Job candidates are not "just for christmas".

Human Resources

Job candidates are not just for christmas.

Trying to get a job sucks.

You spot your dream job, which sounds like it is made for you. All excited, you spend hours updating your CV, craft the perfect letter, send it to your trusted colleagues for feedback, then wishfully send it into the ether. The grass is lush and green on the other side of the fence - you can almost smell it: a new car, more money, holiday, working with a better boss or more responsibility. Time passes. More time passes. Sometimes you will get an interview, but mostly not. Once the time has passed the point of being too long, a standard email reply arrives “whilst we were impressed.. “ etc., by which time your heady highs have reached rock bottom.

When someone applies for a job, they pack up their hopes, dreams and self worth into a 1MB file and place it in the hands of a complete stranger - you, who is now the business owner. From a business perspective, job candidates are a commodity until they move far enough into the process that they gain an identity. It’s no easy tasks balancing business needs, time demands and costs whilst still staying sensitive to candidates.

Businesses could do a lot better in their treatment of job candidates.

Good treatment of candidates can help to build your brand, reinforce your culture and retain enthusiasm from potential future employees. Recruitment is a courting process, so you want as many candidates to want to work for you as possible. The discipline around maintaining high standards flows into the culture and ethos of your business (hence everything that you do). Indifference can cost in the long run.  One of my colleagues was once flown interstate for a job interview with 4 flights, taxis and accommodation, but they never contacted her again!

Candidates know that only one person can get the job, but fair treatment can still leave a positive impression of your business in their minds. If you want to be a great place to work, getting the balance right must be part of your systems. Try these:

  • Check your attitude: increase your interest in making the process as easy for candidates as you can.
  • Explain the whole recruitment process at the start so candidates knows what to expect and when to expect it.
  • Be honest about what the job actually is.
  • Acknowledge applications even if it is automated. In the acknowledgement, give an indication of dates for the process.
  • Be proactive with communication and don’t leave people hanging. If you have been delayed, let them know - candidates lose sleep waiting for your replies.
  • If someone comes for an interview, they deserve a phone call as soon as possible with genuine honest feedback. (That’s the least they deserve for taking time out of their lives to meet you).
  • If it’s a "no thanks" then say so - quickly. Generic emails 3 months later is just pathetic.
  • Remember that longer that someone is in the process with you the more they have invested with you and the more respect and feedback they deserve.
  • Even though you are busy and focused on the successful candidate, take time to follow up as soon as you can, even if it is brief.
  • If there’s really no chance of the candidate getting the job, don’t get them in for an interview. It wastes time and raises expectations.
  • Use phone interviews to do the heavy lifting.



Warren Harmer

at Crecer

Small, fast growing and entrepreneurial businesses are my passion. I like to write business plans for them, grow them, advise them and write about them. My experience now spans over 17 years, including 3 businesses of my own. My objective is to offer instructive, hands-on, ‘how to’ information to make business ownership easier, less stressful, more successful and more enjoyable.

Comments (5)
Phil Khor

Phil Khor, Founder at

Great advice Warren. I agree it's all in our attitude; in fact how we treat and respect prospective candidates is a good indication of how we take care of our people. Thanks for sharing.

John Belchamber

John Belchamber, Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

Good advice Warren. Recruitment is like any other project in that it should have a beginning, a middle, an end and (importantly) a review process. The wrong candidate today may well be the perfect candidate tomorrow, so treat them all with you would a prospect/client.

View all (5) comments