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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 10, 2008 • Issue 08:03:01

Shower candidates, grow your ISO

By Curt Hensley
CSH Consulting Inc.

Have you ever wondered why some organizations consistently attract more superstar employees than their competitors? It's because these companies have positive interviewing reputations. How you treat candidates, whether they are a perfect fit for your office or not, during a meeting with your company could make or break you for future references. You'd be surprised how poorly some companies perform during interviews.

Many executives don't understand - or don't practice their understanding - that the interview process is an opportunity to grow a long-term referral base. If the outcome of the meeting is terrible for candidates, it could produce negative reverberation.

Pet peeves

Here are the top 10 irritations that drive potential employees insane. These should be avoided at all costs. This list portrays candidates' annoyances with No. 1 being the worst.

    10. Tardiness and the omission of significant details will put you on the fast track to negative publicity. Candidates want to know who is conducting the interview and how long it will take, so they can prepare. They do not want to arrive on time at a location, only to wait alone in a lobby, room or restaurant, looking at their watch every couple of minutes, wondering when the late interviewer will arrive.

    9. Candidates don't like to waste their precious paid time off. So, it really gets under their skin when they take a personal day on one, two, or three occasions to interview with a company, only to fall into the black hole of forgotten callbacks. It would be worth it if candidates at least received phone calls telling them they didn't get the job. Without that, all they have to show for their efforts is a lack of vacation days.

    8. Applicants hate assumptions gathered from their résumés. If you think something doesn't look right, ask these candidates to clarify. Chances are there is a logical reason for whatever your concerns are. For example, a company can change names 10 times - especially in the payments industry. Candidates can also change job titles or get promoted within the same company, making it appear as if they change jobs frequently.

    7. In a technology driven world, candidates don't have patience for glitches. Online applications are a good idea, but only when the Web site containing the application is functioning properly. Once in front of the computer, candidates are investing their time. If the Web page crashes unexpectedly, the candidate will have to start over. Some might turn the computer off and stay away - and tell their friends to do the same.

    6. Being unprepared to interview potential employees is inexcusable. Some candidates see this as a sign of immaturity or lack of qualification, which puts the company's reputation at risk. Asking candidates why they want the job when they were sought after doesn't make sense. Also, candidates know when their résumés are being looked at for the first time during the interview.

    5. Applicants who think they are perfect for the job but somehow don't get an interview get very upset and are more likely to say negative things about the company. It really doesn't matter if it's because of a poor résumé, undeveloped communications skills or not connecting at the right level. And there's not much you can do to counteract this reaction.

    4. While candidates understand the interview process is tough, it shouldn't be more difficult than becoming a nominee for the Supreme Court. There are hiring processes that can take up to nine months - about eight months too long. Even if you did end up hiring the poor candidate after such a drawn out process, what kind of message have you sent? Word of extensive screening will get out, and future applicants will shy away from applying.

    3. Candidates loathe red tape. For example, a background check conducted by hourly workers that got held up because there was a slight discrepancy in the type of college degree awarded to the applicant versus what the new hire stated on the job application. This is inexcusable. Did I mention this candidate had already quit the previous job, had a farewell party and been given a start date by the new employer? Yes, type of thing this actually happens.

    2. Potential employees are not circus acts: They don't want to jump through hoops if they indicate they are "open to talking." This only means they are willing to hear what you have to say about your company and the job offer. It is not an invitation to put candidates through a formal interview process, complete with a one-hour phone screen with the human resources department, a call with a junior team member asking critical questions and a cattle call.

    1. Candidates get perturbed if they have to talk with misinformed, condescending and unoriginal human resource generalists, or entry-level recruiters who respond to all questions with, "Because that's the way we do it here and we cannot do it differently" or "I don't know." Candidates call because they want concrete answers, and they should be able to get them without this kind of hassle.

Positive points

We are all guilty of some spineless moments that cause candidates pain and suffering. But what do they love? What wins every time with candidates and leaves them with a great taste in their mouth for your organization?

The following are a few of their favorite types of interviewing experiences, with No. 1 being the top choice:

    10. Candidates appreciate talking to someone at the company who is well-informed. They want to talk about their background and what their potential career path may be. Potential employees are looking for someone who will have an unbiased conversation about existing options.

    9. Applicants desire to enter an interview process that is transparent and thoroughly planned.

    8. Courtesy is king. Candidates want at least one phone call back, even if it's to say, What we have is no for now but not forever. We value your time and want to thank you for it.

    7. Companies that offer phone assistance with their online applications make the process easier for candidates. Most prefer to talk with someone familiar with the system before filling in the blank fields.

    6. If applicants need more information on the company, supply it. Giving handouts, phone numbers or a Web site link creates a positive image for your company.

    5. If something seems out of place on a résumé or during the interview, ask the candidate about it. Interviewees will appreciate the opportunity to have open dialogue and an honest discussion about objections to their backgrounds.

    4. Once candidates accept a job offer, they might need assistance on resigning. They might also need some flexibility on start dates if they have plans to travel or have family obligations. Let them know you'll work with them so your schedules mesh.

    3. Asking candidates for feedback is clever. This shows that even if you don't hire them, their professional opinion is valued. Ask them what they felt were high and low points of the interview, or ask them to weigh in on your company's overall job applicant experience.

    2. Candidates like candid interviewers. They also want a chance for their questions to be answered versus being interrogated without any real dialogue about their concerns.

    1. Overall, candidates expect to be treated with respect at every level regardless of whether or not they are the perfect candidate for the open position.

Over the years I've heard a few executives and human resource people contend that being service-oriented in this process reduces the quality of the applicant pool, as well as the hiring manager's ability to be selective.

That's a complete cop-out. Although it is more difficult to do this in a high-volume, low-level environment, the effort to do a few things on the positive list will be well worth it.

If the worst outcome is every candidate you interact with thinks your company walks on water, then it wasn't such a bad idea. It's as simple as doing the right thing.

In the future, it is the ISO with more candidate connections who will win, not the executive or human resource generalist who created the process.

I'm willing to bet that organizations unwilling to change or analyze the process will not win the next generational wave of top talent. end of article

Curt Hensley is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of CSH Consulting (www.cshconsulting.com), a recruiting firm exclusively focused on the payments industry. He and his leadership team have over 50 years of combined experience in recruiting and merchant acquiring. This niche focus and deeply-rooted expertise have made it possible for CSH to have placed more than 1,000 professionals over the past seven years. Contact Curt at 480-315-8800 or curth@cshconsulting.com.

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