Hiring habits that rub job candidates the wrong way

Friday April 5 2013

By ELLY WAMARI [email protected]

Early in the week, a seemingly frustrated job seeker sent in the following note: “Hello, DN2. I am 23, currently a casual employee in a supermarket here in Nairobi. I have been working as a casual since April 2012. I am yet to be employed on permanent terms. When I ask, I am told that I should keep on waiting.”

The email sender went on: “What makes me have doubt in this promise is that some people with less qualifications work as casuals for only a day and they get employed permanently the next day. My supervisor now says I should give Sh30,000 in cash to be employed on permanent terms. I can’t get such big money!”

Talk of managers behaving badly towards job seekers. It’s becoming a hot subject, with one write-up after another and commentary upon commentary imploring hiring managers who don’t show respect to genuine job seekers to retune their attitudes and actions.

The general view is that hiring habits that amount to a show of disrespect to job seekers could lead to regretful repercussions. In these times of intense competition for top talent, you don’t want your name tainted as an employer with bad recruitment habits.

After some wide reading and based on experiences shared, it turns out there are many recruitment habits that repulse job seekers the world over. We have compiled five of the most common, and which are of relevance in this part of the world, in addition to the one illustrated by the email above.

Going mute on job candidates

A number of HR consultancy firms rank this as the most common complaint against recruiting managers. Job seekers consider it rude and arrogant that after they have taken the trouble to respond to a vacancy notice and put together all the information demanded of them in an application, no acknowledgement of receipt comes from the other side.

Employers generally argue that sometimes it is not be practical to respond to every job applicant. IT experts now say that in this day and age, it is possible to do so with just a little investment on autoresponders with adequate capacity to acknowledge receipt of emails from hundreds of job applicants.

The silence gets more frustrating to job seekers after having been taken through interviews and then warned: “Don’t call us. We will call you.”

In a recent article, interview coach, author and adjunct professor at New York University Pamela Skillings, sums up such a scenario as follows: “It is frustrating after a good first interview. It is infuriating after multiple rounds, personality tests, and promises.”

Interviewing for a taken job

A woman once narrated her disappointment with a certain international organisation she had always aspired to work for. She had spotted a vacancy notice of relevance, and had quickly put in her application. Weeks later, she had received an invite for an interview, which she had gladly attended.

Week in, week out, no response had come through. On further enquiry, an insider had revealed to her that on the very day she and other candidates had sat for the written interview, someone else had reported for the job. In essence, their interview had been a formality meant to sanitise the recruitment of this other person.

Keeping the candidate waiting

Hiring managers don’t hesitate to deduct points from job seekers who turn up late, even with a compelling reason, and yet the same managers wouldn’t apologise after keeping a job seeker waiting at the reception for 40 minutes, one hour, and even more. “It’s plain unfair,” complains one job seeker. “It is demeaning to assume that we don’t have other important matters to attend to.”

Job isn’t what it sounded like

A bemused job seeker talks about how years back, he was duped by a well-crafted vacancy notice in the local dailies. Then a young man and fresh from university with an upper second class honours degree, he sent in his application and received an invite for an interview in a matter of days.

On the material day, he wore his new suit, specially reserved for interviews. The “international company” had, according to the vacancy notice, opened a regional office and was in need of “young and energetic graduates to be trained and hired as marketing executives”.

Well, it turned out during the interview, that the job was about hawking some fancy torches from China on the streets of Nairobi.

Discussions streaming in from job seekers suggest that far too many employers still promise on their vacancy notices, what they don’t intend to and perhaps can’t even offer.

Lack of preparedness

Job seekers say they are noticing a worrying trend. It is that of interviewers showing up empty headed. One gets the impression that the interviewing panel has quickly been put together minutes before the event.

You then find yourself in front of interviewers who are trying to familiarise themselves with your CV at the time of the interview. The situation leads to many awkward moments of silence.

This troubles more the job seeker who is being assessed for a fairly senior position, and so a good level of seriousness is expected. A job seeker in such a situation can only wonder if the unprepared interviewer would be genuine in their scoring.

The bigger problem, according to one job seeker, is that the habit appears to be too common now, and not limited to just one or two organisations.