There can be many hurdles to overcome in the recruitment process but one stands out head and shoulders above all else, namely, losing the candidate of choice.
Once candidates are sourced and screened, one can assume that for most roles there will be a handful of candidates to meet and evaluate. Thereafter, two or three will be on the short-list.
At this stage the resultant risk of losing the best candidates increases as you’ll have ruled out the other applicants – effectively pinning the success of your recruitment on two or three people.
It’s important to remember that in all stages of the recruitment process, especially from hereon, communication is absolutely vital. If you don’t have the time to communicate, then work with a colleague or consultant who does.
Let candidates know what’s happening, even if you have no concrete news. If candidates are genuinely interested in the position they will be patient if they know the current status. If they feel they are being ‘left in the wind,’ they’ll lose interest. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of burning bridges and losing viable candidates:
~ For candidates that you know won’t work, let them know politely that they have not been selected for the next stage but that you appreciate their interest in the position.
~ Advise the remaining candidates they have been selected for the next stage in the process.
~ Communicate with all the remaining candidates equally, even if you have a number one selected.
At this point you may only have the budget/resource to test or enter into detailed dialogue with your number one candidate. However, if you can manage to do this with your number two, too then it’s a good contingency plan. And don’t keep the process a secret. Communicate!
~ Let candidates know that they and one or two others are strong contenders.
~ Explain that it’s important to get to know as much as possible about the short-listed candidates hence the next stage in the process (also giving candidates the opportunity to find out more about the job).
Once you have decided to make an offer to one candidate DON’T stop communicating with the others. Assuming your number two (and possibly number three) choices would also be good candidates then consider the following updates to them:
~ Advise that they are not eliminated from the process but at this stage another candidate has been selected to complete the final steps first.
~ Let the number two and three candidates know that they are still considered strong contenders and that you would value their remaining in the process – yet equally understand if they prefer to pursue other opportunities.
Not all candidates will accept this but in my experience, many appreciate that only one candidate can go forward. Candidates with a real interest in the job will often choose to stay in the process rather than lose the opportunity of a job that they really want. By letting them know what’s happening in the process they are not given false hope but a realistic assessment of the situation.
All too often I see employers pin their hopes on one person and when that falls through they feel unable to go back to their number two candidate, usually because they ceased communication.
Put in the time throughout the process to communicate well and you’ll save the resource of having to start over if your recruitment goes cold.
Michele Faulkner is the owner and manager of Faulkner Recruitment, based in Nova Scotia.