Episode #77 – How a Hiring Process Can Actually Screen Out Good Candidates

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary Organizations hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how an organization’s hiring process can actually screen out good candidates. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve discussed the hiring process in previous podcasts, but we’ve never touched upon this aspect of it. Can you shed some light on today’s topic?

Stacy: I certainly can. There is something called The Law of Unintended Consequences. This is a phrase that relates to the social sciences. According to this law, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.

Sharita: So in other words, someone or a group of people make a decision to do something, but that something produces results that they did not anticipate.

Stacy: That’s correct.

Sharita: And you’re saying this happens in the employment marketplace and the world of hiring?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying, and it can and does happen during the hiring process. And that’s how an organization’s hiring process can actually screen out good candidates, even though the process was put together for the expressed purpose of hiring good candidates, not screening them out.

Sharita: Stacy, do you have a case study that illustrates this?

Stacy: I sure do! Now, I’ve seen good candidates NOT get hired before. Mind you, they didn’t get hired because of something they did. They didn’t get hired because there was a better candidate and the organization chose that better candidate instead. Remember, only one person can receive an offer of employment at the end of the hiring process. Since that’s the case, there are plenty of good candidates who don’t get an offer. That’s understandable and acceptable.

However, I’ve also seen candidates who have not received an offer because the organization’s hiring process actually prohibited the person from being considered for the position. That’s what I mean by being screened out. This is not understandable or acceptable. This kind of situation is a disservice to both the candidate and the organization that is trying to hire the best person for the position.

Sharita: So this falls into the category of “avoidable mistakes.”

Stacy: It certainly does. And it also falls into the category of “unintended consequences.” There are plenty of pitfalls in the hiring process and plenty of ways that things can go wrong. It doesn’t make sense to add to that list of pitfalls.

In this particular case study, I presented a candidate to one of my clients for a position. The client put the position on hold, which employers sometimes do. However, the client had a similar role open up in another department. Now from my perspective, this was a stroke of good luck. That’s because I thought the candidate I had presented for the original role was an even better fit for the second position.

Sharita: But you were not able to place the candidate in that second position, were you?

Stacy: No, I was not. That’s because the employer would not consider that candidate for the second position. The reason was that the organization had different hiring strategies for the positions.

Sharita: Different strategies? What does that mean?

Stacy: The organization’s hiring strategy for the first position was to use an executive recruiter. Its hiring strategy for the second position was to post online job ads and hope that a suitable candidate responded to the ad.

Weeks went by, and the hiring manager was still trying to find a candidate to fill the second position. But the HR department would not let the hiring manager consider the qualified candidate that I presented for the initial opening. The candidate was nearly a perfect fit for the position, yet the organization’s hiring process was screening the candidate out because of what was essentially a technicality.

Sharita: So what eventually happened?

Stacy: The organization did not hire the person, even though they were clearly qualified and as I said, almost a perfect fit. The person took a position with another organization in the same industry.

Sharita: So instead of hiring a candidate who was pretty much perfect for the position, the organization basically handed the candidate over to its competition?

Stacy: That’s a pretty fair way of summing it up.

Sharita: That sounds crazy.

Stacy: It does, but it illustrates what I’ve been talking about. It also underscores how critical it is for employers to recognize their priorities.

Sharita: What do you mean by that, specifically?

Stacy: When an employer is hiring, that employer usually wants to hire the best candidate that it can. That makes sense. Since that’s the case, it also makes sense that hiring the best candidate possible is the organization’s number-one priority. In this case study that I just discussed, maintaining strict hiring strategies was the organization’s number-one priority, not hiring the best candidate possible.

So, since hiring the best candidate possible was not the organization’s number-one priority . . .I should ad that it was the hiring manager’s top priority but not the human resources department’s top priority. The hiring manager actually wanted to consider this candidate for the open position but it was the Human Resources Department’s policy that restricted the hiring manager from being able to consider this candidate.

Sharita: They ended up NOT hiring the best candidate they possibly could.

Stacy: Exactly. Not only that, but another organization within the same industry hired the candidate instead. You’ve heard of a win-win situation before. This one almost qualifies as a lose-lose situation.

If you want to hire top talent, then you must do what is necessary to hire top talent. If you don’t do what is necessary—or you’re not willing to do what is necessary—then you won’t hire the talent that your organization needs. It’s as simple as that.

Sharita: We’ve touched upon this before, but what are the elements of an effective hiring process? What should employers do if they want to hire top candidates?

Stacy: First, they need a complete and comprehensive job description with plenty of “sizzle.” You can’t bore candidates to death with a list of duties and responsibilities. People don’t get excited about a list of duties. They get excited about a list of possibilities for their career.

Second, employers need to keep candidates engaged throughout the entire hiring and interview process. The best way to do this is by setting expectations at every stage of the process and communicating often with candidates. If you don’t communicate well with candidates during the process, they’re going to assume the worst and drop out.

Third, employers must try to keep their hiring process as streamlined as possible. Between four to six weeks is the optimum amount of time. Top candidates will stay in a hiring process for up to four weeks, but after that, they’re at risk for dropping out. The shorter, the better.

Fourth, employers should also have an effective onboarding process for after the candidate accepts their offer. In fact, the onboarding process should start the minute that the candidate accepts. It does NOT start on the candidate’s first day of work. That’s because you want the candidate to show up for their first day. If you don’t start the onboarding process immediately, then you increase the risk that they won’t show up at all. Believe me, it’s happened numerous times to employers. Just because a candidate accepts an offer doesn’t guarantee that they will show up, especially in today’s employment marketplace.

Sharita: What about the role of search consultants or executive recruiters? Where do they enter the picture?

Stacy: Well, search consultants or executive recruiters play a key role all throughout the hiring process. However, there are a couple of places where they play an especially pivotal role.

Sharita: Which areas are those?

Stacy: From an employer’s perspective, the two toughest parts of hiring the best candidates is knowing who those candidates are and convincing those candidates to consider their opportunity. A search consultant specializes in both of those areas.

First, they know who the top candidates are, and they probably already have relationships with them and know the timing of when they’re ready to make a move. As we’ve discussed before, the first step in hiring top talent is being able to identify top talent.

Second, one of a search consultant’s or executive recruiter’s main skills is their ability to recruit, which makes perfect sense. Top candidates are usually passive candidates, which means they’re not actively looking for a new job. They’re certainly not responding to job ads. They are more than likely not reading job ads. That means they must be convinced to consider a new opportunity, and that’s what a recruiter does. They contact these candidates, present the opportunity, and convince them to consider it.

Sharita: What other value do search consultants or executive recruiters provide to employers and hiring managers? Do they provide any value outside of what they do during the hiring process?

Stacy: They absolutely do! A search consultant is, as the name suggests, a consultant. We consult our clients about a great many things. One of those things is the state of the employment marketplace, including current trends and emerging trends. Search consultants have knowledge of what to do and how to handle specific market conditions, and they can use that knowledge to educate and guide their clients.

Sharita: Such as educating them about the best ways to hire top talent, so that they don’t end up screening out good candidates and letting the competition hire them instead.

Stacy: Exactly! The hiring process is the most important key in attracting, engaging, and hiring top talent. Employers must make sure that they’re in a position to hire the best candidates. If they don’t at least do that, then they won’t be in a position to hire them at all.

Sharita: Stacy, once again, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!