Are You Scaring Away Top Talent?

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Scaring Away Top Talent

Remember that talented person you wanted to hire, the one everyone liked so well? She ended up turning down your job offer, and come to think of it, she wasn’t the only one. Do you have any idea why?

You could be unknowingly scaring away talent, those you’ve interviewed and others you haven’t even met.

Recruiting expert and author Diana Martz, writing on’s blog, cites a study that found that 75 percent of businesses fail to create a “positive candidate experience.” You could be turning off great candidates and causing them to not recommend you to other people in their network. In fact, Martz says, if you’re providing a negative candidate experience during the recruiting and interview processes, you pretty much don’t have a prayer of snaring top talent.

So what’s a “negative experience?” Things like not responding to applicants or not managing a candidate’s time properly; anything that creates an impression of disrespect and even arrogance. No wonder these turned-off candidates also discourage others from pursuing a job or even doing business with you! But there are things you can be doing, Martz says, to make sure this doesn’t happen:

    • Respect everyone’s time. Be flexible; be efficient. Candidates’ time is just as important as yours.


    • Be clear about the process and next steps. Manage expectations and let candidates know where they are in the process. It’s only fair.


    • Get feedback. The candidate feels a sense of respect and engagement, and you can gauge the candidate’s level of interest and concerns.


    • Provide timely rejections. A personalized email or better yet, a call, as soon as possible frees up candidates to pursue other things. Offer a brief explanation for your decision and above all, show appreciation for their time and effort and interest.

Beyond being just generally clueless, there are apparently even more specific ways to scare off good people. highlights 10 of them just in the interview process alone:

    • Assuming a one-way interview process.


    • Being unprepared.


    • Throwing out (irrelevant) brainteasers.


    • A long and complex interview process.


    • Trip-up or ambiguous questions like asking if someone can work with little guidance.


    • Inappropriate questions (Are you married? Do you plan to have a family?).


    • Overtime questions. Of course, some overtime is assumed. But important enough to bring it up? Red flag!


    • When can you start? Not appropriate before an actual offer—you run the risk of sounding desperate.


    • Focusing too much on conflict resolution. Are you hinting at problems in your workplace?


    • Being vague or clueless about the job. A BIG waste of time and turn-off for any job candidate.

Now that you know how you might be scaring away potentially great employees, how about some tips for attracting them? Wharton Professor Paul J. H. Schoemaker suggests six ways to attract top talent:

    • Get your team aligned.


    • Make a good first impression.


    • Draft some ‘Why’ docs.


    • Remember it’s not about you.


    • Actively get into the hunt.


    • Stay flexible.

The more you offer, the more likely you’ll hire with success. And remember—it’s not all about money. Top candidates are also looking for growth, development, opportunity, recognition, lifestyle, a sense of belonging and balance.
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Are you doing all you can to attract top employees to your business? How do you create a positive “candidate experience?”

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