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Is your recruiting process actually alienating top-tier candidates?

There’s a common misunderstanding in the talent acquisition community. We tend to focus on the negative results of common recruiting processes and hiring campaigns.  Let’s change it up (put our pessimism aside) and try to focus on how, moving forward, we can avoid the alienation of our best candidates and ensure we actually HIRE them.    

Consider the ‘why’ & ‘how’
This comes down to communication between a recruiter and a hiring manager. Normally both sides understand, or at least can communicate around, the actual job description and the bullets/objectives therein. That’s a good start. But when the communication isn’t clear between those two sides, usually the “why” is left out — why does that manager need that hire at that moment in time? When the “why” isn’t clear, people get brought in for roles they’re not suited for. They may have the requisite bullet points, but they’re not what the hiring manager actually needs at that moment. This is why conversation is crucial and why all managers need to be able to clearly explain the “why” of every open seat they have.

So, how do companies accomplish a clean process — the kind where top candidates don’t feel alienated (and the best people actually GET hired)?  What are these companies doing that make people WANT to work for them?

Avoiding dishonesty: Proactive recruiting
Proactive recruiting is about building a pipeline and establishing relationships before a position is officially open. Be honest and set expectations up front for all aspects of the job. Honesty helps to move hiring the process along and fast track your process to get you from interview to salary negotiation. But some organizations are less than honest about their proactive recruiting methods, which can lead to forced relationships or long, drawn-out conversations where an actual role is never going to be in the cards. In those cases, the candidate side will be turned off.

Being timely
Establish an honest time-to-hire schedule.  Set the expectation(s) as to how you will be communicating throughout the process and when to anticipate these communications.

Have you ever been considered for a position and gone WEEKS without hearing anything about where you are in the process at this point (or if you’re still even being considered)?  That kind of wait time never translates well to candidates.  It often feels disrespectful. Even early on in the process, taking forever to get an interview scheduled is a turn-off — and remember, the A and B level tech talent (the people you want) have other offers and a lot of times, better options. You need to act fast.

Establishing goals: The big picture
We all have career aspirations and goals.  You want to believe that each role you take can lead somewhere, or the keystone of your professional arc. So, when a recruiter only talks about their needs for a req as opposed to the needs of the candidate — alienation occurs.  The candidate now feels like an outlier instead of someone being sought out.   Jobs are extremely important to people.  Most spend the better part of their middle years at or around work.  Acknowledging and addressing a candidates career aspirations is a must during the hiring process.

Vetting for tech
A lot of companies will try to vet tech candidates with one of the following methods (or — things to avoid during the vetting process):

  • Long lists of scripted questions, i.e. “What To Ask A [Developer]”
    • Scripted questions will bore the candidate and they may not accurately reflect their skill set.
  • Long form tests
  • Interviews with HR or managers that aren’t familiar with the role
    • Candidates tend to feel less confident about their role when being asked technical questions by individuals that are not as technically proficient as they are.

Avoid alienation by…

  • Having better conversations with hiring managers.  This will provide more context on the role and specifically why it’s a current need. Hiring managers should explain which of the job description requirements are most important and which are negotiable.
  • Evaluating your current processes.  Where are the choke points? Where are things slowing down (and how to speed them back up)?
  • Using third-party technical vetting. This is what we do — interviews as a service, to help you avoid bad hires, meet volume hiring needs, and address potential gaps in expertise.  Tech candidates love talking tech to an individual they consider a peer.

Caring: This is where most effective business process starts — someone has to care. Yes, recruiters are busy. They are spinning a lot of plates and it can feel like top-of-funnel activities and scheduling are the most valuable. Evaluate your process and how it affects not only your company and your success, but the success of your candidates.

Rob Miner

Robert Miner
Rob Miner has a wealth of experience providing technology solutions to businesses and corporations large and small, from start-ups to Fortune 50 organizations. By consistently delivering well crafted solutions to address business-critical needs, clients have actively sought his input to formulate and execute profitable business initiatives. His experience covers technology staffing, managed services, professional services projects & implementations, training, and building sales teams.