This week I had a mentee ask me for advice for her upcoming on-campus interview.
“Sure” I said, “let me see the itinerary.” She responded and said that she had not received it yet. I asked her when the interview was scheduled and she responded that she was at the airport headed to the interview–it was the very next day!
I have heard similar things from candidates in the job search over the past couple of years and I still don’t understand it. Why are departments not providing this information 1-3 weeks in advance?
I know that recruitment season is a busy time and it can be difficult to schedule campus partners to meet with candidates but recruiting and hiring the most talented people we can find should be a top institutional priority, particularly for this positions who have the most direct contact with our students.
I took to Twitter to voice my concerns:
@annmarieklotz: I have heard of many #sasearch candidates not getting an itinerary for their interview till they arrive on campus. That seems crazy to me!
In quick succession I received over 75 tweets and DM’s recounting their own disorganized, confusing and occasionally embarrassing (on behalf of the department) on-campus interview mishaps.
These accounts included everything from being stranded at the airport because no one picked them up to staying in an on-campus apartment with no toilet paper.
I heard stories of hosts speaking poorly about the department to the candidate and situations where a candidate was not informed that there was a presentation component of the interview–until they arrived to the interview!
We must do better if we are to attract quality applicants. A few tips to consider.
1) Teach search management processes: If we only continue to do what we know or have experienced (based on the aforementioned horror stories) we won’t break the cycle. Take time to train your recruitment team on search strategies–don’t assume they know the best way to communicate with candidates. In many cases HR can be helpful but I often look to institutions who have great success with the recruitment process and take time to learn about their strategies and how they can be modified to fit a particular institution type.
2) Over-communicate with candidates every step of the way: Have several points of contact with candidates before the interview to schedule, confirm and ask if they have any questions prior to the interview.
Within three days of a placement exchange every candidate in your process should know where they stand–first tier (brining to campus), second tier (still being considered but not in the first round to come to campus) or they should be informed that they are not moving forwarding your process.
3) Create guidelines for on-campus hosts: Teach your staff the expectations for attire, communication, travel accommodations, meals, etc. Make sure they are prepared to be a resource every step of the way for your candidate. Quite simply, you want candidates to see that your department has its act together and this one day is your opportunity to showcase what you do best!
4) Conduct a pre and post assessment of the candidate experience: Consider creating an anonymous survey to be sent out to all of your candidates at the conclusion of the process to ask about their impressions of the institution and the department before, during and after the recruitment process. Use this feedback as a teaching tool for next year.
We are only as good as the people we hire. Our students deserve the very best!
What other tips would you suggest?
Follow me on Twitter: @annmarieklotz