The hiring process can be frustrating for everyone involved. On the employer’s side of things, hiring managers are consistently experiencing difficulty in finding candidates who are qualified for their company’s most important positions. These candidate searches routinely stretch over 30 days and the extreme cases are measured in months or even quarters of the business year.
For candidates, frustrations with the application process can begin before they’re even done applying for a job. According to a survey from Jibe Inc. 60% of candidates feel that job applications are more challenging to fill out than other common types of applications, including applications for a mortgage (48 percent), health insurance (46 percent), or a student loan (32 percent).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, 19% of respondents said they would rather spend a day in line at the DMV than go through the pain of applying for a job online, while 12% would rather get a root canal or go skydiving without training.
According to the same Jibe survey, candidates describe their job search as:
- Time-consuming (80%)
- Stressful (78%)
- Discouraging (71%)
- Painful (60%)
Is this the association that you want applicants to have with your company? That it’s a time-consuming, stressful, discouraging and painful place to work?
While this might not be an accurate or fair picture of your company, a candidate’s impression of your company is determined by their application experience, and little else. If the only experience they have with your company is negative, a faulty online application, for instance, then their overall impression of your company and employer brand will also be negative. Even if you’ve been nothing but friendly with your applicants, procedural inefficiencies and poor communication practices will be enough to tarnish their view of your company.
If the procedures of your hiring process are driving candidates crazy, then your ability to close with top candidates and hire them will be harmed. Further, providing a consistently negative application process will hurt your employer brand, as dissatisfied applicants head to Glassdoor to vent their frustrations.
Here are 5 things that routinely drive candidates crazy in the application process. To ensure that all of your applicants have a positive impression of your company, avoid these common practices that drive candidates up the wall.
1. Extended Waits for Updates in the Selection Process
Uncertainty is one of the most unpleasant feelings that you can experience. Torn between one outcome and another, candidates are left in a state of limbo as they wait to see if they will advance in the selection process.
The application process is inherently uncertain, but candidates aren’t frustrated by the competition. Candidates are upset when, after giving their all in an interview or writing a heart-felt cover letter, they receive no update on their status in the selection process.
A majority of job seekers (51%) expect to be informed about the status of their application, but only 14% report actually receiving that information during their job search. Failing to reply to the flood of initial applicants is one thing, but mismanaging candidates after they’ve entered the interview stage is a far greater error.
According to the CareerBuilder 2015 Candidate Behavior Study, 69% of job seekers said they were less likely to buy a company’s product if they had a negative interview experience. If your candidates are left in this unpleasant state of uncertainty for too long or too often, then all your hiring function is doing for you is turning interested professionals against your brand.
However, when candidates had a positive application experience, they were actually more likely to buy the company’s product. According to the same CareerBuilder survey, 69% of candidates say they are more likely to buy from a company who treated them with respect during the application process.
- Stay in Touch: Never let a full week pass without updating your candidates. If a high volume of candidates or an irregular interview schedule would keep you from communicating from a candidate, don’t. Instead, tell them that there is a delay and when they can expect to hear news on their status.
- Screen Decisively: Your interview schedule should always be created with the time of your applicants in mind. The longer you spend making your screening decisions, the longer your top choices for the job are left uncertain. In this vulnerable state, your candidates will be more open to counter-offers from their employer or job offers from your competitors.
2. Interviews that Waste Time
Nobody likes feeling like their time is being wasted. The interview process can be time consuming, but there’s a big difference between thorough screening and wasting time. This difference lies in how engaged the candidate can be in the process, specifically, if they feel like they keep answering the same questions for different people.
When there are multiple interviewers screening your applicants, you need to be sure that each of these interviewers is covering a different aspect of the job in their interviews. If candidates find themselves answering the same questions over and over, they will become frustrated and see it as a sign of disorganization in the company. Worse still, they may believe that nobody cares enough about their answers to take note of them.
- Divide and Conquer: At no point should any of your interviewers overlap. Each interviewer should be evaluating a different area of each candidate’s expertise for the most efficient, candidate-friendly process possible.
- Compare Notes: Your interviewing team should meet throughout the selection process to ensure that there is no interview overlap and to compare notes on candidates. By using these communication best practices, you will be able to provide an engaging interview process and hone in on promising candidates earlier in the selection process.
3. Using Clunky Hiring Tech
Technology can be a great asset to improving upon your hiring process. Online Application Portals, Applicant Tracking Systems and Candidate Pre-Screening can save a great deal of time for the hiring team, but should never come at the cost of the candidate experience.
According to a survey conducted by Jibe, Job seekers would most likely be deterred from completing online applications if they encountered tech hurdles (60%), couldn’t upload their resumes (55%), or couldn’t follow up on their application’s status (44%).
No matter what it says on the box, if the tech involved in your hiring process is aggravating candidates, it isn’t working for you as well as you think.
- Make Sure it Works: You should never use technology for the sake of using technology. In order to ensure that the tech supporting your hiring is actually working for you, try applying to your open job though the platform that your company is using.
- How long does the process take?
- Did you find yourself becoming frustrated by the process?
- Did you experience any benefits from this application method?
4. A lack of knowledge about the Job
Nothing looks worse to candidates than when an interviewer doesn’t know the first thing about the job they’re hiring for. If a candidate is excited about the position and comes to the interview with dozens of insightful questions, the last thing you want is for them to leave confused and disappointed.
Interviewers should make it their mission to become an expert on the job they’re trying to fill. Other than providing candidates with critical information about the job, hiring managers who are more familiar with the job will always have a better chance of making a great hire. Even if it requires collaboration with several expert employees, getting a full understanding of the job and the skills required to do it, will always result in a better hire.
- Create a Candidate Profile: With the help of some of your expert employees, create a skill and experience profile for the best person for the job. This way, when a candidate asks a technical question about the work or the tools they’ll be using, you have a specific, clear answer for them.
- Find Help: If you are hiring for a highly technical position, or just one you are unfamiliar with, you should always try to find someone with an intimate understanding of the job. Incorporating their expertise into your interviewing materials will make these materials far more effective. In addition, these technically minded employees can be a great asset for the interviews themselves. By sitting in on interviews, they can engage candidates with tantalizing technical details about the job and the work being done.
5. Indirect Answers to Simple Questions
When you’re asking a simple question, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting an evasive or vague answer in return. While there is some information that cannot be discussed with a candidate, being evasive or indirect with candidates will always make them suspicious.
“Why should they be so evasive about the compensation for this position? Is it because it’s lower than average?” they may wonder. When candidates receive indirect answers to simple questions, it leads them to that same, unpleasant state of uncertainty. Where they might have been totally confident in the position as a great job opportunity, encountering too much hemming and hawing will make candidates wary of your offer.
- High Transparency: While you may be legally bound from releasing certain information to candidates, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be up-front about it. If you can’t tell them about the compensation for the job, yet, tell them when you’ll be able to tell them.
- Build Trust: If your candidates don’t trust you, you’re going to have a hell of a time hiring them. Building trust with candidates is easy, but it’s just as easy to break. By practicing transparent, high touch candidate management, you can stand out from the crowd as the straight shooter that everyone wants to work for.
Though they could one day be part of your company, applicants have no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt. A single bad interview can ensure that your favorite candidate for the job, wants nothing to do with your company. Today, candidates are applying the same scrutiny to employers as employers have traditionally applied on candidates. That being the case, employers need to focus on providing a quick, painless and candidate friendly application process. Providing anything else will drive your applicants crazy, and the ones with options elsewhere will use them.
If you can avoid these common hiring pitfalls and provide a great application experience, your hiring function will be continuously contributing to a stronger employer brand for your company.