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What happened to candidate care?

Why aren't we looking after all candidates, not just the one the wins the job?

By D-DonohoePublished about a month ago 4 min read
What happened to candidate care?
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Over the past few months, I’ve applied for quite a lot of jobs, I’ve done a lot of interviews and I must say that I’ve experienced some poor care for candidates, or at least the candidates that aren’t successful in getting the position.

Why not prioritize recruitment processes?

I’m no stranger to running recruitment processes and I like to think that I treat these processes professionally. I try to complete these processes as quickly as possible to ensure that the top applicant gets offered the job, and positions aren’t left vacant for too long. I mean, we’re all busy so of course, we want bums back on seats.

I have, however, experienced jobs where almost two months after advertising the employers are contacting me for an interview. I’ve had others where three months after the interview they will let me know of the outcome, via email.

If your processes are legitimately taking that long, then maybe you need to look at how to make them more efficient. In a tight job market, the best applicants will be fielding multiple job offers. Some have had legitimate reasons for the delay in contact (panel members unexpectedly falling ill etc), but others have just not prioritized the process.

Like I said, I know we’re all busy, but there should be a little bit of courtesy in here. My belief has always been that if someone has taken the time to prepare for an interview and given up their time for me, the least I can do is show them the courtesy of a phone call and give them some feedback to let them know why they weren’t the successful candidate on this occasion.

Would you like some feedback?

That does segue neatly to the next part, giving an unsuccessful candidate feedback. There is always a reason why we picked one candidate above all the rest. Maybe they just provided stronger examples, or they had more relevant current skills, or sometimes it comes down to whether they are going to be a better fit in a team. Years ago, I was asked by someone how I got my CV to the standard that it was, and my answer was simply “because I always seek feedback to find out where I can improve”.

Lately, it’s been like pulling teeth to get any meaningful feedback beyond “Oh, it was just a very competitive field”. A month after requesting feedback from a recruitment panel chair, I’m still waiting on the promised phone call.

Another job had the HR person ring to tell me I didn’t get the job so I requested feedback from the panel on where I could have improved, she promised to have the panel chair call me. When I hadn’t heard from the panel chair, I followed up with an email. Eventually, the same HR person emailed back with the following:

“I have been in contact with the panel members and have been advised that the selection process for the position produced a very competitive field of candidates, and whilst all of the candidates interviewed on the day were deemed as being Suitable to for fill the requirements of the role one candidate stood out as the preferred candidate based on experience, skills, attributes and performance at interview”.

Doesn’t really tell me how I can improve myself, or what new skills/attributes I should develop.

The list where good candidates go to die.

Lastly is the use of merit lists, although I don’t know how much merit is in a merit list. I am currently sitting on probably six merit lists, yet I haven’t received a single phone call asking me if I’m keen on a similar job with a particular department or agency, even though I see these new recruitment processes from the same departments taking place. Talking to someone on a merit list doesn’t mean you have to hire them. But if you do, you might find the perfect candidate, saving you the time and energy that goes into recruitment.

In an interview last week, I mentioned that I was already on a merit list with that same organization. The panel chair seemed genuinely shocked and asked, “Why didn’t we just take you off that merit list?” Alas, it was the only question in that interview I didn’t have a good answer for.

A recent discussion with a panel chair giving me the bad news tried to cheer me up by letting me know that I was found suitable and would be placed on a merit list. When I questioned how much they got used, he replied, “Oh I don’t use them, I’d much rather run my own process”.

What does it mean?

Nobody is happy to miss out on a job that they are keen on, but that doesn’t mean that the process needs to make them feel any less valued for their time and effort. Poor recruitment experiences for unsuccessful candidates can mean that they don’t apply for the next role that’s a perfect fit for them and the organization, or the employer gets a bad reputation.

Giving meaningful feedback not only ensures a candidate is able to improve and get better, but also eliminates allegations of favoritism in the hiring process. Understanding why a decision was made to pick someone different is important for a candidate, it also makes sure the panel records their reasons clearly to assist in providing feedback down the track.


About the Creator


Amateur storyteller, LEGO fanatic, leader, ex-Detective and human. All sorts of stories: some funny, some sad, some a little risqué all of them told from the heart.

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