Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reneges: Just who is your candidate listening to?

A recruiter asks: (maybe applicable to hiring managers too)

“What can we do to increase our chances of converting candidates who accept our offer to join us?”
(Note: He was referring to candidates who renege on their commitment to join, post offer acceptance.)

I’ve been in recruitment for a long time now. Personally, I don’t like candidates who renege on their offer acceptance (another dislike I’d written about
here). Sorry for the rant!

First, I’ll digress a little before giving him the actual answer. Noticed something? When it comes to getting information about any product or service, we are just spoiled for options. Really. It’s also called information overdose. It’s so easy to get information from the numerous search engines, networking sites, blogs or even reviews. But what we must understand is that every source has its own analysis of the product or service. You agree? Hidden among so many different sources, is the one official source that belongs to the person/Company rendering the service or selling the product. But how much do they matter when we get to read end-user reviews? Isn’t that the most helpful or even useful source (to an extent)?

So, if the above situation does exist. It leads me to asking folks involved in the hiring process, “Who is your candidate listening to?”

Think about it, you’ve spent considerable amount of time, cost and efforts to identify a good candidate. It’s a role that a lot of other candidates interviewed for but didn’t make the cut. Good job. But you work’s only half done. Really. While you are sitting pretty satisfied with your hiring efforts and even start making project plans for the new hire, he is talking to others about the role he has just bagged in your Company. That’s when the discussions take a different turn. He realizes that his close friend’s brother works at your Company and contacts him to find out more about the Company. That’s just one of his sources. There may be a hundred others. He is suddenly open to so many opinions and suggestions (off course, we can argue about his choices, but they are his sources) and he is making a decision based on things that he might hear or get to know from one of them. These sources will give out information on a ton of things including culture, managers, peers, compensation structure, benefits, etc., It’s their point of view. And your candidate might buy it.

So that’s where you can play a critical role. The immediate few days after a candidate accepts an offer is a crucial period. Those days will determine whether your hiring efforts will pay off or not. You could help the candidate take a better informed decision. One that is factual and hopefully unbiased.

Second, the reneges could happen for completely valid reasons. Some that just cannot be avoided. Yes, there are enough of them. But if you keep your post-offer interactions active, you’ll atleast get some heads-up on time. It'll help you come up with Plan B a lot faster. That’s better than getting to know of the offer decline closer to the candidate’s joining date.

Third, you might want to reconsider your interview techniques. Agreed that interviews aren’t 100% fool-proof, but then tweaking/changing your interview structure might help you come up with some questions that will help you understand the candidates needs better.

Some earlier posts that might be of help:
Do you keep interactions active after a job offer is made?
X-Factor: "Recruiter Sales"

Hope things better for you. Good luck!