R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Can Your Candidates Get a Little?

I heard a discouraging story this week. After a colleague’s initial interview, he was told he was the perfect fit for the position and would be scheduled for an interview with the executive team. After weeks went by with no communication, he learned through the grapevine that the position had been filled.

Another candidate received and accepted an offer letter, turned in her resignation and set a start date, only to be told when she showed up for her first day of work that she couldn’t begin because there was a glitch in her background check (nothing criminal, just a minor date discrepancy with a prior employer). NO communication in the month between “You’re Hired!” and “Oops! Maybe Not!”

Isolated incidents? Sadly, no. A quick perusal of job seeker forums reveals that lack of communication is a hot button for many candidates.

Why does it matter? Your communication and behavior throughout the process seal the impression your candidates, who could be future volunteers, donors or ambassadors, have of you and your organization. And a negative impression can go far beyond the candidate with job seeker forums and websites like www.glassdoor.com, where applicants review and rate their interview experiences.

In our own work hiring CFOs for nonprofits, we are always surprised by the positive responses we get from candidates to our frequent communications, even when we tell them they DIDN’T get the job and why. They appreciate the fact that we keep them informed so they aren’t playing the waiting game.

Here are 3 tips for making a positive impression during your CFO Search:

1. Communicate up front with qualified candidates about your search process and the estimated time for filling the position. For example, our screening process often includes in-depth screening interviews with us, followed by a written assessment, background screening and reference checks. If this all goes well, the candidate interviews with the leadership team, who makes the final hiring decision. Candidates know this process up front and the expected timing for a hiring decision.

2. If there is a major change in your hiring process or timing, notify active candidates as quickly as you can. Things happen. Priorities change. You may need to postpone hiring for a position or decide not to fill a position at all. Let candidates know.

3. If someone has interviewed for a position, let them know if they didn’t get the job as soon as you know. It’s just common courtesy. We know you can’t personally contact everyone who applies for a position, but if you thought enough of a candidate to bring them in for an interview, call or email and thank them for their time and interest.

Treat your candidates with simple courtesy and respect. Yes, it takes a little time, but the positive impression you make will last far longer.

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