How to lose a candidate in ten ways

By Stephen Hickmore : I admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for romantic comedies. Notting Hill, Love Actually and Bidget Jones Diary hold pride of place in my DVD library Another favourite, don’t judge me, is the 2003 Stinker Award nominee “How to lose a guy in ten days” starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Here’s the basic plot – Kate’s character, a journalist, is inspired to write an article using classic mistakes people make in relationships. She starts dating a cocky advertising executive eventually driving him away.

The dating game is a tad like searching for talent in your business, don’t you think? Without the corny candle light, naff romantic music and messy shared deserts. Companies often forget that identifying and attracting the best is a two-way street, in a candidate short market like the one we have right now, there needs to be proper consideration to entice the cream of the crop.

Here are the ten, most popular, ways to lose the best applicants in the market: –

  1. Interview process is too long.

It’s good to plan a quick interview process, talented people are in demand. Panel discussions are good and ensuring that all members of the assessment team are available on the same day. Forward thinking businesses try to review your shortlist within a week and set up final interviews within two weeks. Candidates are not impressed if by changing appointment times or multiple interrogations. The candidate isn’t expecting an adoring “You had me at hello.” Jerry Maguire moment. But, time delays may be the demise of this relationship


  1. No Feedback

Who likes rejection?  But, an employer of choice gives feedback to the candidate timeously.  To get a crack at a “second date” better let the applicant know before they move on to some better prospect. A pleasant regret letter or email to all incompatible applicants is good. A standard “Dear John” or an impersonal SMS is not. A candidate can give you bad press if they feel neglected. A strong image as a caring employer is key in attracting the best.


  1. Too much testing

Personality profiles, Fingerprinting, Psychometric analysis, Integrity tests, lie detectors, medical checks and even handwriting analysis. All designed to help an employer make an informed choice. But does it really help? Don’t get me wrong, there is a home for some probing and prodding, but when is it all too much? Such brazen examination may cause a candidate to run for the hills. There’s a time for everything but extravagant snooping is just plain scary.


  1. Trying to find someone too perfect

Trust me “Perfect” is not out there. Everyone has weaknesses, annoying habits and made blunders along the way. We are have evolved as a species but are still full of faults.  Some human resources folks ask themselves three simple questions: Can they do the job? Will they compliment the team and our goals? Will they stay? Deciding can be over fussy like the movie “50 first dates” or one could settle for reasonable imperfection like Julia Roberts did when she met Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. Lucky Hugh!

  1. Setting unreasonable deadlines

Too much pressure on a candidate to accept the offer can evolve into the kiss of death, most un-romantic. Reasonable time should be given to weigh things up. Change is hard, and a strong candidate needs to consider many options to make a choice. To quote Billy Crystal’s declaration of love from the RomCom When Harry met Sally “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Being over eager does not an Oscar win.


  1. Offering a salary package way below expectation

At last the ideal candidate, the letter of offer is prepared. It is presented with a flourish and, like a bouquet of petrol station flowers, falls way short of expectations. After all that interviewing and checking just to fall over the final hurdle of compatibility. I know it’s not all about the money but if a person is used to a specific lifestyle it is unlikely they will accept less. John Cusack put it well in the 1989 movie Say Anything. “I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen” Variety magazine critics called it “half-baked love story” Companies who par cook their salary offers may also find themselves be panned by the reviewers.


  1. Phoning a current employer

A sure way to blow it. Phone the candidates present employer to get a reference? Yes, this does happen. Seriously, if your wayward golfing buddy phoned the husband of his latest flirtation for a recommendation would he get the truth? Or would the cowering Casanova of the fairways end up pursued by an angry hubby with a five iron. As in, the Rotten Tomato award winning and 2013 box office failure, “Temptation”  I would imagine a great reference would emanate from the current employer if they wanted a shortlisted prospect to leave


  1. Not trying to impress.

It is a talent short market. A forward-thinking company needs to make themselves attractive to potential hires. Many corporations want to be an organisation of choice but fall short of putting the right benefits and working conditions into practice. Reputation is everything, it is not all about salary. Good promotional prospects, great working environment, extra benefits, management style to name a few. Dedicated workers are the best people to recommend a company. If they love working for the Firm they will encourage others to do the same. A bad reputation is hard to change. A business doesn’t get dozens of chances. In Ground Hog Day, one of my favourite movies, Bill Murray needs to use the information around him to make the necessary character adjustments to impress Andie MacDowell. He eventually succeeds, but not without continued failure.


  1. Inflexible on interview times

The good candidates are probably working, setting up a convenient time for interview can be quite testing. Top companies are flexible and don’t play hard to get and willing to see the top talent out of working hours or at weekends.

  1. Bad employment advertising

Is the advert attracting applications? Is it dull and boring? Or is it in the wrong publication? If one wants to appeal to the right profile of candidate, better do some research and find the right platform. The best businesses target the appropriate online resources and publications that the goal market reads. And by the way, I am not referring to Tinder, or which, I believe, is a popular site for single chefs to hook up.


Good luck with your search