Prospective employers can blow the interview process just as easily as job seekers can. Many of the potential pitfalls are similar to those experienced by candidates and some are unique to the employer’s side of the equation. The jobseeker complaints listed below unfortunately are all too common.
A major jobseeker pet peeve is the moving target. If a potential employer is unclear on what it is seeking, or there is disagreement among key partners or stakeholders, it’s nearly impossible for a candidate to hit the mark. Before starting the search, a prospective employer must clarify the specifics of its strategic plan, including why they need to hire, how the new employee or member will fit into the firm, the functions that person will perform, and the skills and qualities necessary to fulfil those functions successfully. Once the target is crystal clear, that information must be communicated to candidates as well as to inside and outside recruiters working on the search.
Candidates also are turned off by long, drawn-out recruitment processes with multiple meetings, long pauses between steps, and lack of feedback and clarity about next steps. While candidates understand that deadlines and client emergencies arise and that it’s difficult to coordinate the calendars of busy lawyers, repetitive delays, cancellations, and rescheduling lead them to wonder about the hiring firm’s interest in filling the position or in their candidacy, in particular. It also may cause speculation about the firm’s apparent lack of organization and direction.
Of course, any potential employer seeks a candidate who fits all aspects of the bill perfectly, meeting or exceeding each desired background and experience specification in addition fitting the culture and falling within the desired compensation range. But, seeking perfection is unrealistic in most circumstances and gets in the way of effectively filling the hiring need within a reasonable time. When developing the job description and ideal candidate profile, employers must determine which criteria are “must haves” and which are “nice to haves” and set priorities. A strong candidate may come in an unexpected package, so it’s best to keep an open mind.
One of the biggest recruiting offenses is not valuing the candidate’s time. Any good lawyer is busy and will resent long waits in the reception area. If you know the interviewers will be delayed, call ahead and reschedule or another interviewer. Don’t waste the candidate’s time, however, by substituting in someone of much lesser status or who does not know anything about the position or background required.
Respect ending times just as much as starting times. Try to stay on schedule, especially if there are several meetings lined up for the candidate on a given day. If the interviews run late or long, check with the candidate to make sure the extended time fits in his or her schedule. If necessary, push the remaining interviews to another day.
Eliminate or minimize interruptions. Don’t take phone calls unless absolutely necessary. Attorney candidates understand that clients have emergencies. If the situation is urgent, request the candidate’s understanding and substitute another interviewer or reschedule the meeting for a time when all parties can focus on the hiring process.
Bad interview technique
Poor interviewers, in general, are high on the list of candidate turn-offs. There are many ways the interviewer can blow the interview. While most lawyers assume they have excellent people and communications skills, they may need some training to ensure they’re asking legal and appropriate questions designed to elicit the information necessary for making the best hiring decisions.
Just as candidates should research the firm or company to prepare for an interview, they resent prospective employers who have not done their homework. Interviewers must read the candidate’s resume beforehand and review the requirements of the open position so that they can ask effective questions. Candidates hate wasting time providing answers easily ascertained by a quick glance at the resume. They also bristle at personal or inappropriate questions or being asked the same questions repeatedly, where the various interviewers clearly aren’t communicating with each other.
Lack of basic etiquette repels jobseekers. They ask themselves, “If this is how they treat me while trying to entice me to join their organization, what will it be like after I’m on board?” Interviewers, like jobseekers, must be on their best behavior and avoid using profanity, smoking, or telling questionable jokes. Other turn-offs include hearing the interviewers bad-mouth their own firm or each other or not being enthusiastic about the organization. Another no-no is denigrating other firms where the candidate might be interviewing. Anyone that the candidate interacts with, sees, or hears should be presenting the firm in its best possible light. And, that means no yelling or loud arguments within candidate earshot!
Treat candidates with care. When you invite someone to your organization for an interview, you are a host and must extend hospitality to your guests. Poor handling includes: lack of flexibility in scheduling interviews; not providing necessary information such as clear directions to the office, parking instructions, or a list of people they will meet; having no one prepared to greet them, or escort them between meetings, or to the exit at the end of the interviews; not validating parking; keeping interviewees all day without feeding them or providing adequate breaks; and requiring an immediate response to an offer without adequate time to think things over.
Give some thought to providing a pleasant candidate experience. Everyone who comes to your firm should leave feeling good about your organization, whether or not you choose to hire them, as it will be reflected in your reputation in the marketplace.
Lack of follow-through
A sure-fire way for prospective employers to blow the interview process is by providing slow or no response to a candidate after the interview. At any point during the process, it’s taboo to be less than candid about anything, including any aspect of the firm, the position, the candidate’s chances, or compensation ranges. Don’t mislead or lead anyone on. Although it’s unpleasant to deliver bad news if you decide against hiring a particular candidate, delaying merely makes the situation worse. Straightforward and honest feedback does the jobseekers a favor, allowing them to adjust their approach as they move forward in their search. The very worst post-interview sin is not responding at all and ghosting the candidate.
Employers, to land your top prospects, honestly appraise all facets of your recruitment process and take affirmative steps to eliminate snags so you don’t blow it.