Are the Candidates You’re Not Hiring Affecting Candidates You’re Looking For?

By: Matt Gainsford


There is a familiar saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” The nonverbals are echoing above the words that are used. Let’s go one step further, “it’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say.”

What I am referring to here is the candidate who has invested time, interest, emotion and in some respects, set their future at the feet of your company.

If a candidate is taking the time to explore your company, then chances are something has stood out to them beyond the work they are looking to do.

They average hiring process from first connection to hire is 27 days (nearly a month) but it can be a lot longer. During that time a candidate will likely:

  • Be contacted by a recruiter (probably numerous times) OR find a role they apply online for directly
  • Engage in an introductory call with a recruiter/member of the team where both parties are starting to explore each other to see if there is merit in connecting further
  • The candidate may be sent assessments to complete which could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours
  • If it’s a role that we are recruiting on for our Partners then we will engage in a more in-depth conversation with the candidate to take them through our Head, Heart, Briefcase conversation where we look at motivation, value, achievement patterns and future goals. This could be anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours (yes, we have had 3-hour conversations for high level roles before the candidate even speaks to the hiring team).
  • At this point we could be sitting anywhere between a week to 2 weeks by this point and the candidate has already invested at least half a workday (4-6 hours) exploring the role.
  • The next step is the formal interview process. This is when we introduce the candidate to the company, or if they are working directly with the hiring manager then it may be on to the next round of interviews.
  • The formal interview process could include anywhere from 1-5 interviews (one company we worked with had separate interviews with their entire leadership team of 8), but the average is 2-3 interviews, first with the hiring manager, then with the hiring and direct manager and then perhaps a panel interview with the executive team. This could be another 2-3 weeks, plus the time it takes for the hiring team to take other candidates through the process and to see if “there’s someone else we could compare the candidate to, oh and maybe one more to be sure.”
  • The candidate is becoming more invested in the process, as are the hiring team. It’s getting increasingly real!
  • Then it’s decision time. Will the candidate be hired? Will they accept? The hiring team has sent the offer and they want to know (generally within the week) as soon as possible if the candidate will join them.
  • OR, and this is what happens with most candidates (as there is typically one role for 10 people interviewed), they have gone through hours of conversations, interviews, have researched the company, planned their exit from their current company (and their work may be suffering due to the natural shift in attention towards a new and exciting future), only to hear
  • Nothing. No response. Crickets. The great silence

If you made it this far then you’ve invested time too, thank you for reading.

What if the blog stopped here? What if after all of that it was just a joke without a punchline, a movie without an ending, a meal out without the bill (actually, that sounds amazing; no bill but you’re still sat awkwardly waiting and the lights have gone out and no one is there but you know if you leave, you’ll get arrested for dine and dashing)?

Hiring trends are changing and while it has never been best practice (or good manners) to leave a candidate wondering what happened or to say, “well this is just how it is”, it has never been more important to take the time to let the candidate know they were unsuccessful. The knock-on effect in our digitally evolving world where sites like Glassdoor, Google Reviews and LinkedIn are making it much easier for candidates to share their experience, is the negative review.

Candidates are 2-3 times more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one.

The impact on your hiring strategies is potentially massive. How your company is perceived will directly affect the talent you attract.

Companies want to ensure they are hiring the best people but to attract the best people the candidate needs to have an excellent experience, especially the ones who aren’t hired!

There are a couple of different approaches to the how of letting a candidate know they didn’t get the job, but we are all agreed that letting them know is a courteous and honoring thing to do.

Should I call or email?

This is really a personal choice. A well worded email will suffice however a call will ensure the candidate is connected with quickly and has you have already spoken a number of times then it could be a chance to build the bridge for future opportunity, conversely if you put yourself in the candidate’s shoes who wants to sit on an awkward call to learn they didn’t get the job.

So, what are some helpful things to say?

  • When you know, let them know. Letting a candidate know on a Friday afternoon can be the least disruptive time as it gives the weekend to process.
  • Encourage them to apply again in the future. If you’ve had a great connection and the reason you didn’t hire them was that a stronger and more aligned candidate took the role, then they could be a great fit at a later date. Keep in contact with them and don’t burn bridges
  • If you have feedback to share with them about the process that is always welcome. It leaves the candidate with something positive. The key to this is making sure your feedback is sincere and genuine. You don’t owe the candidate feedback so it can be situationally dependent.
  • Thank them for their time and investment. By recognizing the candidate’s investment in the process, you see the person and allow them to be seen

Whether the candidate hears directly from the hiring team or the recruiter the simple act of letting them know where they stand is massive. It can take time; it isn’t fun, and it can feel high stakes, but it will put your company in a stronger position moving forward.

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies are a team of Talent Optimizers. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We also know how to deliver unwelcome news and have people thank us for it.

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