Don’t Be Late! Providing Timely Candidate Feedback

Andy Adams is a Sr. Account Executive with CareerPlug, whose background includes extensive recruiting experience.  He has spent time in the trenches as an agency contract recruiter, as well as a direct hire recruiter.  Once a month, we have asked him to share his insights, tips, and advice on a particular recruiting topic.

Imagine the following scenario:

You need to hire a new salesperson (insert whatever role you commonly hire for).  The first thing you do after defining the roles and responsibilities clearly is to post your job to your company’s careers page and any other outlets that you see fit.  Soon after, the applications start rolling in and you begin evaluating your candidates.

You begin screening candidates and invite the best few for a phone interview.  From there, you whittle it down to your top couple of candidates and make the decision on who to hire.  Though you liked the other two candidates you had in consideration and would consider them for future openings, you have your person and are on to getting them onboarded.

Fast forward six months; your company is again looking to hire a salesperson.  You search in your ATS for candidates you have spoken to in the past that you liked and would be a good fit.  After all, why not re-engage your existing talent pool?  Here is what happens:

You:  “Hi Sam!  This is Andy Adams with ABC Company.  We talked about six months ago about a sales rep opening and we really liked your qualifications.  At the time, we ended up hiring someone with a little more industry experience, but have another opening and would love to talk with you some more”

Sam:  “I appreciate the call, but unfortunately, I’m not interested.”

You:  “I’m sorry to hear that.  Can I ask why?”

Sam:  “I am still waiting for the call from six months ago to tell me that you had hired someone else and that I’m not in consideration any longer.”

You:  Embarrassed silence.


While your candidates may not always be as forthcoming as the scenario described above, this is absolutely something that happens all too often.  Candidates simply want to be communicated with.  Whether they are moving forward in the process or not, being kept in the loop is better than sitting in purgatory wondering what is going on.  US News & World Report put out an article identifying the Ten Worst Things About Job Hunting – four of them had to do with communication, or lack thereof.  Think about that – 40% of the worst things cited about a job search have to do with communication from potential employers.

So, why is communicating with candidates (in a timely fashion, might I add) important?  As you can see from the scenario above, it can cost you great candidates.  If a candidate isn’t a good fit today, it doesn’t mean they won’t be some day in the future or for some other role.  By not communicating, you’re sending a message to candidates and potential future employees that you don’t care.  By simply telling a candidate that you are moving forward with other candidates or that their skill set isn’t a match, you are providing closure, which goes a long way towards building good will in the future.

Additionally, to think that candidates don’t talk to one another is crazy.  With all the networking tools and groups out there today…people talk.  And as much as people like to talk about good experiences, they LOVE to gossip and complain about bad experiences. Those types of things tend to snowball, which leads to your company having a bad reputation in the marketplace.  That can make it very difficult to attract and hire the best people.

I remember a former client of mine that didn’t have the best reputation for work-life balance and half the calls I made to potential candidates resulted in “Oh, that’s your client…I would never go work there.”  This was not the reality, as the client had an excellent culture that promoted work-life balance, but the perception was different because one team had a few contractors that were not happy during a big project a couple of years earlier.  In a close knit technology community in Columbus, Ohio…that mattered.  Not providing candidates with feedback can have the same ill effects.

With the candidate market being more competitive than it has been in years, you simply cannot afford to put yourself and your company in a position to make hiring more challenging.  By taking the simple step to communicate with candidates, you can help preserve a future pool of passive candidates and maintain your reputation in the market place. This is something that can very easily be built into your hiring process to ensure it is done each and every time.

For more hiring tips follows us on Twitter @CareerPlug

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