You know that point when you’re sitting in the barber or hairdresser’s chair? You are maybe half way through your haircut, can see exactly what’s happening in the mirror, and you’re thinking “I’m not sure I like where this is going”. It would be pretty tricky (or impossible for some) to criticise the person standing behind, holding a pair of sharp scissors, so you remain silent, hoping it will all come good in the end (like one of those street artists, who with two or three final strokes turn a splodgy mess into a perfect likeness). So you daren’t criticise, and you can’t possibly leave before they remove more hair. You nod, you pay, and you hope it’ll grow back fast.
Imagine the same situation whilst getting a tattoo. As bad as it might be, you really daren’t say, knowing this will be a permanent reminder of putting your faith in the wrong person.
In an interview situation, either side may be thinking the exact same thing after the first five minutes, and throughout the rest of the allotted time either reconfirm that impression, or look hard for redeeming qualities about that candidate or indeed that employer. In fact, it’s very common (in my experience) that a candidate reveals themselves to be either an outstanding match or fundamentally unsuited to a job in the final 15 minutes of an interview. Having become comfortable in the interview, a person relaxes and reveals something about themselves that would rule them in or out of contention. The same goes for the employer in this two-way situation. A great candidate might not find what they are looking for until late in the interview.
Let’s change the scenery to an online application, where a candidate is continually reassessing whether it’s worth the bother following through to the bitter end. Having enticed a jobseeker to begin applying, it’s all too common that the persuasion stops there. Demands are made of a candidate, that frankly make them reconsider; attach a CV, complete this form, leave a video message, prove you are entitled to work in the UK etc etc. If it’s true that passive candidates are the sweetest fruit, it follows that they are the first to bail out. What an employer is left with are the most determined candidates, not the most attractive ones.
“But wait a second” I hear you cry, “I’ll then be swamped with way too many applicants, unless I start screening out the tyre-kickers at the start!” Yes, that may be true, but the content of your advert copy is where you start screening out unsuitable, and encouraging the best ones. Allow candidates to firstly and easily note their interest in your vacancy, by simply giving their email address, liking it on Facebook, or “favouriting” it on Twitter. This way, if they break-off from following through with the formal application, you have the means to reach out to them at any stage, whether to remarket the job, encourage more applications or to gather feedback. Technology does indeed enable over (or spam) applications, but it also empowers candidates to walk away when they don’t like your application process.