In technology circles, recruitment process in dire need of a redesign
It seems sometimes as if the sector is particularly clueless
Silicon Valley: “One acquaintance looking for a (non-managerial) job in Silicon Valley has gone through seven interviews – seven! – with a high-profile start-up, founded by a much-admired serial entrepreneur.” Photograph: David McNew/Newsmakers
It’s a well-known fact that the technology industry worldwide is facing difficulty in finding the qualified workers it needs, not just for the roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but across a wide spectrum of areas.
But increasingly, I wonder to what degree many companies contribute to this problem themselves. Again and again, I hear dreadful stories of how job candidates were managed by both established and start-up companies, as if the firms were doing the job candidates a huge favour in hiring them, and as if there were no competition for talent at all.
Obviously, this issue permeates all industries, but it sure seems sometimes as if the technology sector is particularly clueless.
One acquaintance looking for a (non-managerial) job in Silicon Valley has gone through seven interviews – seven! – with a high-profile start-up, founded by a much-admired serial entrepreneur.
The interview process has now dragged on for more than three months. In some cases, long gaps of many weeks have passed, in between one interview and the person being notified that they were to be called back for yet another discussion.
Companies want to be sure they have the right person for the right job. But this seems ridiculous. Are this many layers of interview filter truly needed to select someone for a general position?
And how counterproductive, too. Anyone applying to the company must wonder whether this haphazard approach carries on to the firm’s daily workings. Who wants to work in a company with inordinately hesitant decision-making, and such a cavalier attitude towards people’s time and talent?
This lazy pace also leaves the candidate open to offers from other companies. It’s an extraordinarily leisurely approach, given the competitive nature of the tech job market.
But this doesn’t even stand out as an odd experience for this person, who also told me about an interview with an industry-leading Valley company during which the senior management interviewer sat and texted away on his mobile the whole time, rarely looking up.
That made the candidate decide this wasn’t a desirable company to work for – even though it too is a hot property that, ironically, more or less sells the value of good communication and follow-through.
Another friend suffered through an amateurish multiple interview process at the Irish office of one of the Valley’s megastar companies. This person was headhunted, so you’d think there would be particular value placed on impressing the candidate and luring them over to the team.
But no. Instead, the interview series was disjointed and haphazard, as if the interview questions were thought up only the moment before they were asked. And as if those involved in the multi-step process never spoke to each other, leading the candidate to feel that nobody had any idea why he was there.
Any company arrogant enough to disregard basic courtesies – such as keeping job candidates informed in a timely way – has much to lose, far more than just that one prospective worker.
Accepting a position
A survey done in 2012 by jobfinder website CareerBuilder.com, which tracked the opinions and experiences of 800,000 jobseekers, employers and recruiters over 11 months, noted: “The experience a candidate has with an employer from the start plays a critical role in whether that candidate will ultimately accept a position.”
Even at a time of high unemployment, 56 per cent of 2,000 companies surveyed said a new hire candidate had rejected their offer – a sign that something’s not right.
One in seven jobfinders said they had a worse opinion of a company after they were contacted for an interview.
Some 78 per cent of disaffected candidates said they vented their poor experiences with friends and family, creating a knock-on affect that can damage a company’s brand and reputation in much wider circles. And 17 per cent said they would post about their negative experience on social media.
Orderly and productive
All of this suggests that too many companies are simply unaware of how poorly they conduct their hiring process. How to address that? Managers and others involved need training and assessment, to make sure they represent the company well and interview professionally. A system needs to be in place to make sure the many steps of the hiring process are conducted in an orderly and productive way.
And most importantly, companies should never forget that they are hiring people – not procuring laptops or lightbulbs.