…notice to employers…you’re taking too long…you’re losing good candidates

It happens after every recession. This is my eighth one since 1973 and here’s how it happens. When candidates are plentiful and companies are operating in a recession and operating out of fear of loss, rather than vision of gain, hiring managers invent all kinds of cockamamie “steps” in the hiring process, thinking that it’s going to keep them from “making a hiring mistake”, because they feel like they have lots of candidates to choose from and because they want to spread the risk.  They invent steps in the process, thinking that it’s going to protect them. They increase the number of interviews that a candidate has to go through. They come up with ideas like: group interviews (with half of the group comprised of people who have nothing to do with the job) testing of all sorts, interviews with external, company advisors, group presentations (just to be sure the candidate can speak in front of a group). One CEO of a small size firm wanted to get his wife’s and daughter’s opinion of a candidate (of course, they had absolutely nothing to do with the day-to-day running of the business). Years ago, a candidate and his wife were asked to go to dinner with the chairman of a bank, his wife, three of the vice presidents and their wives. After the dinner, the men asked their wives to literally vote on whether or not to hire the candidate. My candidate “lost” the election. To this day he swears it was because his wife was a whole lot more attractive than any of the other wives and the other wives just plain didn’t like it. Who knows?

Just this last month, a company  requiring our candidate  to go through a process of  having six interviews, held over a number of days get, saw its candidate hired by one of their direct competitors that initially interviewed the candidate one day with two follow-up  zoom interviews the next day and the final zoom interview the next business day and an offer… and acceptance… were made on the day after. Our client was absolutely furious from having lost out on the candidate and was exasperated,  saying, “we just can’t move that fast.”

Another one of our candidates refused to give a presentation to a group who required it is part of the interviewing process. She said, “Look, I’ve got a job that requires a lot of effort. We have three teenagers and when I’m not working, I’m parenting. I have a 20 year excellent track record in what I do, and these guys want me to make a presentation to see if I know how to make a presentation? Forget them!” It was painful, but she has a point. She has an outstanding, extremely verifiable, track record that speaks for itself. The management of the company was so myopically stuck on a procedural formality in the hiring process that it lost track of the whole reason they were speaking with her which was because she was so well known in their profession as a top performer. (She had been kicking their butt in the marketplace.)

In another situation after three interviews, our candidate was told that he had to take one more “perfunctory” interview with someone with Human Resources at the corporate office.  Unfortunately, the Human Resources Director was off for spring break. The hiring authority was caught up in his own bureaucratic red tape, saying he really didn’t have any choice but to wait. The candidate accepted another offer before the perfunctory interview could be arranged, causing the company to lose out on an excellent candidate.

All the old adages apply… time kills deals…. when you snooze, you lose, etc. The message is that this market has gotten a lot more competitive for good candidates. Whenever we come out of a recession, it usually takes about six months for hiring authorities in companies to catch on that when they drag interviewing out they are going to lose really good candidates.

Other than C-level candidates, which might be an exception, there should never be more than three, at the most, four interviews for any candidate. Nobody should be involved in the interviewing process whose livelihood doesn’t depend on the performance of the individual being interviewed.  Studies have shown that one person… yes, you read right… one person doing the hiring is no more successful than three, four or sixteen people involved in the  interviewing and hiring  process.

The company that is requiring the candidate to make a presentation instituted a new policy a few months ago requiring a candidate to study what their company does… which would take at least three or four hours… and then make a presentation to three or four executives on the benefits of their company and their product. It is doubtful that any candidate who is presently employed is going to consider doing it. This is especially true for candidates with  good track records. If they lose enough candidates to this process, they will eventually change their procedure. There’s no telling, however, how many good candidates they are going to miss.

It’s kinda sad!



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