The 4 Moments of Truth in the Hiring Process—and how to Handle Them

Row of business people getting ready for raceThe commercial world has long been aware of the idea of a “moment of truth” in the sales process. In a white paper by Mckinsey consulting, called the ‘The Moment of Truth’ in customer service, they describe it as the crucial moments during business customer interactions where the “long term relationship between a business and its customers can change significantly for better or worse.” Therefore, during these crucial moments the customers impression of the business can improve or deteriorate dramatically.

This “moment of truth” is a concept that can be broadly applied to many industries and processes. In particular, I think it can be applied to the hiring process to help employers optimize their candidate attraction process.

For example, as the employer, you’re selling your employer brand and experience (the product or service) to the candidate (the customer) during the hiring process. And some recent research from CareerBuilder leads me to suggest that there are four key moments of truth in the hiring process where the candidate perception of your business can change dramatically for the better or the worse. And in order to maximize your company’s appeal to candidates, you must be aware of these “moments of truth” in the hiring process and respond appropriately to ensure that a positive impression is created.

Below, I have identified what I see as the four moments of truth in the job hunt—based on the CareerBuilder research—and I have suggested some appropriate responses to ensure you handle the moments of truth in the most effective way, which will optimize your level of appeal to candidates.

  1. First Glance at the job description—the most attention grabbing content in a job description—which would spark the candidate’s initial interest—was perception of the company and industry, interesting work and growth opportunities.
  2. Negotiating the application process—while the content of an ad was crucial to forming the candidate’s first impression, the top three reasons for candidates not applying to a job was that: a link was not working, computer/Internet problems and a lengthy application process.
  3. Acknowledgment/rejection letter. The Career Builder Applicant experience study found that 44 percent of candidates who did not hear back from an employer, when they applied for a job, would have a worse opinion of that employer. Also, 78 percent of them said that they would tell others about their bad experience with the employer.
  4. First human contact—the study also found that a bad first impression could cause job seekers to eliminate the employer from their considerations altogether. They found that 21 percent felt that the employer was not enthusiastic about their own company, 17 percent did not believe the recruiter was knowledgeable and 15 percent did not think the recruiter was professional.

With this knowledge of the four key moments of truth in the hiring process, employers should take steps to ensure that they manage them effectively to ensure that each encounter positively enhances their brands. Such steps include an effective, end-to-end and timely candidate communication process so applicants are not left in the dark at any point.

Also, fully train and brief your recruiters to ensure that they are both knowledgeable and positive about the business in all candidate interactions – and ensure you choose external recruiters who reflect your employer brand.

Don’t forget to look at your application process. Test out your own application process or compare it to your competitors’. Is it slow and cumbersome? Would it put you off applying? If so, maybe you need to modify it so it is a more efficient job application process.

And, finally, consider first contact with the job seeker, which is the job description. Make sure that this includes all the most attention grabbing content, written in a highly promotional and candidate-optimized way. At the very least this should contain engaging descriptions of company culture, the team and the job as well a demonstration of the company’s commitment to career development.

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Kazim Ladimeji
Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.