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Recruitment Nightmares

Interview September 16, 2007

Recruitment Nightmares

Recruitment Nightmares

Have you been involved in a recruitment process where you’ve found a company’s behaviour deeply frustrating? You are not alone, reveals Navtej Johal

There may have been many times when you have left interviews or recruitment fairs feeling as though you didn’t sell yourself as well as you could. Maybe you weren’t as eloquent as you thought, or maybe that tie just didn’t go with that shirt? Either way, it’s rare that we think of the employer as the one who needs to review their conduct, right? Wrong.

Research has revealed that nearly a quarter of graduates have turned down a job after being deterred by an organisation’s behaviour during the recruitment process. The research found that close to one quarter (22%) had turned down a job offer because they were put off by an organisation’s conduct. Worryingly for potential employers, 34% of graduate job seekers have actively switched brand loyalty after a poor experience while applying for a job with a brand, according to the study carried out by Reed Consulting.

Angry mob
So what are these employers doing that’s so wrong that it is resulting in a mass of angry graduates? The research, which surveyed more than 2,500 graduate job seekers from a variety of sectors, found that the top complaint from graduates is "not hearing back from a company at all" (66%). Also, "no feedback being given" (60%); "job that was advertised changing or no longer being available" (32%) and "long delays before attending final interview/assessment centre" (22.5%) were the other top gripes.

Satnam Aujla, a law graduate from Wolverhampton University, reveals an unpleasant experience he had for one of the first jobs he went for: "The company I applied for couldn’t make up their mind as to which of the two or three candidates they wanted. Rather than coming to an informed decision they just waited to see which candidate gave up waiting for a decision first.

"They didn’t get back to us within the stated time and the person who hadn’t moved on to look for something else ended up getting the job," says Satnam.

Also among the top eight negative interview experiences encountered by those surveyed were "incorrect salary information" and (the highly unprofessional) "interviewer getting my name wrong".

Damage limitation
Such poor treatment of candidates could be damaging to the organisation in the future. Becky Remington, head of graduate services at Reed Consulting, agrees that employers need to shape up their behaviour. "This is a real wake up call for organisations who often forget that potential employees can also be existing or potential customers.

"Employers need to ensure that every part of their recruitment process runs smoothly from attraction all the way through to the final offer stage to protect their business performance and employer brand".

Fighting for talent
Becky believes that there is currently a "war for talent in graduate recruitment, where candidates often progress quickly to senior levels of the organisation". In accordance with this, she feels it’s important for employers to "treat their applicants as future company directors when designing and delivering their recruitment processes".

Other findings showed that 58% say that following first hand experience of applying to work for an organisation their perception of the brand has changed, of these 66% said their view is now less favourable. Furthermore, 93% said they would tell their family and friends if they had a negative experience with a brand when applying for a job, while 40% said a negative recruitment experience would definitely make them less likely to consume or purchase a brand’s products and services. Only 16% said they would not change their brand habits.

Here are some opinions from the students polled by Reed Consulting:

"They took almost five months to get back to me on the outcome of the online application forms. Although this was the first company I had applied to, by the time I heard back from them I had already accepted an offer elsewhere."

"I applied for a marketing assistant position and was invited for an interview for which I had to prepare a presentation. At the start of the interview I was told the position had changed and they were really looking for a marketing manager with management experience. It felt like a complete waste of my time and theirs."

"I was interviewed by someone who was not part of the planned interview panel and was unprepared."

"I had gone through the second stages of interview with a media company in London and I was told in writing that I hadn’t met their requirements. A month later, they wrote to me and said that they liked me and would like to offer me the job. I have rejected their offer because I felt insecure with their uncertainty."

While it’s understandable that an employer might not have the time to give feedback to every candidate it sees, there is certainly no excuse for unprofessional conduct in the interview room itself.

It’s time that employers started dealing with their candidates fairly and treating them like future colleagues. Otherwise they may be the ones out of a job.

Stuck doing a degree you don’t like, but think you can’t change it? Think again. Lucy Beaumont started a degree in psychology at the University of Reading, but soon realised it wasn’t right for her and changed to biology. Although it meant starting again from scratch, she says it was the best decision she’s made.

Q Why did you decide to change degree course?
I changed course as it wasn’t really what I was expecting. Having come from a science A-level background I thought it was a bit airy fairy, and preferred one of the biology modules I was doing. I tried to swap so that I wouldn’t have to repeat the year but the biology department wanted me to start from the beginning.

Q How did you get your job as intelligence analyst with the Metropolitan Police?
I applied for my job through an advert in The Guardian. It was the only one I applied for and magically I got it!

Q What skills are imperative in your line of work?
Skills for my line of work include analytical skills, good knowledge of computer software (Excel for example) and ability to pick up new software (mapping, police databases and so on), and you need to be numerate.

Q What advice do you have for a student who is considering changing their degree?
If it’s a change for something you really want to do then go for it, otherwise you’ll always be thinking ‘what if?’. Also don’t worry about being in the year below (i.e. with people a year younger) as it really doesn’t matter; you’ll still stay friends with all the people you’ve already met and you’ll meet more people as well. At the end of the day it’ll mean a year extra at university, which is always going to be better than getting a job!

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