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Whether you hire hundreds of people or just a few per year, it is easy to get jaded about the application process. It can be tedious to wade through applications and resumes, and we often get frustrated when we cannot find the right candidates. Sometimes it is a matter of not having enough skilled people in the job seeker pool, but other times we are the ones keeping good candidates from applying. Let’s look at three ways you may be driving candidates away and how you can fix your process.
For the job seeker, it can be incredibly disheartening to send out a bunch of resumes and not hear a word from potential employers. When it comes to online applications, some applicants run the other way because they fear that all their efforts completing the application may result in the dreaded application black hole.
Part of the problem with most application processes (whether paper or online) is the lack of transparency. When you keep your process a mystery, applicants are more likely to avoid taking the time to apply.
If you have an online application, include something about your process on your website. Explain how long the application process takes and what happens once someone is called for an interview. You can also send confirmation emails when an application is received or when an application is no longer being considered. Online systems can do this automatically for you. Form emails are not always popular, but they do allow you to keep applicants updated on the process.
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If you are using a paper system, send a standard email out to applicants when they submit an application. Detail the process and what they can expect in terms of the application timeline. You may also want to consider creating form emails to send out throughout the process.
An excellent way to make a personal connection with applicants is at job fairs and onsite hiring events. I have had success at hiring events where I send out a mass email inviting all current applicants to attend a meet & greet onsite. This is not a formal interview event, but it is a chance for applicants to give a potential employer the chance to put a face with a name. If you or a manager meets someone you like, make a note to call that applicant in for an interview.
Obstacle Course Interviews
Unfortunately there is no magical test to guarantee that we have made the perfect hire. Pre-employment tests, interviews and references can help, but they can also drive people away when they become complex. Sometimes it seems candidates must jump through hoops of fire, scale walls and climb rope ladders while we throw questions at them about strengths and weaknesses. It is enough to scare some people away from applying for a job at your company.
Keep your process simple. If you want the candidate to interview with numerous company personnel, arrange for a panel to interview the candidate instead of having an endless day of one-on-one interviews. Put the candidate at ease and do not take the approach of asking candidates extremely complex questions in an effort to trip them up. This is an interview, not an interrogation. I find that taking a friendly approach and putting the candidate at ease makes for a much more honest interview. If a candidate feels comfortable, they are much more likely to be truthful about their work history, and they are much more likely to walk away with a good impression of your company.
Limit your skills testing to positions where it is necessary. The same goes for application questions. It can take a long time for an applicant to complete a bunch of written questions on things like strengths, weaknesses and what good customer service means to them. Only ask the questions that will be valuable to you in the application screening process, and avoid creating a lot of extra work that may keep someone from submitting an application.
Failure to Follow Up with Candidates
If you take weeks to follow up with a potential employee, they are likely to give up on your company and move on to something else. You may drive good candidates away simply by not communicating with them.
When you interview a candidate, let them know when you expect to make a decision. If the timeline changes, send a quick email or make a call to let them know that things have been delayed. When you make a hiring decision, get back to the candidates you interviewed but did not hire.
The key to keeping candidates engaged is good communication. Build updates into your process, and be straightforward about your process on your website or in emails to applicants. Doing so sends the message that you are an employer who values communication with employees.