3. Cancel an interview at the last minute.
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well. – Jeff Bezos
No email. No callback. No “nuthin.”
As someone who has been the in-between for a candidate waiting for feedback from a client, I can understand first-hand how incredibly frustrating this could be to anyone searching for a job.
It’s not about always wanting to get the job. It’s just about the sense of respect from the company to follow up and close the circle with the candidate, especially after this person took so much of their own personal time to spend with you and your team going through the interview process.
Having gone through this somewhat frustrating process recently as I embarked on my journey to find the next step in my career, I was reminded of the top five things that companies should NEVER do if they want to make sure that they don’t ruin their brand and create a terrible candidate experience.
1. Take a long time to set up an interview
This is for the recruiters pushing hard to find the right candidate for a job.
After that initial phone screen and determining that the candidate you are talking to has the right skills needed for your company, it is imperative that the interview is set up in a timely manner to keep her/him engaged and interested in the role.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the interview has to take place immediately, as you can schedule the interview for the following week if that is the first time the interviewing team has time to do so; however, you don’t want to wait more than 24–48 hours to at least have something on the books with the candidate.
This speed shows the candidate that you are serious about their candidacy, and that everyone else in the company is serious about interviewing and hiring for this role.
If it takes more than 2 or 3 days or the candidate doesn’t hear anything back for a week or more, there’s a good chance that the candidate will have either A).moved on to another role that has moved a bit quicker or B).this role will automatically be lower on the totem pole due to the slowness of setting this up.
To prevent this, work hard to stay within that 24–48 hour window from that initial recruiting conversation.
This window is also very much needed for the second thing companies should not do to ensure a solid candidate experience.
2. Take a long time to provide feedback or follow-up
In the same vein, it is imperative that the candidate receives feedback on how they did and the next steps within the same time frame after an interview.
With so many jobs open and a lack of skilled workers available, the best candidates will have multiple opportunities. To ensure that you don’t miss out on them, you have to be quick and efficient with your follow-up and discussion of the next steps.
Even if the candidate doesn’t do well, it’s essential to make sure the candidate is aware, so they are not in limbo and thinking they have a shot.
One of the mistakes I’ve seen companies make is that they get back to candidates quickly when they are ready to move forward and almost completely forget about candidates who don’t make it to the next round.
This is a terrible practice and really hurts a company brand, as it shows a complete lack of care and empathy for someone who doesn’t directly serve to benefit the company.
Typically, this indicates a company will love you when you are an employee for them and working hard to drive revenue or profits, but as soon as you need to do something that could detract from that, e.g., personal responsibilities, it could be a problem.
This also indicates a company that might be vindictive if you try to leave for another company instead of being happy for you.
Next, we have something that happens all too often in the hustle and bustle world of interviews.
3. Cancel an interview at the last minute
While I know this can’t be predicted or prevented all the time, companies should do everything possible to prevent this from happening.
Companies will typically have one shot to do this without hurting their credibility with the candidate and, subsequently, the ability to close that candidate if an offer is made.
Anything more than that, and the candidate is going to think the company is somewhat disorganized and doesn’t respect an individual’s time and energy as much as the business needs.
This harkens back to sending the wrong message of being focused on revenue and driving profits more than caring about people. Since they are not an employee yet and can’t drive revenue or growth, they are less of a priority now.
If you do this more than once, the scary thing about this is that most candidates won’t ever say anything.
They’ll continue with the interview process like everything is fine, but if given an offer, they will use this as a point of consideration for whether they should accept the job.
This could put you at a significant disadvantage in such a competitive job market where the best candidates get multiple offers, and this could be the tipping point that takes your company out of consideration.
The next no-no is something that might not always be possible to prevent, but you can alleviate the negative effect by taking one single step when it happens.
4. Show up grossly late to interviews without a warning
Being five minutes late to an interview is not the end of the world, but if you’re anything more than that, you’re probably making a negative impression on the candidate.
Everyone’s time is precious, and we all realize meetings run over, or unexpected events happen. However, when someone is waiting in a Zoom or your office lobby, making them wait longer than that is a very strong signal that they are just not that important to you.
You can remedy this with a simple solution to let the candidate know that you are running late and will be there in x amount of minutes. This isn’t ideal, but it is much better than showing up late without communication.
Having the presence of mind and care to let the candidate know that you are running behind shows that they are still of concern to you and haven’t been forgotten. Otherwise, they may wonder if you are even coming.
Sending that quick note will make them feel thought of and appreciated and will go a long way for them to feel they had a positive candidate experience in spite of the delayed start.
This brings us to the last no-no that should NEVER happen but does way more than companies would like to admit.
5. Ghost candidates
This behavior drove me up the wall when I worked for a staffing agency.
Having been in the industry for a number of years, I knew when a client disappeared on a candidate and provided no feedback, it was not malicious behavior.
It was usually just an indication that the candidate wasn’t a good fit for the role, and they had decided to go in a different direction.
However, the complete lack of follow-up for the candidate was such a disrespectful action that I would be maniacal about getting some sense of closure from them to ensure that information was shared with the candidate.
The “if you don’t hear from us, assume we went in a different direction” approach indicates a lazy and selfish company that doesn’t truly value a person’s time and energy.
When someone has dedicated time and energy to spend with you in hopes of working for your company, the least you can do is follow up to let them know they didn’t get the job.
I get it. Everyone is busy.
However, shooting a simple email to a candidate to close the loop with them should take less than five minutes and will go a long way toward protecting your company’s brand and not allowing the candidate to feel that their time was wasted.
Just like candidates are way more likely to leave a negative review at a restaurant than a positive one, making sure you treat candidates who DON’T get the job with as much respect as those who do will go a long way toward protecting your company brand.
And while I can’t promise you won’t have people who will still feel slighted because they didn’t get the job and will have a negative view of your company brand, at least you’ll know you didn’t make any of these five no-no’s that could destroy it.