Flipping the Script: What Shoddy Candidate Experience Looks Like

Growing up, do you remember what it was like to discover new hobbies?


Whether through books, television or a close group of friends, if you were anything like me, you were always on the prowl for that single pastime that would soon become your life’s passion.


Thankfully, a girl like me couldn’t have asked for more patient parents. Though oftentimes expensive, whether swimming, music, boating or skiing they were alwayswilling to support me.


Believe it or not, though it’s been years since I shared a roof with the ‘rents’, I still find myself doing more of the same as a full-blown entrepreneur …


Seriously, I don’t know what it is, but as a sales fanatic within the startup, sales space, I have this thing where I go through different stages of excitement.


For example, when I first started blogging, I couldn’t get enough of startup survival—it’s a tough world to navigate, and I was set (still am) on helping startups see widespread sales success.


From there, it was emotional intelligence (EQ) that caught my eye (still does).


Now, nearing the end of a fruitful 2016, it’s improving candidate experience that keeps me awake at night (always has been top of mind). I know, I know—pretty strange stuff, huh?


This Story Strikes Close to Home…


Back to the task at hand, one of my beyond talented former colleagues and close friends recently had repeated not-so-stellar run-ins with candidate experience while in pursuit of a new sales role, adding fuel to the fire of my most recent obsession.


Making matters worse (here’s where the irony comes in), some of the well-known HR Tech companies she interviewed with are touting their ability to provide their customers with a refreshing approach to delivering smarter, better and more engaging candidate experience solutions.


Unfortunately, for her, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth…


Seeing as how we’ve known each other longer than I can remember, upon learning about how she’d been treated and her appalling candidate experience (amongst all of the others I hear about daily), I knew I had to tell her story.


Yup, you guessed it—that’s precisely what today’s post will cover.


No worries—this won’t be one of those once-upon-a-time fairytales that drones on forever.


Instead, using her own words from time to time, I’ll share with you the five most prominent problems she encountered with candidate experience while looking for the right fit.


Yes, it saddens me that she’s quickly become the Joan of Arc of candidate experience, but if your business learns anything from her craptastic story, her struggles won’t have been in vain.


And so it begins…


1) Don’t Waste an Applicant’s Time


I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—time is a person’s most precious commodity. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, once it’s gone, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to get it back.


As such, when on the prowl for your next game-changing hire, don’t waste the time of a prospect who doesn’t fit the mold of what you’re looking for.


Shockingly, this doesn’t sit well with people …


Her Words, Not Mine: “Nobody likes to waste their time. If I don’t clearly sit in a territory for which you’re actively hiring, let me know right from the get-go. I’m happy to take part in an introductory or exploratory call, but employers must manage expectations properly. Be upfront, it’s that simple.”


2) Automation—the Good, the Bad & the Ugly


Don’t get me wrong—automation in the workplace is awesome and valuable. That said, the more mechanized your recruitment tasks become, the more you start to sound like a robot—people don’t like this.


Listen, it’s perfectly fine to automate and streamline. However, once a person begins talking with another human being, the significance of automation begins to change. Especially as the process continues and more time is invested with all parties involved.


Her Words, Not Mine: “Automation can be a great thing for employers. For incoming candidates, however, it can quickly leave a bitter taste in their mouths. For me, I’ve seen this a number of times. And don’t think for a moment that I keep quiet about it—mentioning a business by name, I tell others to be leery of working for them.”


3) Keep Assessments In Check


Assessments are easily one of the best tools a recruiter or hiring manager has at their disposal.


Whether you decide to test an applicant’s hard skills, personality or emotional aptitude(big in sales), they promise to help hiring managers find the right fit the first time around.


Still, don’t get stir-crazy with these things—there’s a time and a place for them.


For instance, forcing candidates to submit a completed personality test with their résumés is a bit off-putting. Also, there’s a good chance a skilled software developer would be annoyed by having to take a lengthy test to quantify their EQ when they largely work alone.


See what I mean? Use assessments, but use them wisely. Also understand what you’re using them for and how to truly interpret them. Most assessments I find are regarded as a “necessary evil that nobody really pays attention to anyway, but is a good way to filter people out later on if we don’t like them” (mind blown and not in a good way ladies and gentleman).


Her Words, Not Mine: “I’m applying for a sales position, and you want me take an hour-long algebra test? In this case, as far as I’m concerned, ‘X = no thank you.’ It’s crazy to think that I’ve encountered this sort of thing, but while hunting for a job, it was a regular occurrence.” “Furthermore, there was zero follow up on the results to walk through the details together. If I’ve taken the time upfront, you should take the time to communicate the outcomes. Regardless if I’m your candidate or not, have the decency to provide valuable insights that can help me in the future.”


4) Recruiters If You Don’t Like People, Exit Stage Left


This one’s easy—hire recruiters with an actual personality and true desire to hire the best people for the job because they care about the task at hand while creating a winning process for all parties involved. Anything less should not be tolerated. You’re talking about the very important task of finding the right people for your business. How can you continue to thrive and grow when your front line is broken? This is a people-centric job, if you don’t like people or dealing with them, get out of recruiting…STAT.


Why? Well, truth be told, part of providing a great candidate experience is creating a memorable candidate experience with a well communicated process with expectations set early and often. Kind, energetic and fun-loving recruiters have proven to make this happen.


These are the kinds of things run-of-the-mill recruiters bring up during interviews:


•   ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’

•   ‘What is your salary history?’

•   ‘What questions do you have about the role (and then not be able to answer them to defer to someone else)?”


Making matters worse, they’ve usually got that glassy-eyed, I’d rather be anywhere else look about them while you do your best rattle of a few thoughtful answers—talk about an awful situation …


Needless to say, make likable recruiters with a true passion for their craft a cornerstone of any and all hiring interactions.


Her Words, Not Mine: “I interviewed with five different companies. Of them, only one had a personable, engaging recruiter that understood the process and could communicate effectively while setting my expectations appropriately. When I spoke with her, I felt that she had my best interests at heart. The others? Their work was rote, causing me to feel like just another candidate.”


5) Make the Most of Saying, ‘No’


I get it—nobody wants to be the person that’s tasked with turning down a job applicant.


Trust me on this one—throughout the course of my 20+ years in sales, HR Tech and recruiting, this has been one of the few parts of the job I genuinely loathe with every fiber of my being.


With that in mind, however, there’s a good way to go about doing things …


First and foremost, give honest feedback. If a candidate isn’t well-suited for the job in question, give them specific takeaways as to why that’s the case—they’ll greatly appreciate your honesty and can learn from it for future use.


Additionally, if the candidate isn’t suited for the role in question, but you really liked what they brought to the table, consider if there’s another void in your company that they could fill.


This level of communication should always happen! How would you like it if you were to invest hours of your time, taking away from your professional and personal life to proceed through the interview process to be left with zero feedback and a genuine feeling of “what happened?” Just because someone doesn’t make it to the hire stage doesn’t mean they are bad, not worthy of a conversation or could be a potential hire in the future. They also have several means of communication themselves and can help you evangelize your brand for other potential hires. Alternatively, they can absolutely communicate and most likely will their negative experience to the masses. How could you blame them?


In the end, this saves you time, energy and money on future hires.


PS, the stale rejection form letter is a thing of the past and does more harm than good. Remember, it’s all about the golden rule people!


Her Words, Not Mine: “While looking for work, I was turned away by a few companies. I’m not bitter—rejection is just part of the process. Whatever you do, though, please don’t tell me to ‘routinely check out’ your website for future openings—this is extra salt in the wound and the last thing I’d ever want to do when treated poorly.”




What does every good story have? That’s right—a happy ending.


After sitting down for interviews with five different companies, she finally found the job she was looking for. And no—just in case you were wondering, the company she chose wasn’t one of the aforementioned five …


Unlike them, they took the time to treat her well and communicate through the process. Because of it, she’ll happily return the favor.


That’s all she wrote, folks—I’ve said my piece, and now it’s time for you to say yours!


In the comments section below, talk openly about your involvement (both good and bad, please) with candidate experience. That way, as a body of readers, we’re able to learn from them.


Until then, thanks for reading about a topic that is so very near and dear to my heart!