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6 Things Job Candidates Wish Hiring Managers Understood

6 Things Job Candidates Wish Hiring Managers Understood

I will likely never forget a job interview I had that lasted less than 10 minutes. It was with a local company, and they invited me to interview for the role. The hiring manager asked me about a particular skill set. I told her I had no experience in that area but was more than happy to learn. She said it was a critical requirement and abruptly ended the interview. Yikes! This “critical” element of the role wasn’t in the job description and there was nothing in my resume to suggest I had that experience.  

It didn’t end there. The hiring manager called a week later and asked me to come back and meet with their executive team. They had reconsidered how the role would be structured and determined that particular experience may not be as critical. I declined and continued my job search.  

As a talent recruiter with Goodwin Recruiting, I would like to share some insights that HR departments and hiring managers can use to ensure job seekers do not have negative experiences.  

Do your recruiting efforts help or hurt your company’s reputation?  

Busy hiring managers can lose sight of the reality that their hiring process is part of the company brand. It influences whether job candidates (and people in their circles of influence) want to work for or do future business with the company.  

That risk alone should be enough to push more companies to revisit their hiring processes. But some don’t and here’s what happens. A recent study of 90,000 job candidates concluded that 52% of candidates would reject a great job offer if they had a negative experience in the recruitment process. I experienced this sentiment as a job seeker and have heard it from job seekers as a talent recruiter.  

Here are six things that job candidates wish hiring managers understood about the hiring process – and how great companies can respond:    

  1. You are meeting candidates in their most vulnerable moments. Recognize that job candidates, especially those who are not currently working, are engaging with you in a vulnerable time in their lives. Many are under deep financial pressure, perhaps wondering how they will pay their rent or keep their homes. Many have received rejection emails or letters that caused them to question their skills, ability, and self-worth. They have gone through multiple rounds of job interviews with companies, allowing their hopes to build with each phase of the interview process, only to have their hopes dashed with a rejection at the end.

    It’s crucial that hiring managers recognize the realities of today’s job seekers. Doing so empowers employers to inject humanity into the talent recruitment and hiring process.

  2. Their time is valuable. A job candidate’s focus is on finding their next job opportunity. For those who are employed, free time for this pursuit is limited as they arrange their search around current work obligations. For those who are not working, they will on average complete well over 100 applications and many job interviews before securing their next role. Intentional or not, far too many companies convey to job seekers that their time is not valued during the application or interview process, and in today’s competitive job market, these hiring managers will lose out on great talent.

    Audit your company’s hiring process to identify and eliminate inefficiencies and time wasters. Does your application require fields to be populated that are already in the job candidate’s resume? Are lengthy assessments required for submitted job applications? Are interviewers on time and fully prepared for applicant interviews?  

  3. Talk about compensation at the beginning of the process. I remember being surprised in an interview for a job that I accepted. In the first 10 minutes of the in-person meeting, my potential employer directly asked what I needed to make. I gave him a number, and he said he could do better than that. There were no games or attempts to low-ball his offer – just two professionals discussing compensation and budgets. And he came back with a great offer. Just as there is a budget for every role, every candidate also has a budget. If the budgets don’t match, the candidate isn’t right for the role, no matter how great that candidate may be.

    Be upfront and transparent about compensation. It’s in everyone’s best interest. Do your job postings provide a salary range? If not, is salary alignment addressed in the first interview? Adapting to this now is critical, as many states and municipalities have already passed salary transparency laws and others will likely follow.  

  4. Gaps in employment don’t necessarily indicate employment issues. Many impressive candidates have gaps in their employment histories. Hiring managers often make assumptions about why those gaps exist, which causes them to miss out on ideal candidates for their teams. Perhaps that gap is a short-term job they excluded because it’s not relevant, or it was time taken off to care for a dying parent or support their spouse through chemotherapy, or maybe the candidate was one of millions of highly qualified people suddenly laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. Resumes tell the story of a candidate’s career, but careers are intricately connected to personal life circumstances, and this needs consideration in hiring decisions.

    Try not to insert assumptions into empty dates in a job candidate’s work history. The reality may be far from your assumption. As you review a resume, what assumptions are you making about the person beyond that piece of paper? If the candidate is qualified, aren’t they worthy of a conversation?  

  5. Overqualification isn’t necessarily a problem. Many candidates express tremendous frustration at being labeled “overqualified.” Hiring managers often assume (sometimes rightly) that overqualified job candidates will leave the moment a better opportunity arises. However, many job seekers have a different story. I recently had the privilege of helping a great candidate find a new job. One thing that stood out in his resume was that he had spent several years in a role higher than his current role. I asked why he took that step back in his career. He shared that he had gone through a difficult divorce and, unable to perform at his previous level, he felt it was only fair to his employer and his own reputation to step back. He stayed there for several years and got great references before looking to make a change. That’s just one example, but I talk to countless high-level leaders who are tired of the grind and want to dial it back for the benefit of their families or their mental health.

    When a job seeker seems overqualified, it’s important to ask as one of the first interview questions why they are looking to make this change. Let their answer reveal whether it’s a deal-breaker or an opportunity to hire an exceptional job candidate whose goals align with yours.

  6. No news is not good news. This is probably the most common complaint I hear from talented job candidates. Spend more than two minutes on LinkedIn and you will see job candidates with green banners on their profile pages talking about how a company completely ghosted them during the hiring process, sometimes after several job interviews. Negative reviews are not limited to LinkedIn. Social media can be brutal. But candidates are not wrong to criticize this behavior from hiring companies. Before joining Goodwin Recruiting, I participated in multiple interviews for a role and was told I was one of the top two candidates for the job. After the final interview…crickets. I had to follow up to find out they offered the position to the other candidate. Professionals who invest their time and interest in joining an organization deserve to know where they stand.

    As mentioned, job seekers are vulnerable when they are job hunting. Bad news, as unpleasant as it may be to deliver, is better than no news. Do your recruiting processes and systems ensure that all candidates receive communication and updates from you, no matter how unpleasant, about their status in your hiring process? If not, make it a priority to ensure this is part of your process going forward. 

Get more good insights and fast access to top talent  

Talent acquisition and retention are among the biggest challenges for today’s companies. If you’re looking for ways to improve your recruitment and employee retention strategies, or if you have a key mid-management or leadership role to fill, get in touch with me today. As a talent recruiter with Goodwin Recruiting, I would love to help you build a stronger hiring process and team to drive your success in 2024.