Candidate Abuse And Death By Interview: Some Solutions

As I discussed in Part 1 of this article series last week, candidate abuse during the interview and hiring process is becoming increasingly common, particularly because the economy is bad and jobs are scarce. As a result, companies have gotten arrogant about how they treat candidates. Candidates themselves have become more willing to take the abuse, because job scarcity puts them at the mercy of hiring managers and recruiters. Last week, I outlined the areas in which candidates are abused during the hiring process. In this part, I’ll share some management actions that will help reduce that kind of abuse. Remember this: Treat the candidate like a customer ó because if you don’t, they might never become one!Ways To Reduce Unnecessary Interview Abuse There are a variety of tools and techniques that can help reduce the number of unnecessary interviews and interview abuse. Some of them include:

    • Educate managers about the consequences of additional interviews. Demonstrate that more interview time actually decreases the quality of the person hired.


  • Set a target number of interviews (usually three) and allow additional interviews only in special cases.
  • Encourage “one-day” interviewing by suggesting to managers (or making it a rule) that all interviews for a single candidate must be scheduled and completed in one day.
  • Assign specific interview questions to the appropriate interviewers and periodically run tests to ensure the same questions are not arduously repeated in follow-up interviews.
  • Offer interviews during trade conferences, at night, or on weekends, when candidates are more available.
  • Track the time to hire and reward managers for fast hiring.
  • Provide candidates with anonymous satisfaction surveys and reward managers and recruiters who show high scores.
  • Develop web-based scheduling systems that allow managers and recruiters to more easily coordinate schedules to allow for same-day interviews.
  • Conduct “whole team” interviews, so that all of the managers and interviewers can answer questions during a single session.
  • Use teleconference, telephone, or computer video interviews to eliminate the need for candidates to visit your site for any interview.
  • Educate applicants about the interview process, tell them upfront what you’re assessing during each interview, and give them an estimate on how long the process is likely to take.
  • Provide candidates with immediate and accurate feedback in order to give them an opportunity to improve and reapply.
  • Respect the applicant’s time when you request information from them. Cut the length of application forms, reference checks, approvals, and interviews to the minimum.
  • Don’t treat all applicants the same. You should make all applicants feel special, but at the same time realize that top performers demand a higher level of customer service than the average worker.
  • Give the candidates periodic updates on where they are in the process and include feedback on how they are doing. Never keep applicants in the dark or force them to call you to find out how they are doing. When they complete each step in the process tell them what they did right and what they need to do “more of or less of.” Add a web page (with password security) so applicants can check on their own progress.
  • Train recruiters in customer service. Use “mystery shoppers” and questionnaires to help assess how well recruiters are doing in the customer service area.
  • Make the process user-friendly. Don’t make candidates guess. Tell them how to dress and what kind of questions they can expect. Do your best to make the process less adversarial and more of an information-sharing process among equals.
  • Survey the managers involved to see if they were satisfied with the process and the output.
  • When you reject someone, don’t cut off all communication with them. Put them on your newsletter mailing list, offer them product discounts, etc. For soon-to-be-qualified applicants and those who reject your offers, continue to send them corporate information and job openings electronically.

Conclusion The costs of interview abuse are great both to the firm and the candidate. It unduly stresses candidates, decreases the number of applications by currently employed individuals, and hurts your firm’s image while simultaneously increasing financial costs. By educating managers and HR professionals about the value of reducing interview abuse, you help increase the quality of your hires and make the entire interview process friendlier to both managers and applicants alike. Think of the employment department as a retail store. As customers come in, you need to give them information, answer their questions, and in general make them feel like they have made a wise investment of their time. If you treat applicants with class they might even reapply at a later date (when you have an opening or after their skills increase). Satisfied applicants may later become customers or might someday be in a position to recommend your firm or product to others. Job applicants are much like restaurant visitors: they quietly remember their good experiences, but they go out of their way to tell others about their bad experiences. Abandon the “my way or the highway” approach to interviewing and start treating all recruitment as a form of product sales and brand development!

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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