Cut & Polish

How to Lose Talent in 10 Ways

The silver screen is filled with iconic couples: Jack and Rose, Harry and Sally, Ennis and Jack, Princess Leia and Han Solo, MJ and Peter Parker, Quincy and Monica, Edward and Bella… the list could go on and on. These movie duos are top-of-mind in February as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, but here at Gem we can’t help but think of another iconic duo: recruiters and the candidates they’re “courting.”

With romantic comedies on the brain, the Great Resignation constantly looming, and a surge of candidate experience expectations, we decided to collect some of our own employees' worst candidate experiences and give you reliable insights for correcting bad behaviors. Think of this as an ode to the romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Below you’ll find 10 ways that’ll make you lose out on a potentially amazing candidate—along with best practices I've picked up through my own years of experience, and hundreds of conversations with candidates and recruiters over the years: 

1. I took a 6 month sabbatical to recharge my batteries. During that time I avoided LinkedIn and most other social media platforms. When I returned I noticed one recruiter had messaged me 16 times in the span of about 2 months. It was a little aggressive, especially since I wasn’t opening the messages or responding. 

Technology makes it easier than ever to connect, but we can’t forget that humans are behind those screens. Continuous outreach with no response should be your sign to reel it in and move on to greener pastures. I mean… other candidates.

2. Last week I got a call from a company that I had a first round interview with almost 11 months ago. They wanted to schedule my second round hiring manager screen… after ghosting me for ALMOST A YEAR!

Track your communications! Gem makes it easy to see all of your outreach in one place. And if there’s been a long gap of time between messages, own up to what happened. I think you’ll realize people are more understanding than you think they are. 

3. I had an emergency and I asked the recruiter if I could reschedule my third round interview. I know that’s not ideal, and I’m sure recruiters get all kinds of excuses, but I was hopeful they would be understanding of my situation. I never heard back from the company. It was so odd.

As recruiters, we’ve heard every excuse in the book, but even though we’ve been burned before, it’s important to give the benefit of the doubt when a candidate needs to reschedule at the last minute. 

Remember, your employer brand is always on the line.

4. I gave a lot of valuable time to the interview process for one role (multiple phone screenings, an almost all-day onsite). After the onsite, I never heard back from the recruiter. About two weeks later, I got an automated email rejection saying, “We have reviewed your resume and at this time have decided that there are stronger matches for our current needs.” It put the worst taste in my mouth and I vowed to never work for that company.

Here’s the thing: automated email can be a game changer for recruiters, but when used incorrectly it can create a terrible candidate experience. When a candidate has spent a significant amount of time interviewing at your company, a phone call or well-written email will help ease the rejection. 

5. A recruiter once messaged me saying that I would be perfect for an engineering role, which was weird because I’m in sales.

This one is easy! Do. Your. Research. Use tools like Gem to make sure you have the most up-to-date information on a candidate, and that all of your tools are integrated. 

6. At an onsite interview, the hiring team began the day by gathering all the candidates in a room and bringing in a motivational speaker to give us a 30-minute pep talk. I’m sure his life story was inspiring and all; but his experience didn’t look anything like mine, and I found myself even MORE nervous than I was when it was time for my interview rounds.

While some might find a tactic like inspiring, it’s just as likely to put others off. One of the things we’re hearing—with great regularity—from recruiting teams this year is that candidates are dropping out of process because more is being demanded of them than they’re willing to give. Whether it’s asking candidates to sit through a motivational speaker, having one too many interviews in your process, or drawing out the process inadvertently in other ways… don’t do it. Optimize wherever you can. (And survey your candidates no matter how far they get into your process! This is the best qualitative data you can get on what felt good—and what didn’t—for them.)

7. It’s not the worst experience, but I find it odd when recruiting agencies send vague descriptions of the company they want me to apply for. Wording like “an innovative SaaS management platform” just doesn’t give me enough context.  

There are actually a lot of reasons why a recruiter might not be able to tell you the exact company they are recruiting for. But from my point of view, it's as important for recruiting agencies and RPOs as it is for in-house talent teams to get their messaging JUST right if they hope to move the needle at all on responses from passive talent. Unpersonalized, copy/pasted outreach won’t ever be as impactful as a custom message.

8. Once during an interview the hiring manager asked me to describe my relationship with my mother with the context being that it would showcase how I would work with her as a manager. It was an extremely personal and inappropriate question. Looking back I wish I hadn’t even answered it, but I was so thrown off by the question! 

This one made me cringe. It’s hard to lose a candidate because someone on the hiring team is not trained. Before a teammate is included in the hiring panel, it’s vital that you train them on interview decorum. Additionally, be sure to ask for candidate feedback so that you can remedy interview faux pas like this. 

9. Sending a message to my work email. I will never understand why any recruiter would think that was appropriate.

We’ve all been there. You've got a quota to fill and you’re up a stream without a paddle, or in this case a personal email. With Gem, you have premium email lookup and verification AKA the latest personal email for someone you’d like to source. 

10. The recruiter kept rescheduling the calendar invite with the hiring manager without confirming if I was available at that time. I know schedules are busy, but it’s hard to be prepared and feel focused when you don’t know when you’ll be interviewing. 

Yes, your team’s time is valuable, but your candidate's time is just as valuable. You should never move an interview without their consent. Accommodating their schedule is non-negotiable. 

In conclusion, it’s hard out here for recruiters. I know the best recruiters endeavor to avoid these errors, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded how easy it is to lose out on a great candidate for the smallest reason. Now, go out there and give those candidates the best experience! 


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Head of Business Recruiting
February 10, 2022
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