Many HR professionals struggle to find ideal job candidates these days. So when you find them, the last thing you want to do is turn them off.
Instead, HR pros want to keep job candidates engaged and interested in your organization, the role and a future with you.
But we get it – that’s tough, considering there are about 10 million job openings and about 5 million fewer people to fill them since the pandemic started, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With more jobs and fewer people – and even fewer qualified people – to fill roles, HR pros must keep candidates enthralled with the hiring process.
To make that happen, you’ll want to avoid the eight practices that make candidates turn away and take their talent elsewhere.
Prolong the process
Many HR professionals and hiring managers say the time to fill positions had increased since the onset of the pandemic. Makes sense, too. With fewer candidates, you might be tempted to hold out, hoping someone a little better comes along.
But that turns off job candidates, according to research from FlexJobs. If weeks – or even months – pass between the time you have contact with candidates, they will likely think twice about your organization and the role they were initially interested in.
Future employees might see the delayed reaction as a sign they won’t get support and feedback in any role from the potential employer.
Better: Stay in touch at least weekly until you or the candidate decide it’s not a right fit.
Unclear description, expectations
Candidates need to understand you just as much as you understand them before accepting a job. So many candidates will walk away when they don’t have a clear picture of the job and how they fit into it.
That happens when hiring managers and HR pros don’t pull together a current job description, plus duties and expectations. Instead, they pull up and post something that was created before COVID. Yet, the role has changed dramatically.
For instance, you might have a position described as marketing, but in reality, duties span across sales, social media and PR. If you don’t make the multi-faceted role obvious in your job posting, you might miss out on great candidates. And when candidates who aren’t the right fit start the interview process, they’ll see the discrepancies and self-eliminate.
Review and revamp every role with hiring managers before posting. Be sure to:
- clearly define the duties and expectations
- emphasize expected outcomes beyond the actual duties, and
- explain how the role interacts with other functions.
Too many tests
Job candidates for almost any position expect some sort of test. But too many tests is a huge turnoff.
If you ask candidates to spend hours in front of a screen, testing job skills, soft skills and personality traits, they’ll resent it. They might start to feel like they’re applying for a job with a computer, not a company filled with people. That’s no way to start a relationship.
Even if you still require several tests for a role, try to spread them out over the hiring journey. That way, neither you nor candidates get overwhelmed with testing – and analyzing results. Only the people who move forward in the hiring process will take all the tests that are spread out.
We’re all busy, but it’s no excuse to let anything slip through the cracks when taking candidates through your hiring process.
Job candidates are doing their best to impress you, and if your organization does any less, they won’t continue the journey.
The biggest issues often comes with hiring managers. They often aren’t as schooled in the hiring process, and don’t know the details that need attention as well as HR and talent acquisition pros know. So help them.
You’ll likely be able to keep job candidates engaged with a regular cadence of communication. To keep hiring managers engaged, too, loop them in on all communication. Then take steps to ensure they’re on time for meetings, look and act professionally, and show interest in each candidate. You might even equip them with questions to ask.
A negative image
A few things can turn off job candidates before they decide to apply to your job postings, making it even more difficult to fill roles.
For one, applicants may pull back if your job posting comes up over and over. To them, that’s an indication you have turnover issues and an existing issue with filling roles. Who wants to apply to a place where people don’t want to work?!
Social media and job sites can make the bad situation worse. Potential employees look at your reviews on sites such as Glassdoor and Reddit. If former or current employees leave negative reviews, job candidates will lose interest.
Of course, the best way to avoid a negative image is to create a positive culture. But you’ll likely never avoid having a disgruntled employee on a smear campaign. Two tips:
- Monitor and manage your reputation. When appropriate, respond to negative posts to show you want to make things right.
- Be sure to off-board. Employees who are off-boarded are two times as likely to leave positive reviews of their former employer, according to research from Capitalize. Some topics to include: how to handle their 401k, initiating a knowledge transfer, feedback on the employee experience and health insurance.
Actual interviews – in person or on Zoom – should be a natural conversation and exchange of information. Yet, many are scripted, stilted conversations that turn off candidates.
Yes, you have to avoid the legal minefield interviews can present. But knowing and asking safe questions doesn’t mean you must communicate like robots.
So make interviews online or in-person as comfortable and natural as possible. Let the job candidates ask as many questions, if not more, than you. If possible, when on-site, chat in a relaxed environment, such as a picnic bench or break room, rather than a formal conference room. Set up Zoom calls at times that are convenient for candidates so they’re most relaxed.
Perhaps one of the quickest ways to turn off candidates is to badmouth colleagues, potential supervisors, the company or its processes. HR pros will likely never do it. But some hiring managers might let cynicism or criticism sneak into interviews.
Remind anyone involved in interviews to avoid negative talk and badmouthing. And that’s not just about your organization. Remind them that it’s in bad taste to talk negatively about competitors and other employers.
Potential employees can often see through ambiguity. If you aren’t fully transparent about the job, your organization and everything surrounding those, they’ll see a red flag. Remember, candidates can dig up details – true or not – online, anytime.
One way to prove you’re transparent: Once you offer candidates a position, give them your company handbook so they can see policies, practices and values in writing. Also keep your written offers aligned exactly with the verbal offer.