Welcome to Your Job Application Nightmare

This month’s guest article is from Katrina Collier, Author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, and a global keynote speaker.

Can you imagine investing your irreplaceable time into a new job application and being confronted with, ‘How do you feel life has worked out so far? Please record a short 2-5 minute video response.’

This is how I would respond. ‘I’ve been working in the recruitment and talent acquisition profession for 2 decades, and in all that time, I have never seen such an irrelevant or biased question. And now I have recovered from the shock, I am curious what you hope to gain from my answer? After all, not one single human, of all 8+ billion of us, has a life that is working out as expected. And how do you plan to assess what makes a great response without bringing in all of your -isms and phobias? How does my answer help you assess the relevancy of my skills and experience?’

Actually, I am lying. 

I would close the application and move on. But not before tweeting a screenshot of it, like Salem Pierce did. Extraordinarily, she didn’t mention the company – just as well as this tweet has had over 2 million views… so far.

What is amazing about this particular question, is that someone thought it made a lot of sense to ask it, and someone else (probably) approved it, and for what purpose? What do they hope to gain from the answer? It is far too personal for an applicant to answer honestly, and far too subjective for a recruiter to assess objectively. 

Consider this though.. 

Applicants who know their worth won’t invest their time or energy jumping through hoops. And why should they? They have the power. The internet gives them that power. They don’t feel like they have to work for your company or client, when they can see countless other job posts and people to network with.

Long application processes, or hiring loops with too many steps, only means that your company or client will recruit the person who was patient (or desperate) enough to jump through all the hoops and didn’t secure another job along the way. It definitely doesn’t mean that your company or client is hiring people that ‘really want to work for you’ or that they are hiring the ‘best talent’. 

It also ruins the company’s reputation on sites like Blind, Glassdoor, and Reddit, where people love to vent – especially if they have jumped through countless hurdles and then been ghosted or rejected without feedback. 

It also tells candidates that your company or client struggles to make a decision, which isn’t a great environment to work in. There might even be a blame culture, which is where people are frequently singled out and mocked for mistakes and errors, to the point that they become reluctant to accept responsibility for their actions and mistakes, because they are afraid of criticism and reprimands. Managers and leaders that do this create employees who are unwilling to take risks or speak up. 

Don’t let your company or client’s company lose great people because they are not thinking through the implications of their process.

1. Gather your Evidence. 

Tell them how many people drop out of the process. Share candidate comments. Search the internet for posts about the experience, which I hope you won’t find but if it’s awful you probably will. Invest some time building your case so you can talk to them objectively and with a solution in mind. 

Look for Glassdoor Interview reviews, comments on Recruiting Hell on Reddit, posts on Blind, and anywhere else people would be likely to share an unfair experience.

2. Investigate the Competition. 

Again, gather your intel. Know what they do well and how they treat candidates. You are looking to show your leaders or client what good looks like – especially if their main competitor is making hiring easy. As above, check those sites, and discover what is being said, or ask your candidates.

3. Question the Process. 

I am always surprised by how few recruiters question the hiring process. They simply accept something that makes little sense. Instead, be curious about it using gentle ‘what’ questions. For example, ‘What is the rationale behind asking people how their life is turning out? What do you hope to learn?’ 

One of the recruiters in my mentoring group mentioned the time she was wasting trying to collate two 5-person panels for every applicant proceeding to the third round. I asked her if she knew why it was in play because it was likely that someone had implemented it ages ago and nobody had thought to question its effectiveness. She swiftly discovered that it wasn’t necessary. Just by querying the process, with some valid reasons for removing one of the panels, recruiting was simplified and recruiters and applicants alike rejoiced.  

Be consultative! Sometimes people cannot see what is right in front of them creating huge problems, sometimes they just need to be shown.

Katrina Collier, Guest blogger

Katrina is on a mission to fix talent acquisition and candidate experience; often exacerbated by hybrid working. She is one of 2 people globally delivering design-thinking workshops specifically for recruitment, that swiftly help companies fix the real issues preventing successful hiring. She is also Author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, leader of group mentoring programme The Collective, and a global keynote speaker. 

Katrina is an Ambassador for Hope for Justice charity, and you’ll find her on LinkedIn and on Instagram & Twitter @KatrinaMCollier.



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