Once upon a time, a young engineer walked out of an excellent interview with her top choice of employment. Her personality matched, her skills were a great fit and the hiring manager even made a “soft” offer at the close of their interview session. Her new job seemed eminent, and as the recruiter walked her out of the office, he said “we’ll be in touch.”
Days pass and no contact was made. Then one week. Nothing.
By the end of the first week the young engineer had mentally checked out. Why weren’t they “in touch”, calling or even sending an email? She had other offers on the table, but her dream company had vanished off the grid. She sent a follow-up email, waited a few more days and then...finally accepted an offer at Google.The following week, the start-up made contact and were surprised when she let them know she was off the market. Now they had to start their search for their empty job position all over again.
The brutal truth is hunting for a job is a) a process of survival where your livelihood is at stake and b) a timely process where the best candidates don’t wait around long. Without the certainty of a timeline, without communication, a candidate will either save their own skin or realize maybe that company isn’t as put together as they thought, and move on. It makes sense.
To remedy this, companies NEED to be transparent in their communication and FOLLOW UP. More established companies are better at this than smaller companies, but it is imperative that every company master communication early on. So many hiring processes turn sour because they don’t quickly follow-up with a potential hire at the end of the day. You need to clearly communicate the follow up path and what happens next. I advise my hiring managers to have the candidate follow up with a call the following day at a specified time for feedback. It’s understandable that other things (company emergencies, new product launches, getting the CEO to sign the offer letter) can take time, but a company must respond, even if not quickly so. For goodness sake, if you’re going to go slow with the process, tell the candidate ahead of time.
This is essentially the culmination of recruiter’s role. A good recruiter makes sure communication is clear and both parties are aware of what’s happening at all times. And if the recruiter can’t (or doesn’t, if in-house) follow-up with feedback, the candidate gets worried, or scared or angry, and overall acquires a sour taste in their mouth with the company, often deprecating themselves and their interview’s “performance”. A positive candidate experience must be prioritized in order to successfully find the right people. Remember, that one bad Glassdoor review can greatly inhibit your ability to land the key talent your company so desperately needs to succeed.
Your recruiter is a direct reflection of your company, your values and processes. If you move fast and communicate quickly, great! Get ‘em on that emotional upcharge and let the momentum do its thing. If you work slowly, tell the candidate. Better yet, use the deadline you tell the candidate to actually complete the hire in that period of time. And if things take longer than planned, let them know. Communication is key. Honesty is essential. Don’t let a great candidate escape because you “ghost” them.
Rick Girard is the Managing Director and Founder of Stride Search, a boutique software talent search firm. While not running a School for Gifted Mutants, he creates valuable content for Hiring Managers and Career Seekers alike to elevate industry standards of executive professional search.