haven’t been successful’ is better than realising you haven’t progressed because a new millennium has dawned. Giving people bad news sucks (I know) but giving them no news is worse!

2. One Year to a recruiter is like Seven Years to a candidate

No I don’t think candidates are dogs! But you want candidates who are vested in your organisation and mustard keen to join. Don’t dampen that by making them wait weeks between communication/stages and making that enthusiasm wane to the point that they simply stop caring.

3. Feedback: if you give it, make it real

‘We have other candidates who more closely meet the brief’ and then the job is reposted everywhere within 48 hours. There are others and they DO happen. If you take the trouble to give a reason then make it a real one

4. Hurry Up & Wait Around

A phrase stolen from film making but remember how keen you are to get hold of the CV and the levers you pull to get the applicant….then nothing….nada. If set a tone of urgency – maintain it, or at least manage a slow down

5. Your Call is important to us

Whilst I loathe hold music at least it tells me my call is still connected and whilst it doesn’t endear me any further to the brand it certainly doesn’t put me off. Think about how you can keep assuring your candidate that their application is important to you and they are still involved in your process

6. Do what you say you’re going to do

“I’ll call you on Wednesday” not a difficult thing to do, or if Wednesday no longer fits not a difficult thing to reschedule. If you say you are going to do something JUST DO IT (The Nike Rule)

7. Money doesn’t grow on trees

To any candidate pursuing a role is likely coming out of their own pocket. Whether they are currently employed or not that money will not grow on trees and whilst you are trying to manage loads of diaries and managers please bear in mind that £40 train ticket costs, yes, £40 and if there are 4 stages which result in no job offer and at times no feedback then that does not reflect well on your organisation

8. Unicorns are fictional

Don’t try and recruit Unicorns – they don’t exist. If you’re an internal recruitment manager you need to push back more, if you’re an external consultant you need to challenge your client more.

9. Don’t confuse experience with ability

Yes we all love a good example of when someone has done something before and yes it’s a valid approach to part of your process but just because someone hasn’t done something before doesn’t mean they won’t be able to. If you rely solely on experience you may have a Unicorn problem!

10. Candidates will become customers

From my experience the candidate is NOT the customer (it’s a recruitment manager or a hiring manager) but whether you be a consultant and want to continue to recruit in this space or a company who sells its product or services just remember that at some point (and maybe already) your candidate is ALSO your customer

11. Ask them what they think and give them a route to whinge

Service improves for a variety of reasons but poor scores and negative feedback are amongst them. Try asking for some or at least giving your candidates a route to share some – with you rather than the rest of their network. I didn’t come across it but does anyone use a net promoter score for candidates? In this age of social referral surely ‘would you recommend us?’ is a powerful question to candidates.

12. Reputation is EVERYTHING

You know this – you’ve read so much stuff about EVP and employer brands but referral schemes always start with employees. What are your candidates saying to each other? How are you perceived in the market place? Your employees are already drinking the kool-aid, what about the potentials?

And finally the one that is specifically focussed at internal recruiters:

12a. Don’t vilify recruitment consultants

Like all service providers there are the good, the bad and the ugly. If you are working with the latter two categories –change. If you are lucky enough to work with people in the first category help them add value to your business, make them your partners and don’t slag them off at every given opportunity. There are some very good recruitment consultants operating out there and I have seen some that I can certainly learn some lessons from in various aspects of their process – maybe I’m not the only one.

Anyway, enough of the feedback/insight (for now). To all of the great people who I worked with during my job search, thank you very much and to the rest (and you probably don’t know who you are) I hope I’ve given you at least one piece of information to stimulate you doing something different

[I also wrote a rather tongue in cheek view of my perceptions of the candidate experience which you can find here]



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6 responses to “The one with some candidate feedback

  1. Jacob Sten Madsen

    Good post as usual Rob, enjoyable read, thank you despite new job obligations for keeping blog running.
    So who is it that sits behind the lines and ensures that all these subjects gets seen to and adhered to? It is the manager/lead/director you name it that has the responsibility for all this, and it is therein that failings and lack of professionalism occur. It is them that set the culture, the scene, the level of service and best practice, – and it is them that so utterly fail and let people down.
    This subject is huge and will neither diminish or go away, only become more and more an issue, and only those that embrace the importance of it, those that understand it and those that do something about it will go away with the best and most motivated candidates, – the rest will have to pick up the pieces. Elsewhere there is a post talking about ‘the war for talent’ it is alive and well and we will over the coming time see this intensify and develop, why only those managers/leaders etc that truly understand the impact and importance of this will be the ones that will prosper!!

  2. Shane

    Great post Rob, and all relevent comments.

    I agree communication is the key. The sad state of affairs is that candidates don’t expect regular contact and when you do what you say and follow up and offer advice they are generally suprised! Also I meet many clients that are tied into PSL’s and are vocal of their disatisfaction with the service they get, but continue to use them. The market is changing and the businesses that offer the highest levels of service will win through.

  3. Great article Rob. This stuff should be talked about more if we really are going to be able to give candidates the “experience” they desire.

  4. Nice post Rob. You might enjoy my recent post on the subject as well.

  5. Pingback: Dear Bureaucracy « Thinking About Learning

  6. Pingback: The One With Some Candidate Feedback - MonsterThinking UK | MonsterThinking UK

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