Interviewers get thumbs down

by 30 Oct 2007

FORTY PER CENT of job applicants have turned down a job due to a bad interview experience, according to recent research, while a further 81 per cent would tell up to 10 people if they had a poor interview experience.

One common error on the part of HR is a failure to respond to let jobseekers know they have been unsuccessful in their application, and the research found that 84 per cent of jobseekers have received no response to a job application at some stage during their careers and 69 per cent received no response after an interview.

“People have large networks of friends and aren’t shy of sharing a horror story. The flip side of course is to think about the benefits that a positive connection with jobseekers might bring,” said Lorraine Christopher, executive general manager for Chandler Macleod’s Recruitment Solutions, which conducted the research.

“This is why smart employers view the job application and interview process as an opportunity to make a positive impression with candidates and they actively treat each applicant as a potential customer or referrer.”

The research found that 98 per cent of jobseekers would appreciate some kind of feedback. “A simple email or quick phone call can go a long way,”said Christopher.

The results also prove that Australia is experiencing a new era in the job market, with respondents overwhelmingly believing that the interview process is now a two-way street.

In fact, 78 per cent of applicants indicated that the job application and interview process was very important in shaping their view of a company.

An additional 87 per cent of jobseekers questioned saw interviews as an opportunity to interview a prospective employer.

“Candidates are very sophisticated these days. They are often well-educated and highly informed about the job market and the type of company for which they wish to work,” said Christopher.

“Importantly, a two-way interview provides an efficient way for both prospective employer and employee to determine whether they have the right ‘fit’ from the beginning and help to ensure expectations are clearly articulated and agreed.

Christopher said the candidate selection process needs to change from being viewed purely as a HR function and be seen as an excellent opportunity to showcase and market the company’s commitment to excellence in employee selection and ultimately, employee careers.

“Future employees are just as critical to business success as customers. So they need to be treated with the same level of importance, and marketed to – just like you would market to your target customers,” she said.

“At the risk of sounding too radical, the role of HR professionals may need to become more a function of marketing/selling the organisation to prospective employees rather than simply assessing candidates against a set of criteria.”

Christopher said HR had a significant role to play in working with line managers in recruitment, but in order to do this effectively, line managers need to let HR in the door.

“The responses to HR’s offers of support in this area aren’t always met with open arms,” she said.

“A lot of this is to do with centralised HR functions being one step too removed from the day-to-day operations of the business, which naturally impacts their credibility at grassroots.”

Working alongside line managers to develop behavioural interviewing techniques and questions tailored to each recruitment requirement might seem tedious, she said, but will go a long way to both optimising the experience for the candidate, and helping to constructively enhance the skills of operational staff.

“A candidate-driven culture needs not to be considered as simply an HR fad,”she said.

“This needs to be driven throughout the whole organisation, from the top. Just like service delivery, sales or customer relationship management have specific KPIs and standard response times, so too should employee enquiries, job application responses and candidate interview experiences.”

A particularly surprising statistic is that 20 per cent of jobseekers surveyed had received a verbal job offer which never eventuated into a job.

“Unfortunately this is a reality in the job market, so candidates need to be cautious. Bear in mind that mistakes are made,” Christopher said.

“Sometimes interviewers make verbal job offers before they’ve received final sign-off for the role. On occasions, interviewers might be so impressed with one of their first interviewees that they rush into making a verbal offer (for fear of losing them if they don’t) before finding a subsequent applicant to be a better candidate.

“However, there are also times when unforseen circumstances arise, meaning the company can no longer go through with the job offer. Either way, candidates should always expect to receive an offer in writing, which should be provided within 24 hours of a verbal offer,” she said.

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