There are a lot of red flags that employers look for (or should look for) when making a hire. And often times, if you find a candidate with these warning signs, you won’t just pass them over for the position – you’ll blacklist them from all future opportunities with the company.
So is it any surprise that candidates do the same thing? When recruiters and hiring managers make interview blunders, when your candidate experience is overly clunky, when you don’t call candidates back, you lose out on top talent for the role at hand. But you also foster lifelong detractors of your brand – detractors that will never apply again, and will encourage others not to apply, either.
The moral of the story? If you can’t find employees, it’s probably you, not them, that is to blame.
Here are nine reasons why nobody wants to work for you – and what you can do about it.
Your job description was vague, confusing, or incomplete
A job posting says a lot about a company. A vague one says it lacks direction, for example, while a confusing one suggests a chaotic environment. Spelling errors point to a lack of attention to detail that will deter more candidates than you’d think.
But a job description can also deter candidates if it’s lacking key pieces of information. Namely, why they’d want to work for you in the first place. We’ve mentioned before how important it is to think like a marketer when writing job postings. Describe the working conditions, the great culture, the perks. Give people a reason to apply to your opportunity. And do so clearly and succinctly, with zero typos or errors.
A job posting says a lot about a company. For example, a vague one says it lacks direction.
Your initial correspondence was full of errors or conflicting information
Accidentally sent a form email with the wrong name at the top? You’ve just lost a candidate. Accidentally sent conflicting deadlines, or a dead link? You’ve lost them for sure.
That’s all to say: your copywriting efforts aren’t finished once the initial job posting is written. You need to bring the same level of quality and detail to every email you send a candidate. That means full sentences, formal greetings and goodbyes, and accurate information, every time. Double check every request, every deadline, every bit of contact info you give them – and then check it again.
You botched the interview
There are a lot of interview mistakes that employers make, but they all really boil down to one: not treating the candidate like a client. Would you be late for a meeting with a client? No. Would you come to a client meeting unprepared? No. Would you act distracted, cold, or rude? We hope not.
But when you bestow this kind of treatment on a candidate, it tells them that you don’t respect them – and, they assume, you don’t respect your employees, either.
To prevent it from happening, make a standard interview procedure (that includes reading resumes in advance, meeting candidates at the door, asking standard questions, and so on), and make sure all your hiring managers are well-trained in it.
You were pretentious
Many a road-weary job seeker has experienced the self-righteous interviewer that is less interested in getting to know the candidate, and more interested in tripping them up – or, worse, showing off their own prowess.
A Steve Jobs quote comes to mind: “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
In other words: the goal of a job interview is not to show a candidate why you’re better than them. If anything, you’re looking for people that are better, smarter, or more trained than you are – that’s how you’ll grow your company.
So nix the ridiculous asks (“Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?” and the like) or “gotcha” questions to try and stump them. Don’t be mean. It won’t help you to learn if the candidate is a good fit for your company, and it will likely lead them to tell others what an unpleasant interview experience they had.
You didn’t get back to candidates
We’ve talked about this many, many times. Candidates need to know whether or not they got the job. When they apply to a position – and particularly when they make it to the interview round – they put a lot of time and energy into preparation and anticipation. And when they’re left hanging indefinitely, that energy quickly turns to anger and frustration.
If an applicant hasn’t been selected for an interview, you can let them know with a standard form email. If they made it to the interview, you should let them know with a phone call. Every single time.
…or you didn’t get back to them fast enough
The above holds true for not getting back to candidates fast enough, either. If you leave a candidate hanging for four months and then call them up, you’re probably not going to win back their favor – even if you’re calling with a job offer.
Things can change, job seekers understand that. But when you say that you’ll let a candidate know about a decision by the end of the week and you can’t make that deadline, send them a quick note. If your company starts a hiring freeze, send them a quick note. If a decision maker decides to go on a two-month sabbatical with no access to phone or email, send them a quick note.
It takes mere seconds to send, and it can prevent your relationship from souring.
You made a ridiculously bad offer
If you’re a small business owner, you won’t necessarily be able to offer every new hire an unbeatable salary. However, it’s important that your offers are reasonable.
After all, a solid job offer is about more than just whether or not your top candidate accepts it. If your offer is bad enough, the details can (and will, unfortunately) get around fast through Glassdoor, Reddit, and social media – and other top talent won’t waste their time applying with you.
When setting the salary for a role, look at minimum wage as dictated by your province, industry standards (Payscale is a great resource for this), and the details of the role. Then, pair that number with other workplace perks and benefits that set you apart as an employer. Remember: your offer doesn’t have to be sky high – but it does have to reflect the state of the industry, and the nature of the role itself.
You talked about a candidate in public
Here’s a story one of our readers, Linda, shared:
“My friend Evelyn was taking public transit to an interview – it was an interview for a position within her own company – a move to another division. While on route, she overheard two women from her HR team talking about her, saying that she would never get the job, and wondering why she had even bothered to apply. She did not confront them, but was understandably upset that her own HR team would slag her and gossip about her in the open like that. She’d been with the organization for five years at this point and completely lost respect for the company.”
Enough said? Don’t gossip about candidates. Ever. You never know who’s listening nearby.
You made it all about you
Another reader, Christina, once told us about an employer who was so high on their own company that they spent the entire interview telling her how great the company was, how everyone wanted to work there, and how even being interviewed was a privilege considering the competition.
“It was just really bizarre. They didn’t actually ask any questions about me or my resume. Shouldn’t at least part of an interview be spent a) trying to get to know me, and b) telling me the good parts about the job? Selling me on the opportunity? It was like a cult.”
Whether this company was just super excited to share their story, or they were trying to trying to give off a certain arrogance to try to entice you to the role (see pretentious, above), it obviously didn’t work. Candidates are looking to show their true selves to interviewers keen to listen – not to those playing games.
If you can’t find employees to grow your team, it might be time to take a good look inward, and see if any of the above reasons might apply to you. A few small adjustments might, over time, make a world of difference to your reputation – and your talent network.
Tell Us What You Think
What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.