For many job applicants, the recruitment and selection process is an introduction of what it might feel like to work at that organization. Studies have shown that applicants who had generally positive reactions during the recruitment process are more inclined to accept job offers with the company.

Organizations must realise that the recruitment process is not limited to determining which candidate gets the job. In actual fact, recruitment is a two-way street. While hiring managers are trying to find the right people for the jobs, applicants on the other hand are similarly assessing the company for value and culture fit. Remarkably, many organizations fail to take into cognizance the applicant’s viewpoint when developing recruitment strategies. This ignorance (intentional or not) often evokes supercilious recruiters who genuinely believe that they are doing the candidate a favour when in fact it is the other way round!

So why should your organization care about applicant reactions? Well, here are 3 convincing reasons:

  • People talk

When someone forms a negative impression about a company’s product or services, they tend to talk to others about it. Likewise, if an applicant has generally negative opinions about the company, they are less likely to recommend the company to their friends. Today, negative reviews travel at a more rapid rate to even further locations with the aid of modern technology. To further exacerbate matters, there are websites today like Glassdoor where people can post reviews about companies they have interviewed with.

Certainly, organizations could easily lose potentially strong candidates to the competition when word gets out about an applicant’s negative experience. Further, the company might even lose current and potential clients if their brand image is tarnished.

  • -ve reaction = Pandora’s box of lawsuits

Negative applicant reactions could spike a plethora of lawsuits from disgruntled candidates. Just ask companies like Walmart –multiple litigations are excruciating to say the least. Organizations easily fall into this trap with unstructured interview processes which do not offer the candidates any opportunities to showcase their capabilities.

What is further aggravating is that many renowned corporations still ask discriminatory questions like marital status and state of origin during the selection process. And what happens when people feel like they were treated unfairly? That’s right, they sue.

  • Applicants could withdraw or abandon their applications

It’s 2017. We live in a technological age which offers us quick and easily solutions to mundane processes. As a job seeker, one thing that absolutely grinds my gears is tedious job applications which requires one to manually impute categories. I can attest that this discourages me from completing my application and other candidates might feel the same way.

What’s worse is that some selection procedures expect applicants to go through unnecessary non job-related hurdles before they get the job. This is not the Hunger Games! Applicants are not meant to be tossed around for your amusement.


It should be said that organizations may not always be able to avoid negative applicant reactions. For instance, when a very interested candidate does not get the job, it is expected that they will express negative emotions. Reactions like that cannot be controlled. The ramifications following negative emotions can however be avoided. The following recommendations have been tested by occupational psychology research to avoid the impact of negative applicant reactions:

  • All assessments must be job-related.

Organizations have to be sure that their selection procedures APPEAR to the job applicant to be a valid predictor of their job performance. This can be achieved by conducting a proper job analysis prior to the recruitment process. Interviewers and decision makers must stick with the KSAO’s developed from the job analysis to create assessments that offers opportunities for candidates to also demonstrate their Knowledge, skills and abilities.

Decision makers must only ask questions that are directly related to the job. Totally avoid discriminatory questions like sex, age, number of children, marital status and state of origin when it is not a genuine occupational requirement.

  • Provide constructive and timely feedback

I cannot accurately count the number of times recruiters have left me hanging having gone through several selection stages. Feedback is very important and candidates deserve to know the outcome of a physically and emotionally strenuous job application. It is well-known that recruiters have to sieve through quite a number of applications but a generic rejection email at least will suffice (even though I find generic emails to be lazy and dismissive).

Excellent selection procedures offer regular feedback to their candidates and provide opportunities for two-way communication. Applicants are not entitled to constructive feedback however this often yeilds positive reactions as it helps to shed light on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses and to help them better prepare for their next interview.

  • Ensure Consistency

This is a very important aspect of the selection process. You do not want to experience a scenario where the applicants discover that they were asked completely different questions during the assessment stage. That only leads them to believe that your selection process is unfair. All tests, assessments and scores must be standardized across all candidates for the same role.

  • Transparency is key

Organizations must set clear expectations about the roles, competencies and stages of the selection process. Research has shown that 60% of job seekers go straight to the job description and person specification to know if they are a fit right off the bat. For this reason, job descriptions must be explicit and the person specifications must be clearly laid out.

It will be unfair to dismiss a candidate for a skill they do not possess if the person specification did not deem it as essential or desirable. It is also important to map out the application process clearly on your company’s website so that applicants can properly manage their expectations.

  • Treat applicants with respect

How an organization treats candidates at all stages of the recruitment process is almost always a reflection of how they treat their employees. Candidate treatment may be the make-or-break factor in an applicant’s decision to work for an organization. To ensure that your candidates are fairly treated, hiring managers must be properly trained on how to interact with applicants as well as thoroughly prepared to ask and answer questions about the role and the company in general.

All interviews must be properly scheduled to avoid keeping applicants waiting –especially those who might have had to travel or commute from distant locations. Be considerate; offer reasonable solutions such as the utilisation of modern recruitment software to make sending applications easier and faster. Finally, organizations should be willing to offer flexible alternatives such as video interviews for candidates who might find it difficult to attend interviews.


  1. Anthony Haynes says:

    Reblogged this on FJWilson Talent Services and commented:
    Anthony Haynes writes: Two regular themes of our blog are the importance of employer branding and (in part, because of that) of candidate and applicant experience. Here we reblog a practical post from a stimulating HR blog, The Peppy HR Girl, written by Misan Omagbitse.


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