Recruit Right--Even Those You Turn Away
Even with high unemployment, leading firms work hard to position themselves as the employer of choice for top candidates. They spend a fortune doing so--through on-campus visits, conferences, sponsorships, advertising, and search firms. What's so striking to me is that they waste all that money, but miss seizing the crucial moment: the in-person candidate meeting.
It's almost schizophrenic, the passion with which top firms woo--and then lose interest in--new-hire candidates. Once these individuals come in for an interview, the tables are turned, the selling process stops, and the employer metamorphoses into a very demanding customer and the previously-cherished candidate is suddenly treated like a petitioner.
Where this plays out worst is in psychometric testing. The tests are rarely explained but they always provoke anxiety. Strong candidates want to do well but I've spoken to no one who was ever told how the test was relevant to the position. Worse still, when the test is done, candidates don't get feedback--positive or negative--and are left wondering what the employer now knows about them that they don't. This is not a great way to make a potential employee feel loved.
For those who aren't selected, the process is invariably worse. They have invested a great deal of time, energy, and attention in a job they didn't get. And even then they may be left guessing for weeks since, these days, almost no one seems to send out rejection letters or explanations. How can firms who treat people this way expect any outcome other than having now created a large number of people who cordially hate them? All that initial salesmanship-and the only legacy is one of distrust and disgust.
It doesn't have to be this way. Psychometric tests can and should be explained in advance. Much of the feedback that's generated can, and should be shared. I can hear human resource executives complaining that they don't have time, but here's the question: After the fortune invested in recruitment, do you want to turn failed candidates into adversaries or evangelists? It's a choice. Treat candidates--successful and unsuccessful ones--well and they can become your salesforce. Assuming you've interviewed and tested strong, capable people, they are capable of building your reputation. But only if you deserve it.
Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur and author. She has been chief executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. In 2014, she published her fourth book, A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition.