There are many things about recruitment that I am passionate about, not least having the opportunity to work with some excellent clients and candidates that are both a joy to work with as well as setting me challenges in my everyday workload.

But if there is one thing that REALLY gets me going it's this.

It's the subject of FEEDBACK in the recruitment process and the need for educating some of our clients that I want to focus upon here. It's rather stating the obvious to say that feedback and the overall process are intwined and inseparable. Or at least they should be. My issue is post candidate presentation or interview , the hiring company failing to feedback in good time or to an acceptable standard - or at times receiving no feedback at all. This I find is a more frequent "blocker" in the process than almost anything else and where one can frequently and unnecessarily spend time and energy chasing clients.

Today, get this (it truly takes some beating!) whilst chasing and leaving messages for clients for feedback on my candidate's final interview, I am spending some time on linkedin, researching some bio's etc. I come across a guy who has only a day ago updated his profile and announcing he is doing the job my candidate still thinks they might be in the running for. Amazing don't you think?

Sure, of course I'm a little sore and peeved that my candidate had not landed the job and that a fee would not be forthcoming, but it cuts a little deeper than that. How would my candidate view this if they had seen it first - and what then would be their impression of me and my client? The fact that my candidate had a chance of finding out they had not landed a job via a social networking site beggars belief.

A plea to clients. Don't behave like this. Even if it is not deliberate or a simple case of arrogance, then ensure you set up processes that avoid this kind of event at all costs. This type of example really brings the entire recruitment process and those who work within it either directly or indirectly into disrepute, as well as demonstrating a complete lack of care and respect for the candidate. Truly appalling.

So what do we do? We all need to have strong, occasionally uncomfortable conversations with our clients even if it may sometimes result in them becoming ex clients. Because if they don't embrace the value that is derived from feedback and demonstrate the courtesy that they would expect from others, then they are not deserving of working with the best recruiters in their particular field. Let them deal with the cowboys and see what they get.

I'm sure I'm not on my own in having this frustration. I'd love to hear from other recruiters as well as HR Professionals out there who have a take on this.

In the meantime, five pointers of my own that may help others in a similar situation when chasing for feedback and raising the issue with your clients:

1) REPUTATION - Every interview and piece of feedback is a time that you can build or diminish a reputation. Truly, candidates WILL judge your clients on this and then tell their friends! REMIND THEM OF THIS EVERY SINGLE TIME there is a delay in the process.

2) IMPRESSION - Candidates are not only talking to and interviewing with one employer in most instances. There is a strong probability that your candidate will accept an offer from a company that treats them with respect during the process and gives them a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE. It sets the scene for how they will be treated once they actually start work.

3) EMPATHY - Ask your clients to put themselves into the candidate's shoes. It's a reasonable assumption that they were once a candidate too. If they would not find poor feedback acceptable as a candidate then neither should it apply when they hold a position of authority and responsibility in hiring.

4) ESCALATE - Speak to someone more senior in the hiring organisation. This strategy is arguably the riskiest, depending on your existing relationship, but sometimes necessary. It may even have the added benefit of the issue of feedback being taken much more seriously if the MD is personally involved! Sometimes there is a need to stress in no uncertain terms that the reputation of both the recruiter and hiring company is at stake as well as your integrity.

5) HONESTY - The candidate is the King pin here. Ultimately the client wants to hire the best person and the recruiter wants to help and place their candidate. That makes them "business critical" in every sense so whatever you do, be straight with them during the process, even if it's a telephone call to let them know there has been a hold up and what you are doing to overcome any blockage.

I guess the subject of feedback has always been a hot topic but I would argue that the occasions where feedback is lacking or generally slow appears more prevalent in these testing times. Do hiring companies think the position of power has shifted to such an extent that it matters less to them now? Or perhaps they have other internal pressures against a backdrop of global recession that it's just unfortunate that feedback to candidates takes a lower priority in the pecking order?

Based on the many excellent clients that I work with I personally think that by and large it's not intentional and other work load gets in the way. The instances of people finding out they have not got the job via linkedin are thankfully few and far between! But it remains that it is incumbent upon recruiters out there to keep educating and reminding our clients of their responsibilities.

Views: 145

Comment by Fran Hogan on January 28, 2010 at 8:46am
Thank you for this post Andy...You are certainly not alone!

I am involved in a “no-feedback” situation right now. I do believe that many hiring companies still think the position of power has shifted. My client is concerned ONLY with their interest in hiring my candidate. They have absolutely no concern about whether my candidate is interested in the company or the position. If it has occurred to them that her wanting the job matters in the total process of hiring the right person they can't get past their "process". They have forgotten all about Human Relations in Human Resources. They are caught up in the paperwork and procedures and have forgotten the goal.

Consequently, my candidate is not being treated with respect and she is starting to get a very bad impression of the company. She has seriously questioned whether she wants to work for a company with this attitude. In this situation it is not a case of internal pressures or being overloaded with other responsibilities that puts feedback low on the pecking order. It is simply company policy.
Your tips are right on…..I have done all of them and here is what has happened:

1) REPUTATION - My candidate has become less and less interested in what could be an excellent opportunity because of the process which has ignored her in every sense except to ‘QUALIFY” her. I spoke with my client about this and the response was – this is our policy.

2) IMPRESSION - My candidate has started actively speaking with other employers. She was solely focused on this position because it was an excellent opportunity. She has lost her enthusiasm and will most likely end up accepting another position.

3) EMPATHY – Did that – they didn’t get it or didn't care.

4) ESCALATE – Tried that - What did I have to lose? I’m losing my candidate anyway and this client has become an ex-client in my book anyway. Couldn’t get access to the hiring manager. Not their policy.

5) HONESTY – I have been totally upfront with her and she says she understands. However, when she talks about this experience to her friends and co-workers my name will be included in the conversation whether she considers it my fault or not.

Once the long, exhaustive pre-screening process is completed, my client may decide that she is the right one for the job. Unfortunately, I’m betting she won’t be saying yes to an offer from them.
Comment by Andy Young on January 28, 2010 at 9:08am
Hi Fran,
Thank you for your comments. Sounds to me like you've tried pretty much everything - though if you've escalated to someone more senior and they ultimately did not care, it's not the sort of business and company culture you probably want to be placing your candidates. If you can, perhaps you should make a stand and resign the business once it's clear your candidate has a preferred option and be honest with your client as to why.
It is frustrating that you feel your name will be linked with your client's behaviour, but if you have been up front with them my guess is that they will see you as having excellent integrity.


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