Expectation management can make or break your employer brand. This article outlines the rules you simply cannot break…
Expectation management underpins the entire recruitment process. It isn’t complex, though. It simply means sticking to the timelines and commitments you set out on day one. As the hiring manager, it is your responsibility to set expectations with both internal and external stakeholders. If expectations are managed correctly, you’ll dramatically increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for both you and your prospective hire.
Should the goalposts move, however, it is up to you to inform the relevant parties. Some classic examples of unexpected issues include:
The hiring manager is doing interviews next week…
The candidate begins to plan their week with this prospect in mind. Something happens in work and you never get around to setting up the interviews. You’re too busy and forget to email the recruiter. The candidate either moves on with other interviews and puts your role on the back burner, or their perception of your trustworthiness is negatively affected. Remember, silence and time kill all deals.
Thanks for coming in for interview. We’ll be back to you before the end of the week…
The candidate goes home excited about you and your opportunity. Friday comes, but there’s no call. Candidates are human beings and will immediately default to self-protection. By Saturday, they convince themselves that they didn’t get the job and start the internal dialogue about how “it was the wrong job anyway” or “that other company got back to me faster, so they must like me more”.
Great to hear that you’re accepting the offer. I’ll get the contract out to you later today…
You’re delighted – the deal is done and it’s just admin from here. You pass the baton to HR, but the process slows. The contract issues three days later because of internal red tape, but your new hire can’t resign until they have the contract in hand. Their plans are based on the timeline you agreed at the outset, and the delay creates concern. Other roles come along, their start date is affected and you begin to see an array of other unintended consequences.
To better manage expectations during the hiring process, follow these simple but effective tips:
- Always add a day. If you’re aiming to complete a task today, set the expectation that you will do it tomorrow. Reverting early is so much better than reverting late;
- Always communicate small changes. If you need to change an expectation, keep candidates informed and make sure you provide them with a credible reason for the delay;
- The recruitment process is rarely a linear event. When it comes to human beings, there are too many variables; be ready to adjust your timeframes and adapt to evolving situations. Change isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of agility and your ability to be competitive;
- Never set an expectation you can’t meet. A throwaway line in an interview can set a seed in a candidate’s mind, but seeds can grow into flowers or weeds. Plant the wrong seed, even for the right reason, and you’ll have to live with the consequences.
Expectation management is a bit like dating – if you tell your new date that you’ll call them tomorrow and then don’t call them for a week, how long do you think that relationship will last? Never underestimate the power good expectation management can have.
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