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Is the recruitment process broken?

Focusing on candidate experience while selecting the right talent


February 25, 2020
By Brian Kreissl

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Photo: tadamichi/Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, I have been discussing how the power dynamics in the labour market are shifting in many ways. While employers used to hold all the cards, the perception in recent years is that candidates are starting to have considerably more power.

As a result, many career counsellors are starting to promote the message that job applicants have choices and no longer need to bow and scrape before employers.

Don’t feel like you have even half the qualifications the job posting is asking for? Then apply anyway.

Don’t like the applicant tracking system or think your resumé gets sent into a “black hole” after applying? Then find some other way into the organization through networking, e-mailing your resumé or a hard copy application.

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Don’t like dealing with HR and feel they make the job search process too cumbersome and obsess to much about details like “cultural fit?” Then go around them by applying directly to the hiring manager.

Don’t like the questions you’re being asked during the interview? Then politely refuse to answer the questions and instead answer the questions you would prefer to be asked.

Don’t like the question and answer format of the interview? Then try to turn it into a conversational chat that’s more of a “getting to know one another” exercise.

Don’t like the interview process overall or feel you aren’t being treated the way you should be treated? Then bow out of the recruitment process and even consider cutting the interview short.

If the organization doesn’t know how to treat you as a candidate, that’s likely not a company you want to work for anyway, right? If they can’t treat you with dignity and respect, perhaps they don’t deserve you after all?

Talent acquisition broken in many organizations

Social media (especially LinkedIn) is full of advice like the above, and as an HR practitioner and former recruiter (and frustrated jobseeker in the past), I can totally empathize and understand why this advice is so appealing. The truth is the talent acquisition process is largely broken in many organizations, and employers often still act like they’re in the depths of a recession and can be extremely choosy with candidates and treat them like serfs.

Employers are increasingly “ghosting” candidates and failing to even communicate the “thanks but no thanks” message. In many cases, the recruitment process can drag on for months, with endless rounds of interviews, assessments, background and reference checks and very little communication.

Job postings seem to be getting more and more outrageous over time. Vacancies now routinely combine what used to be two or even three jobs into one and ask for far more experience than is necessary, plus advanced education and a laundry list of skills and industry experience – sometimes even for “entry-level” positions.

How one performs in a job interview often has no correlation with how the individual would perform in the job. Interviewing is such an inexact science, and even psychometric testing can have little validity or reliability when it comes to its ability to predict who would do well in the job. Reference checks are notoriously unreliable because candidates generally use referees who have positive things to say about them.

Fixing the recruitment process

So, what can be done to fix the recruitment process in organizations? How can employers ensure they’re getting quality new hires while being fair and reasonable to candidates and ensuring they maintain a positive employer brand?

To me, one of the most important concepts is the idea of candidate experience. An important part of employer branding is ensuring candidates have a positive experience when applying for jobs with the organization.

But this doesn’t mean employers should create a country club atmosphere where interviews consist of nice comfortable chats that voluntarily cede all power to candidates. Employers still need to focus on selecting the right talent and avoiding hiring mistakes.

Nevertheless, I do believe the talent acquisition process shouldn’t be needlessly drawn out and should be as pleasant and painless an experience as possible. I also believe candidates need to be kept in the loop and be treated with dignity and respect.

Employers also need to stop relying so much on technology to find suitable candidates and stop asking for the sun, the moon and the stars in their job postings. Maybe then career counsellors will stop trying to get candidates to circumvent organizations’ recruitment processes.

Brian Kreissl is a product development manager with Thomson Reuters in Toronto. He looks after HR, payroll, OH&S, records retention and Triform. He can be reached at brian.kreissl@thomsonreuters.com or (416) 609-5886. For more information, visit https://store.thomsonreuters.ca/en-ca/home.