Protect your reputation with feedback

One of the biggest frustrations of job seekers is not being kept informed.  Not knowing whether their application has even been received.  Or looked at.  Not knowing why they have not passed the initial screening process. 

Worse – not knowing the verdict after actually taking the time to participate in an interview.  And at the extreme – not receiving any feedback after being in advanced or even final stage of an interview process. 

HR and recruitment teams are failing on this feedback element all over the world.  Ironic, because they of all people should understand the importance of information flow to maximise the candidate experience and protect the employer brand.   We hear stories on this topic daily.  Directors, VP’s and SVP’s within the HR function, hiring for their own teams, and failing to apply what should be a common courtesy. 

At some point, I suspect job seeking HR professionals are likely to harness the power of social media.   We’re already hearing of applicants who, having waited for weeks and sometimes months, figure they’re not getting the job and have nothing to lose, so are happy to name the hiring leader and/or company who has failed to show them respect., which allows anonymous postings, is an indicative barometer of work conditions within any company.  It would be a great starting point for applicants to rate their interview experience, inclusive of timeliness of feedback.  I urge hiring leaders not to dismiss the impact of this – great talent has choices on where they work and who they work for, and they’ll avoid those with poor reputations.

Shell with the support of IBM got serious about this recently.  They had a need to win in the “war for talent” and realised that they had to get serious on the candidate experience.  So every candidate going through the Shell interview process received an acknowledgment, automatically sent on behalf of the hiring manager.  It forced those managers to be accountable for feedback to candidates through a monitoring process that also allowed for "name & shame" when candidates were not treated properly.  As part of a bigger change agenda, it fundamentally changed behaviours and work practices.  It gave Shell a competitive edge of reputation for treating job seekers with respect, when the industry was booming.  And it’s why high calibre talent continues to have an interest in them as an employer, even with the downturn of the oil sector currently.

It is really quite staggering that feedback is not a key element for performance KPI’s, be it for internal teams or external vendor partners.  In 25 years of hiring, only twice have I had employer clients check how I would support on feedback to candidates.  In the hundreds of RFI’s I’ve submitted over the years, and the hundreds of SLA’s I’ve signed up to, not one has referenced the feedback element.  And yet we’ve certainly been talking about the war for talent, and the importance of the candidate experience for a good number of years now. 

I fully appreciate that most companies are not geared to time and cost effectively provide individual feedback to everyone who applies for an advertised vacancy, or applies on an unsolicited basis - automated responses are probably the only solution to address those kinds of volumes.  But when you’ve actually invested time to interview someone, there is no excuse for lack of feedback.  Either tell people instantly that they’re not suitable, or take 2 minutes to pen a note afterwards.  And check that your hiring partners take this approach too.