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A Necessary Condition for Effective Management.

Submitted by • August 15, 2013

You advertise for a job and after several months, you pick five candidates. Three are still available and agree to interview. You tell the candidates that you will have a decision in a week. But key folks are on leave and it takes three weeks to get a decision. Over a month after you have promised notification, you send out a letter to the candidates telling them that you have selected someone else.

From the perspective of the candidate here is how this looks. You apply for a job and after a long wait to the point that you have forgotten about the job, you are asked to interview. You interview well and are told that you will be contacted within a week. Two weeks later you still have not heard anything. A month later you get a letter saying that someone else has been selected. Now, how lame is that?

Not only will the two candidates who did not get the job think badly of your company, but they are sure to tell others about their experience. Their conclusion: this is a poorly managed organization where no one in his right mind would want to work.

Is it possible to reject applicants yet still have them praise your company? You bet. Here’s how savvy managers do it.

1. They make sure job announcements have the key skills and experiences that they are looking for, including salary range. Savvy managers know that they are wasting everyone’s time by leaving out the salary range because salary is a key decision variable for applicants. It also gives the impression that there is something to hide or the organization is trying to be cagey when salary is omitted.

2. They send a brief letter or email to each applicant acknowledging receipt of the application, describing the selection process and estimated time line for a decision. If they vary from this time line by a week, they send another letter advising applicants.

3. After selecting candidates, they notify them in person to schedule interviews. At this point they send letters or emails to everyone who was not selected letting them know.

4. They are consistent and professional with the interview. They use the same interview panel and the same set of questions for each candidate. At the end of each interview, they go over the final decision process and time line, so candidates know what to expect.

5. After selecting the top candidate, they check references before a final decision. Once the final decision is made, they make the offer in person and ask the candidate, in fairness to everyone, to make a decision within a week. After acceptance, and this is absolutely key–they notify each candidate in person that he or she did not get the job and why.

Weak managers are afraid to deliver bad news. They prefer the safety of a letter. But if managers cannot tell candidates that they did not get the job, what kind of supervisors do you think they are? That phone call makes all the difference.

By keeping everyone informed at each stage of the process, you will leave a strong impression on your applicant pool. If 75 persons apply, then you generate 74 ambassadors for your company, even though none of them was selected. Over the course of several hires, this adds up to a lot of good will.

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