Jun 2020

Treat Your Job Applicants well

If you’ve ever applied for a job, you understand how stressful the entire process can be. That alone should be incentive enough to treat everyone applying for a position with respect and dignity. But it is also a reflection of your organization and what your values are.

Often, when you apply for a position, you never know if your resume has been received, if anyone has looked at it, or if you’ve been rejected. One more letter launched into the great void. That can leave you feeling rudely dismissed, and it often engenders bad feelings toward an organization you recently thought highly enough of to want to work with them. If you’re the one doing the hiring, would you rather have people talking about how well they were treated when applying for a job, or complaining that they never heard from you?

When we help with a search, we respond to every application as soon as possible with professionalism. We let people know when they will hear if they have been selected (or rejected) for an interview and what the tentative timeline for next steps will be. Candidates need to feel respected and connected.

What is the interview process like? Are the questions well thought out and prepared in advance? Is there a sense of order to the proceedings, or does it feel like they’re just going through the motions? Is it one-sided, more like an interrogation than a conversation?

We believe it’s important to develop thoughtful questions to help both you and the candidate understand if they have the experience and the skillset you’re looking. For instance, in these physical distancing times might your new leader be coming into a situation where they need to be able to handle tension among staff members without actually being in the office? Interviews are about finding a good fit, and you should always keep in mind that the top candidates will be evaluating you as much as you are evaluating them. Give candidates an opportunity to ask questions, and often their questions will tell you as much as their answers to your questions.

How should you follow up with your candidates after an interview? Too often candidates who are not moved forward never hear anything again. We believe it’s essential to let people know as soon as possible if they’re not getting an interview so they can pursue other opportunities, and we give constructive feedback to help them understand why they were not chosen. Some of our proudest moments are when we’ve received letters from applicants who were not selected, but who appreciated the way they were treated. They often end up getting another position for which they were a better fit. In two recent searches, one finalist became a monthly donor the week after she was told she didn’t get the job, and another became a volunteer.

Remember, any interaction with the community will shape how people think about your organization, and you want them saying good things. If you don’t have time to treat people well as you go through this process, hire a thoughtful, thorough and experienced search consultant. It will pay big dividends in the future.

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