“Candidate Experience” question….

Next week I throw myself back into recruiting (this time, corporate – something new!).  I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to handle the candidate experience.  Surely some things are out of my control – I will be working with a recruiting coordinator, flexing to the needs and schedules of my hiring managers, and of course the whims of the candidates themselves.  (Of course I want to work for your company.  Unless this other offer comes through.  I can interview anytime.  Except the four options you gave me.)

As I’m winding down my current position as a career counselor in the public sector, I’ve thought a lot about what my customers (job seekers) are going through during their own searches.  I’ve also had a few interviews myself lately and am surprised at some of the bad behavior I’ve experienced first-hand.

Right now I’m working with a job seeker (let’s call him Joe) who is separating from the military.  He’s a junior officer with the right background certain large companies look for when hiring distribution / management trainee types.  He’s currently in process with two companies – one is his “dream” job and the other he’ll settle for.  Company A offers great name recognition, training, choice of locations, and quite frankly Joe would probably trade you his first born for an offer.  Company B is also large and well known, but not as “sexy” – he would have to relocate with either company but Company B’s location options are less than ideal.  Also, the pay is about 10K lower for a similar role.

How did we get to the point where Joe is ready to dump Company A and give all his love to Company B?????

Enter the dreaded “Candidate Experience”. 

Joe has networked in person with recruiters from Company A.  He’s exchanged several e-mails.  He’s done their application and revamped his resume to their exact specifications.  He’s answered the same seven questions four times for three different people.  He’s been promised a phone call three times from two different people and has yet to get any such call.  This process has taken at least six weeks, if not longer. 

Company B comes in.  He’s never met the recruiter he’s working with, but they’ve already exchanged e-mails and had a very successful phone interview.  He again did the application and resume redo, from which he received feedback within 24 hours.  His recruiter has given him very specific “next steps”, including when/where/how of being flown in for an in-person interview and even what to expect at the rental car counter.  (Yes, they’re renting him a car.)  He has a tentative schedule and at the very least knows when he can expect to hear back from her by phone with updates.  This has all taken place in the last two weeks.

Note that both companies are similar in size and scope.  I’m sure all the recruiters involved (all corporate, no agencies here) are extremely busy.  The major issue here is Company B is making the candidate feel the love.  A is making him feel like he’s not worthy.  B leaves the candidate feeling desirable (in the purest professional sense of course).  A is making him feel like a stalker.

If both companies offered him a job tomorrow, I think he might just go to Company B – he’s that frustrated.  At this rate B will send him an offer letter about the time he gets his first phone interview scheduled with A.  That being said, I have to stress, this is not about timing.  This is about his experience.  If he still felt he had a chance with Company A he would wait for them till the cows come home. 

Recruiters – what say you?  Is this acceptable and/or normal behavior?  Should candidates just suck it up and expect that this is simply how the hiring process works…?

Views: 212

Comment by Tom Dimmick on June 15, 2011 at 1:46pm
Amy - I don't think that recruiters; be they in-house or agency, always have the full support of the hiring manager.  If they don't; what you get is company 'A'.  When they do, you get company 'B'.  Granted, there are some lousy recruiters out there and there are some lousy employers out there too, but I find that if the hiring manager is motivated, the process moves forward at something other than a glacial pace and candidates that have caught the hiring manager's eye feel the love.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 15, 2011 at 1:51pm
It may just be that Joe is not on the A list with company A. It sounds like to me they are keeping him "warm" in the event that the A list candidates are not offered. If he were working with a third party recruiter he would know more about what was going on...maybe.

I hate the business of keeping a candidate warm just in case but it happens daily. Joe is operating from a mindset of ignoring the fact that his "dream job" probably is not. He is getting a real feel for what company A is really like if he would take a step back and realize it's not him, it's them. There is a lot to be said for joining a company who treats a candidate like an A candidate because to them he is one.

Would any of us rather go to a party where it was clear we were invited because the host really wanted us to come as opposed to a party where we had to beg for an invitation or were an afterthought.

Yes, there are a lot of companies where the process is such a garbage dump of egos and incompetence that the second coming of Christ would be more likely to happen before anyone gets hired. With the improving market more candidates are telling these clowns to kiss a pig. And they should.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on June 15, 2011 at 1:57pm

Thank you Tom and Sandra, excellent points both!  I've been trying to steer him away from A anyway, because I was recognizing that it was going nowhere.  You both put it in a way I hadn't quite thought of...


Easy for me to sit on the sidelines and jeer, but hey next week when I'm the corp recruiter facing one of these issues that may be a completely different blog.  :)  Coming from a background in agency recruiting I can't imagine not bear hugging a candidate all the way to the start date!  Unless -  as noted - he's not "the one".

Comment by Sue Orr on June 16, 2011 at 11:09am
To me, it sounds like a no-brainer.  He should go with Company B if they make him the offer.  It's worth 10K to be with a company that values you and has more efficient processes.  Some things are worth way more than money and personally, I wouldn't care about how "sexy" a company's name recognition is.
Comment by Ashley Ryall on June 16, 2011 at 11:36am

Hi Amy,

I'm glad you shared this story with us, what a predicament he must be in! I'm curious about the shift that is happening in regards to what job seekers are searching for in a position, and the ultimate job decisions they are making.  It would make sense, (wouldn't it??!) that job seekers would want stability and a high salary, given that the economy is still the way it is (though improving). Though, we are seeing this shift towards wanting "the whole package" which includes "the candidate experience." I'd be curious to learn more about what job criteria was important to job seekers (even) five years ago, and how that criteria has shifted or changed today.

Comment by Jason Hartman on June 16, 2011 at 11:51am
Good write up Amy.  I've been on both sides of the candidate experience and have been appalled how some recruiters even treat other recruiters as candidates!
On the hiring side, I've worked with companies to create a good candidate experience and I've seen this really increase our offer to acceptance ratio.  We haven't always been the highest offer but candidates have chosen us because they've had a seamless hiring experience.  Basically, we keep the mess (if there is one) behind the curtains :).  As far as I'm concerned, you can't over communicate when shepherding a candidate through the process.  Even when we've declined a candidate, we've had them refer others to our company afterward.
When I've been a candidate, I've been surprised at how often the ball is dropped in the candidate/hiring experience. 
It's possible he isn't the #1 candidate for Company A.  But given the fall through of appointments and phone interviews, it sounds even more like they're just disorganized, and it could be very reflective of the culture and employee experience once hired.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on June 16, 2011 at 12:08pm

Thanks for all the comments.  I think that's the frustration.  Don't keep scheduling phone calls and then attaching silly disclaimers like "I'm so busy - if I don't call you at the time I selected it's up to you (candidate) to contact me to reschedule".  SERIOUSLY?  Ok that's not word for word but believe me the ACTUAL text was even worse.  If he's not the guy he's not the guy... let him go....  I hope he gets an offer from somewhere else soon so we can dispense with this silliness.  I swear it's like dragging out a bad breakup.  :)

Comment by Marc Rodriguez on June 16, 2011 at 1:11pm

Ok, wait ... I can see the ending! ...

Company B extends the offer, Joe gets ready to accept or does accept, then Company A magically inserts themselves back in the process, Joe gets starry-eyed and enthralled, forgets all the previous bad behaviour from Company A, and accepts the offer from Company A.


Did I nail it ?! ;o)


Comment by Amy Ala Miller on June 16, 2011 at 1:16pm
LOL Marc - way to inject some reality into it... you know it wouldn't surprise me!  The only bright spot is that I am not representing Joe in any way other than as his state-paid employment counselor.  I have no commission depending on this and tomorrow's my last day here anyway.  :)  I will have to keep in touch with him so I can give you all an update!
Comment by Charlie Allenson on June 16, 2011 at 1:23pm
Being the occasional techno moron, I managed to delete my riveting and insightfully humorous posting. But the key was the quote I found by Eleanor Roosevelt (no, I was not there, but I was at Woodstock), "In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond."


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