The candidate experience

It’s been an interesting week at RARE HQ. Some of my career coaching clients have been on the receiving end of some bad behavior from prospective employers. Today, I am going to share a little about their experience, so that you as a leader can learn what NOT to do when hiring people, and instead how to show up with respect for candidates during a job search.  

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. Here are two examples of candidate experiences from my career coaching clients. 

One client had a telephone interview and then was called in for a second interview. It went well and my client followed up with a thank you note. They hadn’t heard back from the company a week later, so they followed up with an email. Crickets. They followed up with a phone call – left a voicemail. Three weeks later, they still haven’t heard back. I think this is what the young people call ghosting. 

Another made it to the last round of interviews, was in the final 2, thought everything was going very well, even met the CEO and executive team. And then received an automated email saying they were unsuccessful. 

Cue me slowly banging my head against the wall…  


This kind of thing is just not okIt’s poor form, disrespectful, and ultimately, bad for business.

When I am working on employment branding for my business clients, we pay very close attention to the candidate experience during the recruitment process. The hiring process actual serves 2 purposesYes, you are looking to find the best person for the role. AND it’s an employment branding exercise – telling the market about what it is like to work in your business. The aim is to leave every candidate wanting to work with you. Regardless of whether they land the role. 

Remember friends, the recruitment process is a two-way street, and candidates are interviewing your business as much as you them.  So, to keep a healthy talent pool, you need for each candidate to be willing to apply for roles with your business in the future. It is part of positioning your business as an employer of choice. And key to it all, is treating candidates with respect. 

There are many different tools, strategies and interventions we can use to help clients improve their candidate experience. But my baseline, non-negotiable rule for any recruitment process is this:
If you have conducted any interview with a candidate – on the phone, via Zoom, in person – and they are not moving on to the next stage, this information needs to be shared in a phone call. And the person making the call needs to be the person who interviewed them. Period.

You can follow up with an email of course, but a phone conversation is a simple mark of respect. And it costs NOTHING! 

Here’s the thing about having that phone conversation: it can be uncomfortable. For many of us, telling someone that they are not moving on to the next phase can be hard. I get it! Especially when you have met them. We worry about hurting people’s feelings. But the kindest and most respectful thing you can do is to be clear and have the conversation. Being willing to have these tricky conversations shows candidates that you respect them, that you value their time and that the culture of the workplace is one where people are valued.  The tricky conversation is very important in making sure that every candidate leaves the process still wanting to work in your organization. 

Shameless plug alert: I just announced a people whispering masterclass called Tackling Tricky Conversations with Your Team. If you are interested in learning more about tricky conversations and practice getting comfortable with those uncomfortable moments, this workshop is for you. You can find out more about it here. 

Now, back to the experience that my career coaching clients had. I am biased, for sure, but my clients are extremely talented, smart, emotionally intelligent and hard working. And you know that birds of the feather thing, right? My clients tend to mix with other people who are also talented, smart, have high EQ and are hard working.  And this experience which they have probably shared with their friends, has left a bad taste in their mouth. So not only will these talented clients never apply for a role at those organizations againNEITHER WILL THEIR TALENTED FRIENDS! 

These businesses just shrunk their future talent pool, my clients are feeling like they dodged a bullet, and it all could have been different with a simple phone conversation 

Until next week,