Mary is an extremely interesting candidate.
She was introduced to you by a recruiting agency that you reached out to get help finding the right person. You would have done it yourself but this period you are super busy and don’t have time for this part of the business. Right choice, dangerous mindset if kept during the whole process, as we’ll see in a minute.
You asked Mary to spend X hours to develop a project. She’s quite experienced with interviews so she made time for 2X because she starts from the assumption that you underestimated the task you gave her. She does so because it’s always hard to estimate any work a perfect stranger will be called to do. Based on her experience, she also knows very few managers take the time to verify if their initial estimates were right after they have submitted the test a few times.
The final balance of time Mary spent though reaches 3X because she’s unlucky, because she’s works on the assignment at night, because you took for granted the initial setup of the project, she’s trying to polish her code as much as humanly possible to impress you, because of many small problems you can read more about here.
But Mary committed to a date based on 2X. She makes a point to always keep her word and, good for you, she’s keen not to waste this opportunity to join your team so she starts this new potential working relationship doing extra hours.
Once she’s done with the project, Mary doesn’t exactly positive feelings in your regards but she bites her tongue thinking to the greater good.
She submits her code and after 1 week she gets a reply saying
“We are sorry to inform you we have reviewed your code and we are not going to proceed with your application. We wish you luck with your future job searches”
Mary is clearly not happy about the outcome but she could still find a positive note in the whole story if she got back from you some feedback, a brief note saying what were the things you marked as good and which ones as bad. So, trying to be positive and proactive she writes you to ask for some more details.
You receive her email but are still super busy and in the initial mindset. You then assign it a very low priority and in the end forget about it and never reply to Mary. “A pity”, you think, “she did quite well but we only had a spot available and were so lucky to find an even better candidate”.
While you take this decision, your Manager Ego feels a warm fuzzy feeling for your great Time Management skills and feel proud because you just made your company save a lot of money and spent your time on things that brought more value.
I think you should be fined instead for the damage you just caused!
A strong candidate is forever lost
You said it yourself: Mary was quite strong, just very unlucky to run for the position together with someone that proved to be even stronger.
She would make a perfect hire 3 months later when the workload increases even more and you are given enough budget to hire a new team member. How cool it was if now you could simply contact her straight away and check if she was still available?
A pity you lost her respect by not spending the time to give her appropriate feedback at the end of the process. How likely do you think it can be now that she accepts to take on the conversation from where you left it?
The friends of the candidates are lost too
Candidates are of course human beings. They talk to people, they develop relationships, gain the trust of their peers.
One of the things candidates talk very often about are the experiences they had while interviewing with this or that company. And they usually do it with the colleagues they like the most, which quite often means colleagues with a similar skillset and mindset. Which, for you, means quite similarly interesting candidates.
How likely do you think it will be that one of Mary’s colleagues and friends may accept to interview with you?
By the way, did you consider that Mary is a “she” and therefore possibly more likely to spend her time at work with female colleagues? Any chance you are investing a lot of time and effort organizing events to attract more Women in Tech? I guess that would mean that the 10-20 mins you saved by not replying to Mary are now ruining the efforts your company is doing to show how inclusive its culture is. What’s more expensive now?
Of course the same applies for every ethnic, cultural, sexual, religious, technological sub-group you are trying to attract to increase the diversity of your team.
Some people that don’t even know Mary are lost too
This is the era of social apps and information publicly available. It’s also an era where candidates in IT do their homework and have the luxury to be able to chose who they would like to work for. Plus, at least in IT, candidates are usually quite keen to help each other and used to leave reviews on everything.
How surprised would you be if after not receiving an answer, Mary decided to leave a negative feedback on the interview process on a site like Glassdoor? How many people do you think will refuse to continue with the process once they read yours is not a company that values and respects candidates’s time?
Also, how much money and effort is your company dedicating to build an appealing Employer Branding that can attract the right candidates? How many charity events do you attend to, how many parties do you organize and post on social events to make the world see how cool you are as an organization? Isn’t their final purpose to attract exactly the kind of people you are pushing away with the image your behaviours are painting?
You are forcing recruiting agencies to charge you more
There’s no doubt that the work recruiters can do for you is extremely valuable and can save you a huge amount of time and headaches. In return, of course, they will charge appropriately. “Appropriately” nowadays means “several thousands of euro/pounds/dollars”. That’s for every single time you hire one of the candidates they present you.
If you stop a second to think about it, that’s crazy money. So crazy that thinking about it will make you reluctant to use the help of professionals or drive you towards agencies that will offer you less than premium service but for less money. This goes to overall detriment of the quality of your hiring process.
It doesn’t have to be so though. You are making it so.
Recruiters can and must charge a lot of money for mainly 2 reasons: the market is hard and the market is spoilt. Both are in large part your fault.
Recruiters must charge you a lot because the market is hard
In the same way as you cannot contact anymore Mary, her friends and colleagues and the people that read her reviews, in the same way recruiters can’t. That means they continually need to contact new people. That takes time, researching and talking at the phone.
To make things worse, of course recruiters cannot know in advance who’s a friend of Mary. They will usually contact a person via email and set a call. In my experience it’s very rare that a recruiter of an agency will unveil the name of the company they are contacting you for before they have talked with you at least 20 minutes.
If when hearing the company’s name the potential candidate recognizes the place that treated Mary poorly and decide not to submit their application even if the job spec looks interesting.. that’s 1 hour of work wasted. Multiply this for all the friends of candidates you rejected without providing an appropriate feedback and you can easily imagine how much time goes wasted every day.
That’s all time that has to be paid for that one time where a candidate is finally hired. You are not only paying for the time spent for that candidate. You are paying for someone else to deal and fix the ruins you left behind.
Recruiters can charge you a lot because the market is spoilt
Finding a professional that can tick all the boxes is not easy. Finding a potentially good match that is considering to change job is very time consuming. Finding a potential candidate interested in the specific company you are representing is extremely tough. If half of the candidates will refuse what seems like a good role because of the bad reputation of the company and that wastes 1 hour each time, that’s frustrating.
No hiring manager wants to deal with that frustration and that’s why they are often happy to pay crazy money to have someone else going through that hell. Because the general consensus is that finding good candidates is inherently hard, companies will approve that expense.
But that frustration is something that in good part was generated by the re-iterated bad behaviour of hiring managers of the same or other companies.