Archive for February, 2011

Your Flight is Delayed

February 18, 2011

What goes through your mind when you hear those words?  How does your body react?  Most people’s heart rate increases, anxiety kicks up a few notches, and suddenly a whirlwind of hypotheticals consume your thoughts.  “When will we ever take off?  When will we ever get an update on the flight status?  What if I miss my connection?  What happens if I miss the meeting?”  If you’re like me, you start feeling clammy as cortisol rushes through your veins.  You were in control a moment ago and everything was going as planned, but now frustration and helplessness set in.  You start to think nasty thoughts about the airline.  I keep my hair cut short just for these situations – so I can’t pull it out!

Imagine how candidates feel when you’ve brought them in for interviews.  There’s a heightened level of excitement and anticipation.  All the preparation, and for that matter, all the sweat equity built up over years of work in various positions for a variety of companies, comes down to this critical interview that could lead to a major career milestone.  There’s a lot at stake.

The interview occurs, both sides come away with a strong sense of both a job and cultural fit.  Then, for no explicable reason, radio silence – day after day.  Suddenly a week has passed and the candidate has no clue where they stand.  All the positive energy that came out of the interview has since dissipated and multiple questions and hypotheticals arise.  “Is this how the execs typically run the company?  Are their employees routinely left in the dark on important matters?  Is this a sign that maybe this isn’t the right career move for me after all?”  The flight is delayed.

One of my biggest pet peeves in recruitment is when both hiring executive and candidate jointly determine after an interview that there is a potentially strong fit, only to see the hiring executive drop the ball on communications regarding feedback and next steps.  Granted, most hiring managers’ plates runneth over.  It’s not like business stops so they can concentrate on hiring.  They have fires to put out, projects and initiatives that are in full swing, travel, meetings, and calls.  They are overbooked, overcommitted, and as usual, overwhelmed.  I get it.  I was a VP once.

Yet, if you don’t meet your hiring objectives, then guess what?  Your business objectives will suffer.  Getting back to my pet peeve, it is highly disconcerting when I’m executing what is deemed a critical search, only to find that I exude a greater sense of urgency than the hiring executive.  What’s wrong with this picture?

As a hiring company, you’re trying to attract top talent.  The manner in which you carry out the interview process speaks volumes to a candidate.  It provides them with a glimpse into how you run your business, your sense of prioritization, your communications skills, and the health and well-being of your culture.  If you delay your candidate’s “flight,” you should be highly sensitive to the ramifications.  Sure, candidates need to demonstrate flexibility and understanding, rolling with the usual onslaught of unforeseen punches.  But delays get old fast and candidates will invariably second-guess their decision to engage with you and compare your process with that of other suitors.  Their excitement with the opportunity may get tarnished; their newfound anxiety quickly migrating to exasperation.

All of this is easily avoidable.  Don’t delay the hiring process.  As the job market pendulum swings back in the other direction, I can assure you that your competitors (i.e. other hiring companies) are aggressively courting your candidates.  And as great as your opportunity may be, other hiring companies know how to favorably position their openings as well.

Should delays crop up, communicate.  Better yet, communicate regularly.  If it feels like you’re overcommunicating with your candidates, then it’s probably happening at the right level.  Sure, your recruiter can and will do much of it on your behalf, but their words won’t carry the same impact.  At the end of the day, treat the candidates you value as if they’re already employees.  If you delay the flight, the onus is on you to raise the comfort level and provide updates on the flight status.

Action Items:

1.  Companies that make their open positions more attractive to candidates do so in part by running a streamlined and efficient hiring process, portraying an organization that has its act together and prioritizes both the position and the candidates.

2.  Ideally, the hiring process should be run with a perpetual sense of momentum and urgency.

3.  Refrain from delays in the hiring process.  But if unavoidable delays occur, overcommunicate to candidates in order to preserve the interest, rapport, and goodwill established up to that point.

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