IT Employment optimize

Five things managers do that job candidates hate

For managers, the hiring process is, admittedly, a bear. But it's also time-consuming and arduous for job candidates. Here are five things you can do to make the experience more pleasant for those who apply to your open positions.

The hiring process is, admittedly, a bear for managers. It’s time-consuming and arduous. But enough about you. How do you think the job candidates feel? Because the process is all that for them too, as well as being pretty scary. Here are five things that job candidates wish you wouldn’t do during the hiring process.

1.  Already having an internal candidate in mind

I’ve worked at some companies that have a policy that every job opening has to involve interviewing external candidates even if you already have an internal candidate in mind. I’ve also worked at jobs that require managers to open a job to internal candidates even if they have no intention of hiring someone internally.

I know that companies are just trying to make sure they open things up to all the people they can in the hopes that they get the best person, but this still rankles if you’re someone looking for a job. You’re playing with people’s time and expectations.

2.  Waiting too long to let a job candidate know something

Waiting weeks and weeks for an answer is bad even if the answer is that you got the job. It’s pretty devastating when you find out that, after all the waiting, you don’t have the job.

Maybe you’re with one of those companies whose deciders take all that time because they’re striving with surgical precision to make the best possible decision. They want the best person and they also don’t want to waste money with a bad hire.

But you know and I know that the most common reasons for keeping candidates waiting is that

  1. You’re waiting to see how your real first choice works out before you let the others off the hook completely
  2. The decision to hire, and who to hire, has to go through corporate channels –a process that is slower than molasses in winter.

3.  Not letting a job candidate know if he or she did not get the position

If a job candidate doesn’t hear from a company at all, he or she knows they don’t have the job. But it’s still disappointing and disconcerting not to hear anything. Is this just laziness or rudeness on your part?

I will allow that you may just want to avoid any kind of unpleasant experience. After all, it’s not a lot of fun breaking that kind of news to someone.

Maybe you’re also concerned that  if you go into some detail about why a candidate didn’t get the job, you could be setting your company up for a lawsuit. I know of one instance when a woman applied for a job with several people from the company she presently worked for. The reply was that her qualifications were not up to par. Yet, that company hired several (male) employees who were a couple of levels below her at the current company and who were not as qualified as she was. She sued.

Still, there’s a way around that. Just send out a general notice like: “Thank you for showing interest in the (POSITION) with (COMPANY). This letter is to let you know that we have identified our finalist and will not be moving forward with your candidacy.” What’s so hard about that?

4.  Vague, misleading job descriptions

From the looks of some want ads I see, it looks like some companies use a boilerplate job description and just adds a few IT-related terms. But it would save a lot of time if you would just come right out and be specific. For example, instead of saying you’re seeking someone who has “experience with object-oriented JavaScript or programming,” (which could, in some minds, mean a person who once watched someone create a desktop widget), be specific: “Extensive knowledge of DOM scripting with native JavaScript and familiarity with JS frameworks such as jQuery or Mootools.” “Experience with...” is perhaps the vaguest, and most open to interpretation, phrase one could use. Try to avoid it.

5.  Interview process is too long

Is your company’s interview process so long that job candidates could qualify for HR benefits? And I’m not talking about all-day get-grilled-by-the-team-then-four-VPs kind of interview. I’m talking about one process that includes a fifth or sixth interview. For the guy who actually gets the job in the end, this is forgivable. Sort of like birthing a baby. But for the people who go through that long process only to be told they don’t have the job, it’s confusing and makes them question everything about themselves.

I know you’re seeking perfection, but I can tell you that there are some people who are just extremely good at interviewing and not doing the actual job. You’d like to think that by putting candidates through a process longer and more arduous than a Keeping up with the Kardashians marathon you’ll be able to spot the perfect person. Unfortunately, the effort does not always end that way.

Hiring is a big deal and it’s important to find the best candidate for a position. But there are things that you, as a manager, can do to make the process easier for those folks who are applying.

For more on this topic, see:



About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

25 comments
goedpaul
goedpaul

Unfortunately, since there are many more applicants than jobs for many of the technical fields, poor treatment of candidates will continue. I've had the same experiences as others during the interview process - how about 3 months after the initial interview, without a peep from the company, being contacted for another in-person interview, with appropriate apologies and promises I would be interviewed by the correct people the second time. They also indicated the people I originally dealt with in HR were "no longer there". It's a shame because I had the skills and experience to really help them, and I liked the community and location. When interviewing for my current employer, I interviewed with all the "right people" the first time, was given a tour of the community and residential areas with appropriately priced housing, and everyone went out of their way providing directions and making me feel wanted by giving me examples of how they intended to utilize my skills. 18 months after being hired, I had a serious illness (2 months in the hospital) and the support was phenomenal for myself and family. It was a warm fuzzy feeling when the CFO assured me my job was waiting when I was able to return, and I'm not even in a management position.

THAT is how candidates want to be treated, and that is what causes employees to have loyalty, even if they can make more money elsewhere. It's not a perfect job, but those intangibles make up for a lot.

m.y.s
m.y.s

I have seen all of the points in my latest job search, the "internal candidate" scenario especially. To add to the list, The Job That Doesn't Exist. I have been on interviews where the position the hiring manager describes & the skills he/she are looking for are very different from the published job description or info the headhunter had, thus throwing out the window most of the prep and practice you have done. You have to instantly adjust your answers while continuing to remain calm and focused.


I have had phone interviews that were rescheduled, one four times. Most often it's because of a crisis on their end. You can look at it as being inconsiderate and rude or you can take it as a positive, they really do need help.

b2btechcopy
b2btechcopy

Keep in mind that while the company is searching for the ideal candidate, the candidate is searching for the ideal job and company.  If a company or company officials engage in the article's behaviors, what impression do they give the candidate?  Both sides should be presenting the best they have to offer.

b2btechcopy
b2btechcopy

The thing to keep in mind is that while the company is looking for the ideal candidate, the candidate is looking for the ideal job and company.  If the company engages in the points made via the article, what kind of impression are they giving? 

BQRealityBites
BQRealityBites

Gotta say - I find it amusing the responses and even the tone of the argument basically taking the side of the employee - ie where someone below said 'sell the job to me" - 'make it more conveient for me so I don't have to read the whole thing", etc etc.  And those who "didn't get the job" who were upset complaining they'll never work for that company.  I ask you this - if you miraculously had your own company - whoa re you gonna hire to work with you - the one too lazy to read the whole thing, the one who gets upset that they don't have the skills but demand you could give them the experience so they will, the one who doesn't care about what your company does or what kind of environment you provide for workers ..or the one who puts in the homework, shows he has the skills and can walk in on day one appreciating the company and ready to get the job done they were hired for?  Just curious folks -w hen did everything in this country become about you and making life convenient for you?

jkrammer37
jkrammer37

Four points:

1.  Its interesting to read about other people's awful experiences.  Sorry to hear.  I hope things get better for all job seekers.

2. I have had the things listed happen to me. 

3. What wasn't listed are detailed job descriptions that go on for pages.  Somehow a person is supposed to respond to all these detailed points but keep the resume to 5 pages. These job descriptions are a WASTE of time for everyone involved.

4. Here is a scenario I didn't read about. 

I was interested in working for a very well known established research/publishing American company.  You'd know who it is.  This publishing company used a really well-known big HR/benefits company (beginning with the letter A).  You'd recognize the name.  I applied and within days got a call from GW the recruiter on Thursday @ 3:00  asking if I would be available for a telephone screening the next day (Friday) at 3:00. He was very friendly, very upbeat - somehow artificially friendly.  I agreed to the time.

I spent all day Friday reading about the company, rehearsing interview questions, reading their annual report.  3:00 comes and goes.  3:15 comes and I call the recruiter.  No answer.  I leave a message that I understood the call was for 3 p.m. and would there be a better time to speak with him.  3:30 comes and goes.  At 4:00 p.m., I call the actual publishing company and speak with their HR who are speechless.  They give me permission to go on with my day. (Don't know what someone can do with a day when its been wasted.)  I leave to do errands.  When I return I get a message from the recruiter that HE JUST MISSED MY CALL.  He won't be available on Monday or Tuesday but  this other recruiter  (Rick) he works with will call me on Monday and that Rick will do the screening on Monday.  Again, very artificially friendly.

It gets worse.

Again I prepare.  Monday comes along.  No call from Rick the recruiter.  I have no phone number to call Rick.  I try to leave a message for the first recruiter and his answering machine states that the mailbox is full.  Tuesday I call three different offices for this company and finally find the phone number for Rick.  I call and leave a message for Rick.  I also call and leave a message for GW. 

No response from either GW or Rick  (FYI-I did find GW on LinkedIn and he has a real snappy looking page about how wonderful he is.) 

Wednesday goes by.  Thursday goes by. No return call.   I then call up the actual research publishing company and speak with the same HR person.  I mention how highly I thought of their company (which I used to think) and wanted to pass on some feedback about the HR company.  She didn't have much to say.  

Apparently this scenario is more common than people think.   

I, too, will remember this HR/benefits company.  I will remember this publishing company.  Won't go near either of them ever again.  By treating a person badly, what did they accomplish?  Loss of their reputation?

Snoggeruk
Snoggeruk

Just received this treatment from Bupa.  Needless to say, it is indicative of the whole organisation, which I subsequently realised after doing further research after the second set of interviews and realised this is also the way they treat their customers. I will never consider working for them again and more importantly will never  be a customer of theirs.

Hadow
Hadow

As a writer, I evaluate communications as I read. 

First, opening ads with "Our company leads the wastewater infrastructure industry in customer service and employee safety" isn't effective.  You're proud of your record.  You should be.  But if only at the end of your ad do I learn that I don't qualify, frankly, I'd rather not know how wonderful you are.

Second, put specific job requirements up front.  I'm so disappointed when I read along, nodding and thinking, "Wow, wouldn't I love this job?" only to learn at the bitter end that it requires SQL and Hadoop.  If descriptions led with that info, I could close the applications before I was emotionally involved.

Third, as a marketer, I have to add that good job descriptions include the WIFM, or "what's in it for me?"  

Don't just describe how world-class your company is and what *you* want.  Sell the job.  Beyond a paycheck, what sets yours apart from all the *many* jobs that the reader applies for?  How about "We value our company sewer cleaners because they provide a critical service"?  Or "You'll be working with seasoned professionals in a high-growth industry"? 

Fourth, treat ads and responses as marketing opportunities.  Sure, applicant tracking systems send auto-responses.  Beyond that, applying often feels like dropping resumes into yawning black holes.  Every now and then firms, usually consumer products companies, do notify applicants with courteous "You didn't get the job but good luck with your search" notes.  Applicants think "They considered my resume and gave the job to someone else.  Fair enough.  But this note shows that the company respects me.  I want to continue doing business with them."

In short, many companies would benefit from hiring a few more writers and marketers.

hug.login
hug.login

Hopefully this article gets read by all those HR managers or people involved in the recruiting process. What I observe with those "specialists" is just embarrassing and not worth the paycheck they get! Being not prepared for an interview is not acceptable, irrespectful and a waist of time. Sometimes recruiters are too focused on diplomas, papers and God knows what without seeing the potential of a candidate. So, you want to work as a cleaner with us? Ok, where is your degree in broom holding?

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

I still remember the worst ever interview I had.

I was invited to attend a technical screening interview. I knew it was going to be a written technical test and little more but was still totally unprepared for just what was going to happen. I turned up at the agreed time only to find security had no record of me being expected. So they called the manager who wasn't in that day, and eventually someone came down to collect me.


They showed me into a room, gave me the technical test and a paper, a couple of cans of Coke and a glass, and said they'd be back in about 45 minutes to see how I was getting on. After 45 minutes there was no sign of anybody. After an hour there was no sign of anybody so I figured, since I'd completed the test and been waiting 20 minutes, I'd poke my head out and see if someone was there. And there was nobody there. I was in the HR office, at seven in the evening, and there was apparently nobody else there.


Eventually I found someone, it turned out the person who said they would be back had had to leave and asked someone else to check on me but they forgot and went home. I aced the technical test and was invited back but decided I didn't want to work for the company. Which was just as well, as within six months they had catastrophically imploded in a way that made the international news.


I won't name the company (it's not really relevant since they are long since bankrupt) but it's a name most people would recognise.

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

I remember interviewing at an investment bank some years ago. The second interview was frankly embarrassing - the guy was interviewing me to test my knowledge of credit derivatives but it soon became very awkwardly clear I knew them far better than he did.


Ironically I got the job and my knowledge of credit derivatives (one of the primary reasons they hired me) was never used. I left after six months when it became clear I was about to be assigned to a project that involved nothing more than processing text files.


Which is another thing to add to the list - don't bother hiring someone with very specific skills if you're not planning to actually use those skills. It wastes your money (I was being paid a high professional rate for work a school leaver could have done) and wastes the skills.

firstaborean
firstaborean

The most annoying circumstance I encountered during my days of interviewing for jobs was the clueless HR interviewer.  As an engineer, I expect to have my technical qualifications probed, and an interview with an HR person who couldn't tell a transistor from a draft-dodger and asks meaningless questions is very frustrating.  Hiring managers need to tell the HR people what the job entails (not just the preferred college degree) or get someone with at least a smattering of technical knowledge involved.  One time, I walked out, saying, "When you know what the job needs in technical qualifications, call me."  He never did, and I was content with his not calling me.

jsargent
jsargent

Of-course the first issue isn't so bad since if I was employed at a company I would like to know that I have a chance of getting a different post in the same company rather than ignoring my experience and going with an unknown candidate from outside.


Most spot on. Seen them all. However........those managers already know that and after so many years they still can't be bother to do anything about it. But think about this...those candidates will find employment elsewhere and with them they will carry an impression about the companies that have already refused them employment. You can either give them the impression that the organisation is professional and well organised or not. However, if you don't consider it important to fix those issues you have to remember that word gets around and to consider that those previous candidate may be your future customers. In my experience I have been treated well by most companies who had me as a candidate but I can think of a tleast one prospective employer that gave me an extremely bad impression. As an example after doing all 5 of the things in the list he called my home a number of times to fish whether I had found employment (probably so that he could lower his offer on the chance that I went back to him). 

tkerstetter
tkerstetter

There is a strong tread to describe the requirements of a position down to experience in every tool, product, style that the company currently has.  The goal obviously is to get a candidate that fits like a fine piece of a watch and is 100% functional on day one.  The problem is that this is "Inbreeding".  The only candidates that the recruiter sees that fit the requirements are either a person current in the position or peer in a competitor company.   The problem is that they get what they asked for.  The person has 10 years experience in their environment but the world is changing fast.  The new hire with limited outside experience th=ends to keep the status quo.  When the industry paradigm shifts to new requirements and knowledge, this person is obsolete.  Instead of hunting for a clone, companies need to search for a person that has diverse experience, flexible, imaginative and can think outside the box.  When the company hands the ownership of selection of candidates to the recruiter they give up flexibility for time savings. That is a bad move.

ivoyhip
ivoyhip

1) I feel uneasy when the hiring manager just call (to my cell phone).  This is because I may be in a meeting with my supervisor of the current employment.  I prefer hiring managers give me an email first.  So that, we can book an appointment for the telephone screening.

2) I see the job posting that has (close to) no keywords at all.  It may say number of years of experience; a college degree; and a bunch of vague generic traits, such as fluent in English, able to prioritize tasks, able to work in fast pace,....  There are no key words, such as Windows, Linux, SAN, firewall, PHP,...

Pamela Paterson
Pamela Paterson

Looking for a job is one of the hardest things that my clients will ever do, they tell me. It is difficult to keep your spirits up when you are subjected to some very mechanical hiring processes. I tell my clients to ignore the non-human parts of this process, and focus on increasing their job chances. Definitely one way to do this is to know that resumes are no longer print documents but online documents, and you must use formatting to get through the applicant tracking systems – for example, avoid tables, columns, text boxes, graphics, and uncommon fonts. Sometimes this formatting cannot be processed very well. Also, be sure to tailor your resume with specific keywords from the job description. Knowing that HR also hires based on personality, learn what personality the company favors by reviewing the company website material – a national charity generally doesn't hire the same kind of personality as a small aggressive software start-up. I have known people who have been rejected on personality alone, so it is an important "qualification".

Pamela Paterson, Author, Get the Job: Optimize Your Resume for the Online Job 

FREE stuff at www.beatresumesystems.com

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

Just a note for interviewees:

I went to an interview and to get to the waiting area, had to walk down a very long hall.  It was empty - just me.  Off I went and then at the other end of the hall spotted someone walking towards me.  The hall was now crowded - two of us.  Neither had a clue of who the other person was.

Well, I had choices:  keep eyes front, pass without comment.  That's kind of hostile, so on to the next choice:  small, bare hint of a smile, fleeting eye contact, curt nod of the head.  Better, but still not good.  Onward:  brief eye contact, smile, and a cheerful, 'Good morning.'  That 'fit' and was what I did - with an 'in kind' response.

I was eventually called into the interview and who should be sitting on the panel?  Yes, the guy I passed in the hall.  It was a good lesson - you never know who that person is that you pass and the tone you set can have an influence on how you're perceived.  And it's common courtesy, too.

I went through several levels of the hiring process .. lots of testing, but didn't get the job.  It was ok, though, I learned a lot about that process which helped in subsequent applications.

markb91731
markb91731

People forget to treat people the way they want to be treated. If I come in for an in person interview send me the boiler plate email that I did not get the job. Closure is key otherwise I have to keep emailing you until I get a response, looking for a job is a full time job.

I once was waiting to talk to someone about an offer. He saw me sitting in reception, then made me wait 45 minutes with no one coming out to say anything to me. Did not take the job based on how I was treated.

Another women interviewed me 3 times over 5 months and then never hired anyone.

Longest wait for an interview 2 hours to find out that they never read my resume to see I did not have the qualifications they were looking for. Were stunned when I asked for my train fare to be reimbursed.

Then there are those jobs where they will wait 6+ months looking for the perfect candidate who has everything on the list, but will not need half. Instead of hiring someone who in a month would be up to speed.


Kesmoco
Kesmoco

I once went for an interview and before I'd really got started people on the panel were looking at their watches, I quickly found out I was the last one and they weren't interested in me at all. I should have had the guts to get up and leave there and then, as why would you want to work for a company that treats people without respect, but I needed the job, which I didn't get anyway.

Also, when I worked in Local Govt. I saw a man who was clearly lost, I asked if I could help and we got chatting. It turns out that he had come up for an interview for a position that I knew was going internally. I asked him if he'd travelled far and he said he was on holiday with his family in Devon (the interview was in Manchester) and had come up by train, for which he'd get no reimbursement. He was currently unemployed. An absolutely scandalous way to treat people.

I cannot fathom how people with this level of lack of respect get to a management position.

xaqster
xaqster

My experience of #2 - Went for a first interview with a tech company, and heard nothing more.  I figured that I did not get the job.  11 months later I got a phone call asking for a second interview.  Needless to say I didn't take them up on it...

Mah
Mah

@BQRealityBites


This is a really silly post.


Companies are competing for good employees as well. Since the job offer and interview process is created by the company advertising the job, only they are in a position to improve things. 


A company is looking for the best employee who will want to work there, and stay there. If you pick someone who is simply going to stay there and quit for a better job when it turns up simply because of misleading, then the company loses much more than the employee. 


Also, if you wind up good applications who aren't quite right for a specific post but might be suited to another post that may be advertised in future, they won't bother to apply for that job when it is advertised. 


Regarding long interviews and making the applicants run around, there was a time I was called for an interview, and I attended and the interviewer didn't turn up, and I was interviewed by a replacement who didn't really know what they were doing and just asked stupid questions. I was then asked to come for a second interview with the proper interviewer, by which time I had already accepted another job on the basis that the first company didn't seem to be serious or interested in me. It turned out later that they were very keen on me, but the interviewer was called on an emergency and made me a counter offer. Both posts were equally good, but I wanted to honour the acceptance of the other post, so it was the first company's loss.


The problem is that employers tend to see applicants as employees with whom they are in control - but until they actually become employees, they are not in control, and until then applicants can be as picky about employees as the other way around.  

Pamela Paterson
Pamela Paterson

@eaglewolf Excellent advice. You never know who you are talking to!


Pamela Paterson, Author, Get the Job: Optimize Your Resume for the Online Job 

FREE stuff at www.beatresumesystems.com

gameslover
gameslover

@markb91731 that's all true and still there seems to be NO policy about HOW to treat a candidate. Why? Because at the moment there is a 'hirers-market'.  In the '70's things were reversed: dreamjobs were offered on a golden plate.  Then it was a 'hireds'-market.

jelabarre
jelabarre

@Kesmoco 

>...I cannot fathom how people with this level of lack of respect get to a management position. 

 

 At certain companies, that seems to be a *requirement* to get into management.

Nightscribe
Nightscribe

@xaqster That sounds like they hired their first choice, and it didn't work out and they were going through those who didn't get hired to shortcut the process.