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Addressing Company Red Flags

Recent research from Greenhouse finds that lack of sufficient communication and discrimination are leaving candidates cautious during the hiring process.

By Ariana Moon

A survey from Greenhouse of 1,200 U.S. job seekers reveals the biggest red flags that candidates are facing in the hiring process. These results signal that many employers have meaningful work to do to uphold inclusive hiring practices that attract talent, especially with the U.S. continuing to experience a tight hiring market and 33 consecutive months of job growth.  

The survey highlights opportunities for employers to focus more on addressing two issues in the hiring process: discrimination and lack of sufficient communication with candidates. The majority (70%) of respondents believe that lack of communication is the biggest red flag, which extends even beyond the recruiting process as 22% share that they have been hired for jobs that didn’t match what was described during their interviews.  

Thoughtful, proactive communication is necessary to engage great talent, and often incremental improvements can go a long way. For example, Greenhouse’s Talent Acquisition team aims to have no active candidate waiting longer than two to three business days to hear about next steps in their interview process. If there isn’t a substantial update to provide within that time frame, given that internal decision-making conversations can take some time, recruiters provide a “no update” update to candidates to show them that they haven’t been forgotten. 

Another issue job seekers face is company catfishing, which happens when an employer brand is misaligned with a company’s true internal culture. Nearly half of the respondents (48%) say that a poor impression of company culture in the interview process is one of the biggest red flags, demonstrating that employer branding extends beyond a company’s website. This signals a need for employers to invest more in living out their values and being transparent about their culture. 

The most disturbing red flags involve discrimination that candidates have faced, including invasive questions about protected classes including race, gender, and national origin. While asking discriminatory interview questions puts companies at risk of potential litigation, even if a lawsuit doesn’t arise, there are implications on an employer’s brand. For example, candidates and employees alike turn to sites like Glassdoor and Reddit to voice their negative experiences with companies, which may dissuade future candidates from applying. Another aspect of the survey showed that one in every five candidates has changed their name on job applications, and 45% of this subset did so to sound less tied to an ethnically underrepresented group. This finding suggests that many candidates lack confidence that their true identities will not put them at a disadvantage in the hiring process.  

Overall, the data demonstrates that companies have work to do to ensure their hiring practices are fair and equitable, and that their brand is consistent with their internal culture. By investing in structured hiring practices, such as asking candidates questions relevant to the job, and making sure to promote and live out an inclusive brand, companies can reduce the risk of bias in hiring and ensure that each candidate walks away from the interview process feeling respected and that their time was well spent. 

Ariana Moon is the head of talent planning and acquisition at Greenhouse. 

Tags: HR News/North America, News, News Ticker

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