We Need To Fix the Broken Candidate Experience

Every now and then, you read an article that you have to share with others. It’s just too good to keep to yourself.
That’s the case with Anne Kreamer’s recent Harvard Business Review blog post,
The Rise of the Rude Hiring Manager.” In the post, Kreamer shines a fair and fairly unflattering spotlight on the experiences of several individuals as they undergo the rigors of today’s job search, recruitment and hiring processes.

Kreamer describes how these individuals are put through their paces by prospective employers—often being asked to interview multiple times over the course of months, to take on test “assignments,” and to deliver polished business plans, proposals and presentations as part of the process of applying for an open position. During their ordeals, these candidates also experience administrative incompetence, a lack of timely communication, and just plain rudeness from their potential employers. And the sad fact is these experiences are growing more common.
Although the headline of Kreamer’s post calls out hiring managers specifically, the entire hiring process is actually at fault here. At one point, Kreamer astutely observes: “I can’t pinpoint exactly when the hiring process went off the rails, but I believe it began in the late 90s, when cost cutting became a mania and headcount was slashed to the bone, requiring every employee to do the work of many. With so little margin for error, every hire became a fraught decision, and the fear of making a mistake loomed larger and larger.”
Vetting candidates became increasingly complex and time-consuming, Kreamer writes, and “new hurdles were added until someone interested in a director-level position … is now routinely required to submit the kind of analysis and proposals that were once the province of in-house executives or paid consultants.” Especially harrowing is the interview process, which ballooned from an average of 12 days in 2009 to an average of 23 days in 2013.
Putting job candidates through a reasonable but thorough screening process is just good business. But it appears this process has gone haywire at many organizations, which is just bad business. After all, the candidate experience we provide says a lot about us as employers. It’s the first taste people get of our culture, our work environment and how we treat our employees. If we have any hope of consistently hiring the best talent and building great employment brands, we need to fix the broken candidate experience—and the sooner the better.
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