Ask a stupid question….
Applying for jobs is hard work and particularly so if you’re graduating in the current environment. It is hard for other groups too, I know, but it isn’t that many years since I was coming out of University and trying to get my foot on the career ladder. So I have a lot of sympathy.
Job seeking is a pretty soulless process. Time consuming, expensive, depressing and often fruitless. But you have to keep going and you have to keep positive. Despite the stupid application forms you need to complete, the ridiculous processes that are created, despite the, oh so clever, questions you have to answer.
Because yes, that question that you wrote that you thought would sort the creative wheat from the non-creative chaff is being met at best with an eye-roll and at worst with utter contempt. As one job applicant said recently to me, “[it] makes me feel like I’m not being taken seriously as a hard-working student who wants to show my skills and talents”.
Seriously, have you looked at your recruitment process from the other side of the fence? Sure there may be more candidates than there are jobs, for now. But does that make the applicants less human? I’m not talking about candidate journey – there are recruitment bloggers out there who will cover the subject much better than me. I’m talking about common decency and respect.
If you ask a candidate to complete pages and pages of answers as part of their graduate application, don’t you think you should show them a little respect back? If you’re going to ask them question after question, then at least make them relevant to the applicants and respectful of the time, hard work and financial commitment that they have already put in just to be deemed worthy to complete your process.
We all need to make selection decisions, of course. But can the candidate see the relevance of it and do they feel that they are being judged on criteria that feel fair and transparent?
“Describe a unique experience you’ve had over the last year” (are you testing me on my descriptive abilities or the quality of my experiences?)
“Where would you like to be in 5 years time?” (geographically, existentially or financially?)
“Why do you want this job?” (because medical science rejected my body and a corporate career was all that was left open to me)
So yes, ask questions, pull your application processes together, design your assessment centres, do the do. But try to put yourself in the candidate’s position too. This probably won’t be the only job they’re applying for, they’ve seen hundreds of similar processes. Make it relevant, make it easy for them to shine and make it reflect well on you, both in the short-term and for your longer brand perception.
I still have all the rejection letters that I received, somewhere in a file….I’m not against grudge bearing….I know who you are…..