PR hiring managers: Please read this post

Last week a friend of mine sent me a concerning email–but one I’ve seen far too often over the years.

He has been interviewing with various companies around town for positions–and not having a lot of luck as of late. That’s understandable–even in an improved market, it can take a few months (sometimes up to a year for more senior-level folks) to find the right fit.

What WASN’T understandable was how the companies treated my friend.


The interview process can be tough–on both sides. Candidates sometimes use interviews to gain an upper hand with their current employers (to ask for a raise, in most cases). And sometimes, candidates completely flake out. I’m not excusing this behavior. It happens. And it shouldn’t.

But, what I want to talk about today is the behavior I see on the company side–and how I believe it impacts future recruiting and overall company reputation.

Let’s look at a few of the mistakes I see/hear companies making, and what impact they may have on the overall reputation of the organization:

Mistake: Failing to call candidates back after making a decision

This has got to be the most common mistake on the list–but it’s definitely the most curious. After all, how hard is it to make a few phone calls and follow up with those people you brought in for that final interview? That takes all of about 15 minutes, right? Now I’ve applied for a lot of jobs over the years and I can probably count on one hand the number of times the company has made a call to me after I didn’t get the job. But, the companies that made those calls–I remember that. It showed me a lot about who they were. Those that didn’t? I remembered that, too. And to this day, I still have a tough time referring people to those organizations. I can’t believe I’m the only one who operates that way.

Mistake: Leading candidates on under false pretenses

I’ve heard numerous stories about companies who have made a hiring decision, but interview 1-2 additional candidates “just to have a back-up” in case the first selection doesn’t work out. I understand the benefit to the company here, but this just seems disrespectful to the “backup” candidates whom you’re putting through the paces. Why not just interview all candidates at the same time, make a decision and go from there? This one’s all about showing some respect to your candidates. They will remember if you burn them. And they may not come back again if you do.

Mistake: Letting the hiring process drag on…and on…and on

Another mistake I think companies make when interviewing–taking FOREVER to do it. If you have a need, fill it. Quickly. Not too tough, right? Now, I realize companies run into issues with buy-in. And things change from month to month with earnings and priorities and such. But, dragging an interview on for months at a time (which is more common than you might think) just doesn’t make sense. If you think the process is going to take a while, communicate that with the candidate. Make it clear that things may slow down considerably. Why is this important? Because the candidate most likely is interviewing with other companies. He/she wants to make informed decisions. How can they do that if your interview process is taking six months? I guess I would tell companies this: Keep your interview process inside two months (which still feels long), or hold on your decision to start interviewing. It’s really not fair to either side.

Note: Photo courtesy of bpsusf via FlickR Creative Commons.

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7 comments on “PR hiring managers: Please read this post

  1. mdbarber says:

    I wish this was only a PR firm issue. Others follow the same practices. I know folks looking for more than a year who have heard back from very few companies. It doesn’t seem that hard to be courteous but there are days I wonder. M

  2. KarenD.Swim says:

    For several years, I also had a career marketing business and can validate that these “mistakes” are common across industries. Sourcing and engaging candidates has become more complex than candidates know and most companies quite frankly do not have the specialized skill to do it well. They don’t call candidates back because they don’t want to be liable for anything said; hate the confrontation of telling someone they did not get the job and have no SOP about dealing with candidates that were not hired. The mistake is in not realizing how you hire does impact your brand as well as the need to nurture a deep bench of talent that may include potential future hires.

  3. ladysportsman says:

    At the company I used to work for, who is now a client, my boss always used the phrase “slow to hire, quick to fire.” Unfortunately, we were one of those companies that took FOREVER to make the decision. We lost candidates that way, too.
    Also unfortunate was that we weren’t, in fact, quick to fire either.
    And I totally agree with you on the phone call thing. As a hiring manager, I always communicated to those I reached out to as potential candidates.

  4. arikhanson says:

    @ladysportsman Good for you! We need more of you out there! I can understand the “slow to hire” mentality. Companies want to get the hire right. But, there’s a different between being cautious and diligent and just dragging the darn process on forever…

  5. arikhanson says:

    @mdbarber Right? To me, a lot of this just comes down to treating people with respect. I don’t understand why that’s so hard sometimes…

  6. arikhanson says:

    @KarenD.Swim There’s one particular agency here in MSP that I think takes that “deep bench” approach. And guess what? It pays off for them big time. They have a great rep in the market. The team is solid. And I’m guessing they have a number of people they’ve been “targeting” for a while they can pull in an interview if they score a new, big client. So simple, yet so many companies still not executing that way…

  7. cofg01 says:

    It is unfortunate that these errors of omission occur. The hard cold fact is that companies are in business to make a profit and the searching, interviewing and confirming process jus tis not considered as a contributing factor to profitability, unless you are a professional sports team. Oh now there is a thought if more companies and hiring managers looked at the recruitng process as a way to “build the team” rather than to find some one to do the job, then the story will change. Note to candidates: Send a thank you card or follow up email to thank them for their time. (part of the give and take protocol) Note to hiring managers or HR. Send a note to the candidate with viable feedback on the interview. This not only shows the depth of the company character but the ability to communicate in a candid but considerate manner.  PS The recession isn’t going away soon and it also is not an excuse for poor professionalism.