Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Getting in to a company is tough

First impressions matter, right ? Your first impression of the company is usually when you come for the recruitment interview. What sort of an experience of the place do you get ?

It goes something on the following lines. You arrive a little early, not wanting to be late. You get stopped by security who has no idea of your coming. You produce your interview letter. He checks on the phone. He then lets you in to a reception area. You sit down with twenty others who have all come for the same reason. Awkwardly you squeeze between two others for the only millimeter of seating space available. You wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Finally one hour after the scheduled start time, a guy walks up and hands you a form to fill. You deposit that and wait. And wait. You may then be called for a silly test. You finish that. And wait and wait. Its now 3 hours since you came. You would like a nice cup of tea. Fat chance. You keep waiting. Then suddenly you are called for the interview. You rush in disheveled to face four formidable men. They have just opened your CV and are reading it. One of them asks your name just to check that he is reading the right CV. Oops wrong person. Shuffling of papers. Your CV is dug out. Questions are fired. Halfway through, the fifth interviewer walks in , for he is late in coming. Your answers are only half listened to as they are still reading your CV. 15 mts later its over. You’ve spoken for 5 mts. The guys asking the question have spoken for 10. Out you go.

For the next 3 months, there’s deathly silence. You have no clue as to whether you are accepted, rejected or killed. Then out of the blue comes the call – you’ve been taken. Can you join in 3 days. You protest saying that you have a month’s notice period with your current employer. The caller says – break it and join in 3 days for you are urgently required. You can’t ask why the company slept for 3 months if it was so urgent.

OK – this is an exaggerated account. But something in this might sound familiar. Many companies fall over themselves to create the most negative first impression possible. Just can’t fathom the reason. Maybe HR folks like to do esoteric HR stuff and hate doing the boring hard work that goes behind creating a wow experience.

Here’s my checklist to determine if your recruitment process is broken.

- If the candidate waits for more than 5 mts
- If the candidate isn’t offered some refreshments
- If during the entire process, nobody smiles at her and nobody thanks her for coming.
- If you don’t tell her when to expect a feedback
- And if you don’t get back to her as promised, even if she’s not taken.

If any of the above happens, fix the recruitment process. That’s the first job of HR – to create a wow experience for your employee even before she walks in. For if you’ve created a “Oh s%^&” experience, you’re going to spend the next 3 years trying to overcome that.

And the word “caring” appears on most companies’ culture statement. Oh God !


Hang said...

Many companies (foreign or Chinese) in China really need to improve their recruitment process. Perhaps only 5% of those companies manage to give a pleasant experience to candidates who attend interviews. Is HR such a difficult job? I don't think so.

Sabareesan said...

Ramesh well said, can you please add on to this post by including what is probably equally important for HR after the employee joins, may be relating to training programs, career progression - line managers vs. HR functional role etc.

Ramesh said...

@Hang - Its by no means an issue in China only. This is the situation in many other places in the world.

@Sabareesan - Thanks. Will try and touch upon it in the subsequent posts this week.

Ajay said...

Thankfully, I have only sat in 2 campus placements process (and one summer placements process) so far. And things are not at all like that there. But I can see the same happening in my office every now and then.
I now think I am going to end up forwarding links to all your this week's posts to everyone in my organization :) Boss was pretty supportive of and in agreement with yesterday's forward :) Let's see how long his patience lasts :)
(No, I am not trying to get myself fired :) )

thethoughtfultrain said...

Oh I have been through this and nothing of what you had written was an exaggeration for me. This is a company that prides itself on the values it holds but the HR people they hire are snobs of the first order. Not just at the hiring level too. I did take their offer and had several HR issues later which were handled pretty awfully!

Deepa said...

May be someday some company would manage to get the first four right! But it would be indeed something if someday someone gets the fifth one right too...

Ramesh said...

@Ajay - Oh yes - you could not have experienced this at all. Business school placements have the opposite phenomenon - employers wait in a line for the candidates ! And Oh God ! you're circulating all of this to your boss - forget you being fired; I'll be !!

@thoughtful train - Sadly your experience is a more usual one.

@Deepa - I agree. I've rarely seen it happen.Imagine if an organisation did that consistently; it would stand out as a terrific employer, even if you have been rejected.

Viji said...

Are you turning into an idealist?!?
I can atleast say that if each person (leave HR out as it is easy to fix things yourself) who is part of the panel, practices your checklist, it would still create a wow effect - can't really guarantee whether the last 2 pts will be really closed by HR, as per your promise - Still worth trying.
Read all your posts on HR today - seriously you can move to HR consulting - you can literally bring back the "Human" part of it.

Ramesh said...

Oh Viji - I am flattered. I am ill equipped to enter the rarified air of HR.

Much flattered that you sacrifice a weekend to read all my posts. A great tribute indeed.

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