Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

It’’s All in the Timing: How to Manage Interview Candidates’

The interview process can often be a long and laborious one. The effort of going through the same questions again and again for hours on end can be exhausting.

It can be akin to going on an 8-hour speed dating session, but without a bar present to help you get through it. Therefore, when it is all over it can be tempting to wrap up all the loose ends as quickly as possible. You can then put the whole experience behind you and move on to something else until the chosen candidate (if there is one) is about to start.

But be warned: being too keen to reject fallen candidates can very easily backfire!

The interview veneer:

We are all guilty of masking our true feelings or putting on a show. I am sure we have all muttered the phrase ‘”Lovely to see you again’!” when the in-laws pay a visit and it is exactly the same in interviews.

When you ask the candidate of choice if they have any other questions and they respond

“‘When do I start?’”

…you desperately want the sentiment to be genuine. But don’’t be fooled – no matter how enthusiastic the interviewee seems to be it may simply be a façade.

You may fall at the first hurdle following the initial offer with a “‘Thanks, but no thanks“’ but if not, you also have references and counter-offers to negotiate following the verbal acceptance. It is not a done deal until a contract has been signed.

So, don’’t reject worthy candidates too soon as there is every chance you may have to go back to them in a rather sheepish manner or even start the interview process again when it could have been avoided!

‘So when am I likely to hear?’

It is better to give yourself some wiggle room when it comes to managing candidates’’ expectations regarding when a decision is likely to be made.

Ideally, make a decision quickly and give yourself a few days to allow enough time for the references of the chosen candidate to be checked, the offer to go out and counter-offers to be negotiated. If it doesn’’t work out with your first-choice candidate then it is better for the second-in-line to think that there has been a slight delay in the decision-making process rather than them knowing for certain that they are the second choice.

This knowledge may even put them off considering the job altogether, as no-one likes to be 2nd best!

Don’’t be disheartened:

It is often difficult to move on when you have been rejected by your chosen candidate as sub-consciously you have already imagined have them sitting in the office, and fantasized about how well they are going to fit in with the team and what a great job they are going to do.

But, don’’t despair! Your back-up candidate maybe equally as good – you just haven’’t yet pictured them in that scenario. It has happened to me on several occasions when a position has gone to my second choice candidate and, in hindsight, it has often turned out for the better.

However, on the flipside, only appoint them if they are actually suitable. It is not worth taking on someone you have doubts about just to save you from going through the interview process again. You will always regret it in the long run as they will cause you problems further down the line.

It is beneficial to score candidates on key criteria throughout the interview process as a reminder of their suitability as your memory of each candidate’s performance will fade fast following the interviews. Using a competency framework to great effect will ensure that all candidates are considered against the same criteria and are scored fairly.

Never say never:

High performing candidates are very difficult to identify and attract. If you are in the luxurious position of having to reject a candidate who you would have happily employed, then pay them just as much attention as the chosen candidate.

Having fulfilled the role you have been working hard to fulfill, it can be easy to forget the future and your future hiring requirements. Another role may materialize that the rejected candidate would be perfect for and by putting in the groundwork at the rejection stage and leaving the candidate with a positive impression of the company will increase your chances of them accepting a role in the future.

‘We’re not worthy:

It seems to be standard practice these days for businesses to state that “‘If you haven’t heard from us by [this date], you haven’’t been successful’…“.

It is understandable why companies introduce these practices when everyone is so very busy, but it is worthwhile contacting rejected candidates and providing them feedback even if there will never be an occasion when you would potentially hire them. They may have talented friends who may be put off applying to your company because of their experience.

Also, if you are a B2C organization the candidate and her friends and family may be current or future customers and it would be beneficial to have them as advocators of the business. So put yourself in the reject candidates’ position and treat them how you would like to be treated if you were in their situation.

After all, we have all been there (yes, …even you!) and you may even save yourself time and resources in the long run.

By Newman Stewart

Newman Stewart is an Executive Search and Management Selection company who helps excellent businesses employ excellent people. We are experts in our field and proud of the results we achieve for our clients. With a vast proven track record of success, nationally and internationally, we are the retained, recruitment partner of choice to many national, multi-national and small businesses.