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The Job Interview: the Applicant’s Perspective

Posted on: October 31, 2019

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written by

Alex Evans, PharmD

Applicant Intext

In the first post of this two-part series, I talked about what the hiring process is like for the hiring manager and went over simple tips to impress the hiring manager during that process. Today, we’re going to look at the applicant’s perspective, and how that applies to your own hiring process.

Too often companies don’t give enough attention to what it feels like to apply, yet for candidates this is their first impression of the organization and its culture. Whether candidates have a good or bad experience, word spreads fast. 

This article is for all of you hiring managers out there, so take notice: if you want to find the best applicants and have a great pool of people to choose from, you need to treat every applicant as if someday they will be the amazing candidate you need. The fact is they either might be themselves or, especially if treated well during the process, they might refer their superstar friend or family member to your company.

In short – company reputation matters, and building that reputation takes every applicant, every time. In fact, one article states that 69% of job seekers would not work for a company with a bad reputation – even if they are unemployed!

What are the top frustrations of applicants that will prevent you from building that talent pool? From my experience, these are the top four:

1) Ghosting

      Ahhhh….the legendary no-no that has become pervasive in today’s hiring culture. Ghosting is when, after emails and even phone (or in-person) interviews, a company just disappears, never to be seen again. It has happened to me as an applicant and puts a bad taste in my mouth for them. And guess what? Not only will I be unlikely to apply for those companies again, I will tell my friends (who you might want to hire) not to apply. Some people might take it a step further and write a poor review of the interview process on one of the job boards. 

      What can I do?

      Don’t do it! Out of all the things you can do to hurt the chances of getting good applicants in the future this is probably the worst. If your hiring system does not have a way to document follow-up and closure, develop your own system. It doesn’t have to be fancy – even a checklist for every applicant that is interviewed where the last box on the checklist states “inform candidate of decision” and has a place for the recruiter or hiring manager’s signature, date, and method of communication.

      2) Calling late to an interview or cancelling an interview

        Things happen – we get that. An emergency comes up, you have to put the proverbial fire out in your department, etc. When that happens we need clear communication about the scheduling conflict and an offer to reschedule.

        Other times, however, you just call late because ‘a meeting went over’ or ‘I got pulled away’ (i.e. with something that could have waited). We have eaten lunch quickly so we have a chance to speak with you during our 30 minute lunch break and you have wasted 15 minutes of that and now our interview is either going to run over (angering our current employer) or be rushed (and we might not get the chance to present ourselves the way we wanted to). 

        What can I do?

        If you have to reschedule because of an emergency not only should you offer to do so but don’t tell the candidate (it’s not their fault, after all) that you need to interview them in the next couple of days. If you are interviewing a candidate that is currently employed 1-2 days is not enough notice. Put the ball in their court and allow them to suggest some time slots over the next week. After all, why after taking 3 weeks to respond to my application is my interview so urgent?

        If it is not an emergency, or you have a meeting prior to that, just be sure you make the interview on time. Would you treat your boss (or the CEO) like that? The best companies have a culture where everyone is treated well, not just those in leadership positions.

        3) Being too impersonal during the hiring process

          While everyone knows companies have to be profitable and employees are there to bring value to the company, we also all want to work at a place that will at least try to get to know us and we can get comfortable so we can do our best work. When you start the interview right off the bat with "what you are looking for" and "how we can fill that gap" it gives a bad impression. Even worse is to say things like “We have had a lot of interest in this position so we’re trying to sort through them all” or “We have quite a few other strong candidates to interview.” If it is a good job, trust me – we know that. But if you didn’t think we were a top contender, why are you interviewing us?

          What can I do? 

          Look over the applicant’s resume and even their LinkedIn account to see what kinds of things interest them, even professional interests. For example, if you were to look at my LinkedIn or resume you would quickly see that I worked in Hawaii – why not ask something about Hawaii before we get started? Also, avoid discussing how many applicants you have had, and instead just provide a clear timeline of when we can expect to hear back from you. 

          4) Having a difficult application system

            While the application system is beyond the hiring manager’s control, having one that is time-consuming and difficult to use is a great way to give applicants a bad impression of the company. If it is outdated, deletes information we just entered, and asks the same thing repeatedly, an applicant might wonder: is the whole company like this? Would I be working under these types of computer systems with the expectation that I still perform well?

            Another problem with having a system that is difficult is that you will get fewer applicants because many will decide they don’t have the time to spend that much time applying. Remember, most applicants will have put in numerous applications just to get one interview. Without the chance to speak with them you might miss your superstar, because they moved on to a company that respects their time.

            What can I do?

            This is truly an area where a top-notch staffing company like Barton Healthcare Staffing can help. By screening candidates, getting to know them, and then working to match them to jobs they will thrive in, BHS recruiters increase the chances that the candidates you are seeing are a good fit. They can also reduce frustration on both sides, by handling all of the necessary paperwork on their end to make it smoother on yours.

            If you are in a position of being able to make decisions for the entire company about application systems, consider the applicant’s potential experience with it (and not just cost or the recruiter or hiring manager’s experience). 

            Finally, one thing applicants love is to be able to ‘Join Your Talent Pool’ – in other words, submit their resume for future positions. The applicant at least feels like they applied for your open position (and if they really want to work there, even that feels good) and it benefits you because before you even post a position you have a large list of resumes you can search to find potentially good fits. One of the worst internal policies I have seen is to not allow this – what do you (or the applicant) have to lose?

            Thanks to BHS' internal credentialing team, they are willing and able to credential clinicians for your future roles, in instances where you love the candidate but simply cannot place them at this time. The clinician then has the option of returning to you (who they love!), and you don't miss out on great talent. It's a win-win!

            Ready to start hiring some talent? Contact a BHS account manager today to get started!

            Alex Evans, PharmD
            About Alex Evans, PharmD

            Alex Evans, PharmD, BCGP is a community pharmacist and medical writer based out of Jacksonville, FL. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro with a BS in Biology and from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He has experience in a variety of settings, including community pharmacy, long term care, outpatient health-system pharmacy, and academia. He is particularly interested in medication safety and supply chain as well as in compliance and legal issues pertaining to the community pharmacy setting. He is currently pursuing an MBA from West Texas A and M University.