Episode #269 – Proper Employer Etiquette During the Animal Health or Veterinary Interview

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #269 - Proper Employer Etiquette During the Animal Health or Veterinary Interview
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Joel: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we will be talking about proper employer etiquette during the Animal Health or Veterinary interview. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Joel. As always, I am glad to be here with you today.

Joel: Stacy, you are a workplace/workforce expert. What is behind the topic of today’s podcast episode about proper employer etiquette?

Stacy: Multiple things. The first thing, of course, is the state of the job market and the employment marketplace.

Joel: Are you referring to the fact that it is a candidates’ market?

Stacy: Yes, I am. We are still in the midst of a severe worker and talent shortage, and that includes within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

Joel: I ask because I know that you have talked at length about candidate behavior and etiquette during the Animal Health and Veterinary interview during past podcast episodes.

Stacy: Yes, but because of current market conditions, it is also important for veterinary practice owners and hiring managers to be aware of their behavior. This is because of the leverage that candidates have in just about every hiring situation. And when it comes to leverage in these situations, it can be explained this way: employers need qualified candidates more than those candidates need employers.

Joel: And because of that, the candidates can walk away from the process at any time?

Stacy: That is correct. They can, and they have been walking away, and they have been doing at just about every step of the way, including during the Animal Health or Veterinary interview.

Joel: Would that be the “ghosting” that we have discussed in recent podcast episodes?

Stacy: Yes, but not all candidates walk away or drop out of the process without letting anyone know they are doing so. There is still a majority that lets the employer know they are dropping out, and in some cases, they also let the employer know why they’re dropping out.

Joel: And let me guess . . . one of those reasons is the behavior or the etiquette of the employer?

Stacy: That would be right in some instances.

Joel: And I am also going to guess that you have some examples or case studies that relate to this topic.

Stacy: I do have some case studies Joel.

As you know, I use actual examples from the job market on the podcast, and I do this because they illustrate what is happening in the employment marketplace. And my first example is something that happened recently.

I had a candidate in the hiring process of one of my clients, and it came time for the interview. Keep in mind this was a female candidate who was interacting with a male hiring authority. During the interview, the hiring authority kept referring to the candidate with pet names like “honey” and “hon.”

Joel: Was that a deal breaker for her?

Stacy: It absolutely was a deal breaker. She said that everyone she met was nice, but that it wasn’t a good fit, and she did not want to continue pursuing the opportunity. And this was a candidate that the employer was interested in for their open position.

Joel: And she was not interested because of the pet names?

Stacy: She did mention that specifically, and since she did that, it must have weighed heavily in her decision. And as I said, since employers need candidates more than candidates need employers, it does not take much for a top candidate to decide that they want to drop out of the process and no longer pursue an opportunity.

I have another example that did not happen recently, but that also illustrates improper employer etiquette during the Animal Health or Veterinary interview.

Joel: What happened in this story Stacy?

Stacy: There is a similar dynamic in this story, namely that the candidate was female and the hiring authority was male. This involved an interview that required an overnight stay for the candidate. What happened is the hiring manager said he would book her a hotel room. When she arrived to the departing airport, she called the hiring manager to let him know she was at the airport about to fly in to the interview. He then told her he decided not to book a hotel room for her and said she could just stay at his  house and he would drive her to the interview the next day.

Joel: What? You are kidding, right?

Stacy: No, I am not. I wish I was kidding about it but this is what happened.

Joel: I imagine that the candidate did not take him up on that offer.

Stacy: She did not, and she also did not want to pursue the employment opportunity, either. In fact, she chose to leave the airport and drive back home instead of getting on the flight to fly to the interview.

Joel: That represents a staggering lack of awareness about the situation and what is appropriate and what’s not.

Stacy: Exactly. Especially in this day and age. Even if the offer was a legitimate one and that the hiring authority had no ulterior motive behind the offer, there is no way that you can make an offer like that in such a situation and not have it come across as creepy.

Joel: Right! I was just going to say that. There is no way to make that not sound creepy.

Stacy: And since that is the case, there is no reason to make that offer or say something like that in the first place.

Joel: Stacy, this is all part of employer branding and the candidate experience, is that right? I know that we’ve discussed those things on the podcast before.

Stacy: You are right on both points. This topic is all part of employer branding and the candidate experience and we have discussed those things previously on the podcast. Because it is a candidates’ market and top candidates are in such short supply, the experience that candidates receive during the recruiting and hiring process is critical.

Joel: And being called pet names and being invited to sleep at a hiring authority’s house overnight does not constitute a positive experience.

Stacy: No, it definitely does not. And there are some other things that do not constitute a positive experience that employers have unfortunately done as well.

Joel: What things are those?

Stacy: Employer etiquette goes beyond just not calling the candidate a pet name or not inviting the candidate to sleep over at your house prior to an Animal Health or Veterinary interview. I think I can safely say that the majority of hiring managers and veterinary practice owners can avoid those mistakes. There are others, though, that are not quite as obvious, but can still damage an organization’s hiring efforts.

Joel: Do you have some more stories for us?

Stacy: Yes and no. These are stories that I have mentioned before, but I believe they bear repeating because they relate directly to what we’re talking about today. In fact, I have three more case studies.

Joel: Great! What is the first one?

Stacy: In the first case study, an employer wanted to interview a candidate for an important position. However, the employed decided to fly the candidate in and out of town on the same day. Not only that, but the employer also scheduled tight connection flights for the candidate, increasing the chances that the candidate might miss one of the connecting flights. This experience sent the wrong message to the candidate, namely that the organization was either experiencing cash flow problems or was skimping because it values saving a buck over providing an exceptional candidate experience. The candidate asked the employer if he could come in the night before and be fresh for his interview and the employer said no, that he had to come in and out the same day because they didn’t want to  put him up in a hotel. This was for an executive role.

Joel: They may have lost more money because they missed out on a great candidate.

Stacy: That is exactly right! The employer was trying to save a few bucks and lost out on a great candidate.

In our second case study, another employer wanted to fill a high-level position. However, the employer had an HR representative screening candidates for the position. Unfortunately, the HR rep not only “grilled” the candidates during the interview, but also did not answer any of the candidates’ questions. These were candidates who were not actively looking for a new job in the first place. They were passively considering employment opportunities. If they were looking for “red flags,” this HR representative provided them. Once again, the experience sent the wrong message, specifically that the employer is “out of touch” in terms of hiring in the modern marketplace.

Joel: That is another “wow” moment. It seems like it’s a simple mistake to make, but I can see how it can have such a negative effect. These were passive candidates who were not looking for a new job. It didn’t take much to convince them that the job was not the right one for them.

Stacy: Yes, and that is what happened. Once again, the employer lost out on not one, but multiple candidates, all of whom would have been great additions to their organization.

In our third case study, an employer flew a top candidate across the country for a Veterinary interview at one of its practices. This was an important position that the employer desperately wanted to fill with the right candidate. Believe it or not, when the candidate arrived for her interview, the practice was closed. The candidate had not mixed up the interview time. She was there when she was supposed to be there. But there was no one there to interview her. Eventually, someone showed up, but they were disheveled and out of sorts. What had happened is someone had quit the practice a week or so before and this person was supposed to greet the candidate at her in interview and show her around. This person didn’t tell anyone else this person was going to arrive at a certain time for her interview, so no one was at the practice to meet with her. This experience definitely sent the wrong message. The candidate was not impressed by the employer’s lack of preparation and attention to detail.

Joel: Okay, I’m truly speechless about this one.

Stacy: Yes and in this situation the employer was going to reimburse the candidate for her travels. Then because they were not able to interview her they didn’t want to reimburse her for her travels and I had to twist their arm to get them to reimburse her. It was really embarrassing.

Joel: That is a terrible story. And these are all breaches of etiquette by the employer that cost them great candidates during the recruiting and hiring process.

Stacy: That is correct. And as I’ve been saying for quite a few years now, there is no margin of error for employers that are looking to hire. All it takes is one branding mistake, and a candidate will decide to drop out of the process. Then they are probably gone for good.

Joel: So Stacy, what can employers do?

Stacy: Well, first and foremost, they can avoid the etiquette mistakes that we’ve been discussing to this point.

Joel: Yes, that would be a great start!

Stacy: I have five steps for creating a great experience for candidates during the recruiting and hiring process.

The first step is to set proper expectations. If you don’t do this early in the process, it could come back to “bite you” later on, quite possibly during the offer stage of the process. Setting expectations means making sure that everybody involved with the process is “on the same page.” Specifically, everyone from the organization who is involved in the hiring process should be in agreement regarding the type of candidates being sought, the length of the hiring process, and the prevailing conditions that exist in the marketplace.

Joel: What about the candidate?

Stacy: I am glad you asked. As far as the candidate is concerned, the hiring manager or veterinary practice owner must make sure that the candidate knows exactly what to expect during the process. They need to know what will happen and when it will happen. You cannot make candidates guess, especially top candidates. They have options and they have lives to lead. They will not wait around.

Joel: Because the employer needs them more than they need the employer.

Stacy: That is exactly right. The second step is to communicate and provide feedback throughout the entire process. This is because candidates want to know where they stand in the process, preferably at all times. A reason for this is because they may very well be involved in the hiring process of more than one employer. If they have doubts about where they stand in yours, then they might opt out of it to focus on another.

Joel: And if the employer doesn’t communicate well during the hiring process, the candidate might think its employees won’t communicate well after they join the team.

Stacy: That is also correct. Employers have to put themselves in the candidates’ shoes and think like they think.

The third step is to make an attractive and competitive offer. A candidate could be having a fantastic experience with a potential new employer, but if that same employer tries to low-ball the candidate on the offer, then that great experience has been ruined.

To be clear, it is okay if a candidate turns down your offer. However, you do not want them to be offended by the offer, because they will tell their friends and colleagues about their experience.

Joel: And the, by extension, one small branding mistakes becomes magnified and does more damage.

Stacy: Yes, it does. The rule here is a simple one. If you’re an employer and you believe you have a top candidate, then make your top offer. If you cannot afford to make top offers, then you will miss out on hiring top talent and will lose them to your competition.

The fourth step is to follow up after the offer if the offer is accepted. You might think that your responsibility is done once the candidate accepts the offer. That would be incorrect. It is imperative to keep the candidate engaged at this point, because there is a good chance they’ll receive another offer, a counteroffer, or both.

Joel: And then they might “ghost” the employer, right?

Stacy: Yes, “ghosting” has become commonplace in the job market during the past few years, so much so that it has become a real problem.

The fifth and final step is to work with an experienced Animal Health or Veterinary recruiter. And an experienced recruiter can not only help to provide a great candidate experience—and prevent their clients from making etiquette errors—but also help the employer to make an attractive and competitive offer. And as I have mentioned before, if an employer is working with an Animal Health or Veterinary recruiter, that employer should let the recruiter make the offer to the candidate.

After all, that is what recruiters are trained to do, and they have more experience than hiring managers and practice owners when it comes to making offers. When a recruiter makes an offer, there is a higher probability that the offer will be accepted.

Joel: You would think that would be reason enough for the employer to let the recruiter do it.

Stacy: I know, but it does not always happen that way. I have seen hiring managers insist on making the offer, and they make it and the candidate rejects it. In the vast majority of cases, the recruiter is the person who started the relationship with the candidate. As a result, they are expecting the recruiter to be a valuable part of the process. You can see the wisdom in allowing the person who the candidate trusts to make the offer of employment to the candidate.

Joel: That makes perfect sense. Stacy, is there anything else that you’d like to add before we finish today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I want to mention once again that an experienced recruiter is a wealth of information, someone who can help both candidates and employers through the Animal Health and Veterinary interview process. They can help both parties avoid making costly mistakes during the interview process, mistakes that will prevent them from achieving their career or hiring goals.

With that said, I invite our listening audience to visit The VET Recruiter website at www.TheVETRecruiter.com.

Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about proper employer etiquette during the Animal Health or Veterinary interview.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Joel, and thank you. It has been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!