New resource for recruiting: Interviewing the candidates that got away

Many companies conduct exit interviews with departing employees, to gain insight into why they’re moving on. But have you ever thought of interviewing the candidates who’ve turned down your job offer?

That’s the suggestion made by executive coach Ben Dattner in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post.

What’s the payoff? Employers can pinpoint the weak spots in the overall recruiting efforts, whether salaries offered are competitive, and even gauge the effectiveness of individual interviewers. This feedback “can also give you advance warning about factors that may cause your offer rate to decline, enabling you to take proactive steps to prevent it from happening,” Dattner writes.

The big hurdle: Candidates might be a little gun-shy about being completely candid about why they turned down the job — there’s no sense in alienating a potential future employer, after all. That’s why Dattner suggests these interviews be conducted by a third party such as an executive search firm.

Here are some questions Dattner suggests for the ones that got away:

  • What did you see as the potential positive aspects of the role and/or working at our organization?
  • What were your concerns about the role and/or working at our organization?
  • What were the most important factors in the decision you made?
  • What feedback or suggestions do you have about your interviews, interviewers, the interview process itself, or how we could have improved your overall experience as a candidate?
  • Can you provide any observations about, or feedback or suggestions for the hiring manager, Human Resources, or the organization overall?
  • What additional feedback or suggestions can you provide about how we might present a more compelling value proposition to candidates like you in the future?

The information gleaned from these questions needs to be filtered, cautions Dattner:

It’s important to understand … that personal sensitivities and organizational politics will inevitably come in to the hypotheses that people develop, the interpretations they make, the conclusions they reach and the “stories” they tell themselves and others. The hiring manager may believe that HR didn’t manage the candidate’s timing and logistics properly, while HR may believe that the hiring manager isn’t a good interviewer or doesn’t represent the company well. Both the hiring manager and HR may believe that the CEO should have cleared his calendar to meet with the candidate earlier in the process.

This means it’s important to frame this feedback collection in a positive, forward-looking way, to keep an open mind, and to ask candidates who received but did not accept offers open-ended and non-leading questions to get their true impressions and feelings. If they decided to take a different offer, or to remain at their current job, it’s helpful to know which criteria they used in making their decision, especially if it was a hard choice for them to make.


Source: HR Morning

Date: 5th August, 2016

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