What Is A Good Candidate Interview Experience Worth?

This is an interesting question, and to be honest, my perspective may not necessarily be shared by all of my colleagues. 

Okay, enough with the disclaimers.

Let’s start by allowing me to define what I am getting at:

All too often, I find that employers (including hiring companies, agencies, hiring managers, freelance recruiters, etc.) seem to not always provide the most positive experience when it comes to interviewing and being considered for hire.  I’ll be honest, I’m sure I have been guilty of contributing to this trend.

There are times when the recruiter or hiring manager will miss the interview slot, or will seem to forget a pending meeting that they must depart to, or prepare for.  Sometime they are distracted by work demands, that annoying call on their cell phone, or some other pressing priority that eats up their attention and time.  I can understand that the business of business is business, not necessarily having to put that aside to consider a candidate that may or may not join your team, but what impression does this have on the candidate evaluating you for the job? 

Again, first impressions are all important.  This is the cornerstone message of every sales deal.  If a sales rep. or account manager is late, or ill-prepared for a critical meeting where they are expected to present to a client, why should that client buy their widget?  Minimal mistakes can be a death sentence to a deal that was pending since who-knows-when. 

That said, despite the shaky economy, and the fact that there are a substantial number of job seekers out in the market vying for roles, in my opinion, companies that want to attract and retain marquee, top-notch and desirable talent still need to provide compelling arguments for the best candidates to pay attention and consider taking a job with them.

For the prospective new hires, they (hopefully) have a few things going for them:

 1) (Usually) they are gainfully employed in roles where they are making significant impacts, where it is not so easy to just “jump ship.”  These highly desirable, highly marketable candidates already have stable working situations, and therefore have some leeway to decide whether they need to leave an existing situation for what your company offers.

2) They have the requisite skill sets, and experience to make them desirable in the job market.  Their skills are up to date, they are relevant to the jobs they are applying to, and they are in a “ready-to-hire” state (similar to products being “market-ready”), and can hit the ground running with minimal efforts to ramp-up.

3) They are willing and interested to commit their time, energy, and resources to build success and value for the company.  Their intent is to make the company healthier and more profitable through their efforts.  This passion and drive, and in some cases, ambition, will propel them to go far and really produce for that prospective company, with  the caveat that they are properly rewarded for their efforts (no one does anything for free).

With this in mind, I believe it behooves hiring companies to pay attention to the message that they present to candidates during the recruiting process from sourcing all the way through interviewing to the hire.  I believe that while it is not in any company’s best interest to “railroad” or fast-track a hire just for the sake of hiring , it is critical to minimize any unnecessary lag time, and move forward with the hire as soon as possible. 

Delaying a hiring decision may equate to:

– Lost productivity since that new hire is not currently producing for the company through their work output. 

– Overworked employees that must cover for work output that otherwise done by this potential new hire, which may result in their decreased productivity related to their existing work duties and responsibilities.

– Potentially decreased work output from a deficit of working time on whatever deadlines the potential new hire may need to meet (mostly applicable to set deadlines or project based work).  In other words, if a project takes 1 year to complete, but it takes 6 months to hire the candidate to do the work, and assuming there is no one else to pick up the slack, the project is already 6 months behind, before the new hire even gets started.

Putting aside the notion that a company either frightens away potentially strong candidates, or even loses candidates through delays to the hiring and offer process, other glaring risks come from the message that is communicated to those candidates that do not make the cut.  In other words, let’s say in the interview and selection process, out of a pool of 30 candidates, only 5 are deemed as highly desirable, and are contacted, shephered through the process and one is extended an offer.  For all those not selected, if they are treated with respect and dignity, they will most likely tell their friends that despite not being selected, it was a worthwhile experience that they may be willing to endure again if the opportunity arises. 

If, for whatever reason, those candidates that are not selected are treated poorly (mistreated, hung up on, spoken to rudely, etc.), this is a bad situation that the company will need to devote resources to counter-sell to future employees.  In other words, a good reputation with minimal fanfare, is much easier to manage and less costly, than a bad reputation, where you have to convince candidates to want to apply and engage.  Consider how much money companies across the world will invest in advertising (we’re talking in the billions), all with the intent to sell a message, a brand, an idea.  Treating candidates properly is probably among the most economical (=cheapest) means of ensuring that your brand is properly communicated.  Just follow-though on what you promise to do, and treat others with respect.

There’s something to be said about being an employer of choice.  Companies like Google, Apple, eBay, Intel, Facebook, LinkedIn and others do not spend resources trying to convince others to join them.  This is done by the army of willing followers, ex- and current employees, and others that desire for a better life through joining these firms.  They spend their time and energy culling from the myriad number of applicants to find the select few that will produce.  In some cases, they are reaching out to those who would never consider working for them, just for what value they can offer.

Sourcing, interviewing, offering brings with it an excitement and a thrill that can only be borne out by treating the candidates right, paying them well, and motivating them to invest not only their time, but their hearts and souls into these companies for the sake of providing the very best products and services.  You can pay anyone any amount of money you like, but nothing beats true inspiration, and it starts with treating them right when they show up to meet you.


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