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How to recruit badly

Posted by Meg Bear on May 29, 2008


 I should start this post saying how much I love the town where I live.  Really.  I have wonderful neighbors and I feel strongly about my community.  I expect this relationship to grow as next year my oldest begins kindergarten and I learn more about the school system my tax dollars have been supporting all these years. 

I am fortunate to live where I do, and I am still a supporter of my community, but I have to say their recruiting process could use some fine tuning and that is the nicest way to put it.

In the “what were we thinking” category of life, my husband and I decided that it might be a good idea to re-think our professional focus as a family, and see about shifting his career from a monetary focused strategy to a more community-based one.  We had this idea, that maybe shifting to a schedule that didn’t have travel, was part time, and that helped our community would be worth the one-fifth salary.

I know.  I know.  REALLY —  I do know.  You want to understand what we were smoking.  I have no defense there.  It was a moment of weakness what else can I say?

So we went down the path of applying for a job with our city.  I say “we” but I think we all recognize that my role was the “have you submitted that application yet?” kind of role.   As an observer from the side, I was horrified at just how badly the whole process was executed.  A real embarrassment to the Recruiting profession.  Being the kind person I am, I decided I should share this experience as a “what not to do” when recruiting in the 21st century.

To say that applying for a job with the city was different then applying for a software-based professional job is to understate the situation.  Here is the summary of the process from the candidate point of view

  • Upon inquiring about the job paper application form was sent to us in the mail – of course I almost threw it out as junk mail.
  • He was able to fill out the application online, not that the experience was great, but having some personal experience with development of online applications, I am very careful not to throw stones here, no matter how much I want to.
  • Of course, the waiting for confirmation and information was exponentially longer but this wasn’t surprising to me, I guess I was expecting that.
  • The first round of interviews was a panel and here is where the situation went down hill.  No offer of a beverage, 45 minutes of questions and never was there an opportunity given for any question to be asked.  Seriously, they fired off questions like an inquisition and then escorted in the next candidate.
  • The follow up from the panel interview process was again in the mail, and that was to tell him he was one of the finalists.  I’ll say it again, the candidates they thought they wanted to hire they informed via snail mail.  Talk about positive impression.  Yup, I really want to work with these people, they can’t be bothered to call the 3 finalists to come back for a second interview.  So, by now, as you can imagine, our enthusiasm for helping our community was seriously being threatened but we decided to stay in to see how the process completed.
  • The second round of interviews was slightly better, and by better I do not intend to imply that the logistics and human side were well covered BUT the interviewers did appear to have some experience in conducting an actual interview.
  • Then the waiting process began again.  After four weeks without any notice coming via the US Postal service we decided that maybe a follow up on our side might be appropriate.  After sending an email we got a response that said “oh didn’t we tell you?  We filled that position already, but we’ll keep your application on file for another year

To that I can only reply “well thanks for that“.  I guess I can be grateful that our experiment in community-based employment really only involved a few poorly executed interviews and some wasted postage.  I shudder to think what the actual employment experience might have been. 

I personally have decided, that in the future I’ll limit my altruism to volunteer work and as far as employment goes I think we will focus more on channeling Gordon Gekko in our decision process.

 

2 Responses to “How to recruit badly”

  1. J. Ochse said

    Limited or non-existent email access by a large number of civil service applicants may account for the policy of snail mail. While irksome, I find this far less aggregious than the total lack of basic interview skills necessary to choose the proper candidate. To show no interest in possible questions or comments the applicant may have had would have led me to the assumption that his/her input would never be of much import. Failure to contact the TWO (fortunate)also-rans for a professional position with a landmark city is just beyond the pale! In my humble opinion, your husband dodged a large and quite slow bullet.

  2. Meg Bear said

    @J indeed, doesn’t speak well of the position. I do wish the best to the candidate that took the position, I feel s/he is going to need it.

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