We are in a hot job market. Businesses — from corner shops to global mammoths like Apple and Amazon — are desperate to find workers. Managers also fear losing their best and brightest to their competitors.
In this war-for-talent environment, one would think corporate leaders would bend over backwards to attract and retain talent. Many empathetic companies have offered free tuition, remote and hybrid working options, as well as mental health days off, Zoom-free Fridays, and other initiatives to improve employees’ work lives.
There is one aspect that hasn’t changed over time. Job seekers are still neglected. They have to endure a gauntlet of three to ten interviews spanning up to six months. There are gaps in communication and a lack of feedback between meetings, leaving applicants wondering what’s going on.
Companies arrogantly believe that letting applicants do tasks is acceptable practice. Employers award work under the pretense of learning whether the applicant has the skills for the role. Requests range from coding a website, to submitting ideas to solve a real problem the company is dealing with, to asking a graphic artist to submit samples for the new company logo. These and other endeavors require a significant investment of time and energy. You often hear complaints from candidates who say the company has used their ideas without their permission, nor have they been offered any credit for compensation.
We all know that the job market is incredibly challenging. Companies have great difficulty finding employees and when they do, they spend hours going to meetings and risk their bosses finding out and possibly losing their jobs. Given this fact pattern, shouldn’t companies start paying candidates for their time?
Since this isn’t already happening, you may feel like this doesn’t make sense. Before the pandemic, we all thought remote work or a large-scale digital nomad was impossible. Now it’s a proven success as the economy rallied, the stock market hit new record highs and house prices soared.
Consider this: If a company pays an applicant for every interview, even a nominal amount, it has a role to play, especially if the company has tens of thousands of employees and interviews a significant number of people on a daily basis. Suddenly, the CEO and C-suite will pay close attention to the interview process as it costs them money.
If a manager knows that candidates are being paid, the number of interviews is questioned. The CFO will question the need to pay a candidate for nine interviews instead of completing the process in one day with maybe two interviewers. If you multiply all the interviews they force an applicant to do by the number of interviews that happen weekly or monthly, the cost will be significant.
As a belt-tightening measure, management will quickly issue an edict to reduce the number of interviews whenever practicable. This policy will make hiring managers, recruiters, recruiters, and talent acquisition professionals pay close attention to how many interviews are really necessary. In addition, hiring staff must be taught how to make their own decision without relying on the consensus of 10 other people, most of whom are only loosely connected to the job.
For people who are happy where they are but curious about what jobs are available, a small financial incentive can make them decide to interview. This will add volume to the candidacy pipeline.
Frontline workers in fast food chains, warehouses and fulfillment centers, bars and retail stores, all of which are in high demand, benefit from the interview fees on offer. That extra money makes sense for a low-wage worker. It could also be seen as a deposit towards a future offer that includes a sign-up bonus. Of course, parameters have to be set so that people don’t keep interviewing just for the money.
There should also be some financial incentive for the employees involved in the interview at the company. It’s the job of the in-house recruiter and HR, but it’s a time-consuming task for everyone else. Think of all the tangential people that get drawn into the process. These people have their own jobs to do but are tasked with meeting candidates because the hiring manager is too afraid to make a decision of his own and desperately relies on others for validation of his choice of a successful candidate.
The time consumed is an “opportunity cost”. Everyone involved in the hiring process loses a part of their day that eventually has to be made up. Is it fair that because a boss lacks the courage and skills to make a decision, he has to lean on three to six other people and suck up all of their time?
In addition to paying for the interviews, it would be wise for the company to provide better training for everyone involved in the interview. This includes teaching those who lack confidence to make the final decision and helping streamline the system to make quick, intelligent decisions. Overall, this would greatly improve the current situation and enable companies to be more competitive when it comes to attracting and hiring mission-critical employees.