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Didn't Land The Job? Your Interview Could Still Be Far From Over

All too often candidates view the hiring process as successful only if they land the job.

08/31/2017 17:28 EDT | Updated 08/31/2017 17:36 EDT

I recently heard an anecdote about a fortuitous hire that's paid long-term dividends. About a decade ago, a mid-sized company in Alberta had narrowed its candidates for an open position down to two people who were evenly matched. Both had stellar resumes and recommendations, and each had made great impressions during the interview process. The choice ultimately came down to a vote that split two-to-one in favour of one over the other.

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Unfortunately, they chose poorly.

The new hire didn't fit with the team and their work style just didn't align with the way the company operated. It was an honest mistake, but the employee was let go before their probationary period ended. Instead of going through the entire process again, the team decided to reach out to the second candidate who, miraculously, was still available. She was hired and has steadily moved up the ranks over the past 10 years.

All too often candidates view the hiring process as successful only if they land the job.

When I think of that story, I can't help but realize how unlikely it was that both parties would end up happy in that situation. The company had obviously built a smart process that allowed them to bring in the other frontrunner without re-instigating an arduous process for that candidate. And the candidate obviously had enough sense to realize that just because the company made the wrong choice didn't mean it wasn't the right place to work. Both sides benefited from understanding the hiring process as a process, not as an end result.

All too often candidates view the hiring process as successful only if they land the job. On the other side, businesses only view the process from their perspective. By taking some time to view the process from the other side's perspective, we can make the experience better for everyone.

Employees: Don't let pride get in your way

It's a tough pill to swallow when someone else is chosen over you. We take pride in our professional accomplishments and can sometimes take rejection to heart. However, we really don't know what was happening behind the scenes that led to the company's ultimate decision. Maybe you weren't the right cultural fit. Maybe they flipped a coin because you were both so qualified! Whatever the ultimate reason, it's best to not to take it personally.

As evidenced by the story above, putting pride aside can lead to a great outcome. While you want to avoid a company that provides a legitimately bad experience, being able to assess the process without regard for outcome is a valuable skill. Something to keep in mind: if you're angry you weren't chosen for a position, this can be chalked up to pride. If you're disappointed, it's likely because you truly wanted to join that organization.

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Employees: Keep in touch

If you think you were a good fit for the job and the company, let them know. A quick email to the hiring manager thanking them for the opportunity and expressing your continued desire to join their team can make a lasting impression.

Keeping in touch isn't restricted to the hiring manager. Reaching out to HR and anyone else you met with can help to ensure that when a similar position opens up, your resume will head to the top of the pile.

Employers: Employees are expensive, but not having an employee is more expensive

When filling an open position, how many times has your company interviewed someone that had gone through your hiring process before? How many times has your company interviewed someone who had made it to the final stage? If your answer is never or very rarely, it's time to review your policies and procedures and improve your overall candidate experience. Candidates that made it through the initial screening processes are an excellent pool of ready-made interview prospects. You should do whatever you can to draw them back (or at least not scare them away).

A bad experience can drive away potential future employees, raising the cost of hiring.

Finding employees is expensive. The cost of bringing on a new employee, from job posting to day one, is difficult to pin down, but some estimates place it at 150 per cent of an employee's salary. The longer a position goes unfilled, the more expensive it is. Yet, how frequently do hiring managers or HR professionals actually review the experience that a candidate has when applying for a position? Not enough. A bad experience can drive away potential future employees, raising the cost of hiring, not to mention the negative impact on your brand overall.

Employers: Talk to your employees

The first step to improving your hiring process is to speak with recent hires to get a sense of their experience. A short, simple survey that they can fill out in their first week (before they're loaded up with work!) can help you identify any pain points in the process. Maybe the website application function is a nightmare; maybe you conduct three interviews when one could have sufficed. Whatever it is, fix it. You want applicants' first impression to excite them, not send them running for the hills.

These small actions can pay big dividends. Your dream career or ideal candidate may have been closer than you thought. All it takes is a bit of perspective to see it.

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