Forty percent of jobseekers have turned down a job due to a bad interview experience. Recruitment Solutions explains companies need to realise they too are being interviewed.
Gone are the days when employers could enter an interview room with the attitude that they are in the seat of power. As the war for talent escalates with unemployment at its lowest rate in 33 years, the candidate is now firmly king, says Lorraine Christopher, Chandler Macleod’s Recruitment Solutions executive general manager.
This opinion is supported by recent research conducted by Recruitment Solutions among its database of office support employees, which found that 40 percent of those interviewed had turned down a job due to a bad interview experience. Even more damaging to a corporate brand, 81 percent of respondents said they would tell between one and ten people if they had a poor interview experience.
“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. 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,” says Christopher. “When advertised, an office support job receives about 14 applications on average, with about four people interviewed for the role. Given this level of response it’s not hard to treat each jobseeker in a courteous and professional way. Yet, according to our research, a massive 84 percent of respondents have received no response to a job application at some stage during their careers and 69 percent received no response after an interview.
“Job seekers are clearly looking for timely responses and feedback, with 98 percent of respondents saying they would appreciate some kind of feedback. A simple email or quick phone call can go a long way.”
First impressions count
Proving that first impressions count, 78 percent of respondents indicated that the job application and interview process was very important in shaping their view of a company.
“Even from the job ad and initial response to job applicants, employers and recruiters can show professionalism in how they engage with the jobseeker. Even if that candidate doesn’t end up in the role, if they have a positive experience of the company then they won’t forget it,” says Christopher.
Candidates are becoming confident
The research 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, 87 percent of jobseekers questioned saw interviews as an opportunity to interview a prospective employer. Interestingly, 84 percent said they felt confident about their professional worth.
“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. More often then not, they know their worth, having searched the various online job boards and spoken with their peers,” says 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.”
Discrimination is alive and well
Of greatest concern, the Recruitment Solution study revealed that 42 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination of some kind during the interview process, while 30 percent of respondents had experienced rudeness or disrespect and 22 percent had experienced inappropriate questions.
Most of the inappropriate questions asked of surveyed jobseekers focussed on their physical appearance (including their weight), their age or on personal topics such as their martial status, dating habits or sexual preference, says Christopher. “Employers simply cannot and should not get away with this line of questioning. Interviews are a place for rational discernment of a candidate’s skills, abilities and attitude. Any jobseeker that finds themselves subject to inappropriate questions about their appearance or personal life should run a mile,” she adds.
Job offers must be given in writing
A particularly shocking statistic is that 20 percent of jobseekers surveyed had received a verbal job offer which never eventuated into a job.
Jobseekers should make sure they receive a job offer in writing before taking any steps to resign from their current role, or turn down other job opportunities, says Christopher. “Unfortunately this is a reality in the job market, so candidates need to be cautious. Bear in mind that mistakes are made. 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,” she explains. “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.”
Recruitment process ‘how to’
Christopher suggests a number of tips to employers if they want to ensure a positive candidate experience:
• Prepare, prepare, prepare:
Make sure you have a set recruitment process in place to consistently manage the job application, interview and job offer stages.
• Respond in a timely manner and set a timeframe: Make sure you respond to job applicants quickly, and that you clearly state the anticipated timeframe for each stage of the process. As a guide, if you interview a candidate on a Monday, then you should be ready to make the job offer by Friday, otherwise they’ll hit the job ads first thing Saturday morning looking for other options.
• Put it in writing: Make sure any verbal offer is quickly put in writing. If the candidate has any sense, they won’t make any move until they have the offer in writing. This stage can also clarify the role and clear up any misunderstandings which might have arisen during the interview stage.
• Treat candidates as potential customers: Remember candidates are not just potential employees, they may be existing or potential customers, or they could be a relative of your biggest customer or client. Make sure they have a positive experience whether they end up employed or not. It doesn’t take much; in fact, 52 percent listed being treated with respect and courtesy as the most important factor when going for a job.
• Pick up the phone: Sometimes we hide behind email and the connection is lost. Make a personal connection by speaking with the candidate over the phone. This is also the most effective way to get an initial feel for the candidate, particularly their inter-personal and communication skills.
• Look for the positive: During the interview, make an effort to look out for the positives in a candidate rather than just focussing on the negative. Your positivity will put the candidate at ease and enable them to best answer your questions and provide more information, rather than closing up due to nerves.
• Company website vital: 97 percent of job seekers surveyed looked at the company website before an interview – make it count.
• Provide feedback: While this process doesn’t come naturally to everybody, it is highly valued by job seekers. Clearly and carefully ex
plain the reasons why they weren’t successful in their application. There are a number of occasions where a simple misunderstanding has lead to a person being ‘screened’ out of the process when they were in fact one of the most suitable candidates.
*Chandler Macleod is a HR outsourcing and recruitment company.