When you tell someone they’re hired, odds are they’re happy to hear the news. But you also want top job applicants who don’t make the final cut to feel good about their experience with your company. After all, perhaps a position will become available for which a runner-up is a perfect fit. (GE Capital’s U.S. talent recruitment leader Kim Warne calls this the “silver medalist program.”)
To find out whether you’re leaving a bad taste in candidates’ mouths, Joris Luijke (@meJoris), talent chief at software company Atlassian, suggests surveying them about the interview process to see where it could be adjusted.
“Over a longer period of time,” Luijke writes on his blog, Culture Hacking, “the stats reveal when a process for a certain role isn’t working well; what we can improve; and what we should keep doing.”
We reached out to Luijke for a little more detail on what his process looks like. He offered this example via e-mail: Candidates for developer positions at Atlassian are asked to take a short coding test. A follow-up survey indicated that the candidates were upset they didn’t receive feedback on how they did on the test. So Atlassian began offering feedback to some candidates. This helped the company determine how much feedback had improved candidate satisfaction. “The survey [did] two things,” Luijke tells Build. “Firstly, (before using surveys,) we would have struggled to identify this frustration amongst developer candidates. Secondly, it would have been difficult to test the possible solution.”
Luijke acknowledges that survey results may be influenced by the negative biases of candidates who aren’t hired. But that just makes it all the more important to develop an awesome system, he says. “If we can make the process rock for everyone — including those who were rejected — we know we have a truly fantastic, fair, and responsive selection process.”
On a more qualitative note, part of providing an excellent experience for job candidates involves how you let hopefuls know they didn’t get the job. Management consultant Alison Green writes on Intuit’s QuickBase blog about the four ways not to let an applicant down. She leads off by saying not to do it over the telephone. “Phone calls put candidates on the spot: They have to react to the rejection while they’re still in the immediate moment of disappointment. It’s awkward. And the call often creates a moment of false hope, which then dissipates when the candidate has to pull it together to be gracious about disappointment seconds later.”