You rarely lose a top candidate at the end of the hiring process. It’s usually in steps taken along the way. In this case the client made a series of seemingly small mistakes that resulted in the candidate declining to go forward. It started simply by the hiring manager keeping the candidate waiting 30 minutes, then, he compounded the problem by not being prepared for the interview. “He didn’t seem to remember much about my background”, the candidate later confided in me. Despite the rocky start, the candidate returned for a series of additional interviews with other members of the management team. All went well, but the last interview was to be with a senior manager who was on a sales trip in Europe. No problem, we would arrange a phone interview. Week one resulted in no interview being arranged. It wasn’t until week two that the senior executive could “make room on his calendar” to call the candidate. The executive was 30 minutes late making the call and it lasted only 30 minutes. (Eight or nine time zones difference and he couldn’t find 30 minutes on his calendar for two weeks?) Finally, the client told me that all of the executives were very excited about the candidate and they wanted to move forward with an offer. I was told to inform the candidate that an offer would be sent to him “in a week or so”, as soon as the hiring manager could get all of the required approvals. At this point the candidate declined to continue. “To me, a hiring process is a reflection of how a company operates and makes decisions. I didn’t like what I saw.” The candidate took a job with a much larger company which had moved faster and more efficiently than this client.
Lesson learned: The best window any candidate has into the culture of an organization is the way it goes about the hiring process. If your process isn’t tight, professional, organized and strategic, top quartile candidates will go elsewhere, and they may tell their friends about their experience. One bad hiring process can equal two problems, the loss of a top candidate and a bad public relations moment.
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Mike is the founder of Hagerthy & Co, an executive search, training and consulting firm. For information on how to arrange for their complimentary Hiring Process Assessment go to: www.hagnco.com/page13.html#HiringProcess.