Poor Hiring Practices Spells Negative PR For Companies


How The Law of 250 Can Adversely Affect Your Brand

by Peter Cotton, founder and president of Best Sales Talent, LLC

I talk to plenty of job-seeking candidates every week.  Like a doctor taking a patient’s history before recommending any treatment, I always ask the candidate what they have done so far about making a career change. That’s when I hear about the interviews they have had so far.  During these conversations, I frequently learn about some of the really bad treatment the hiring managers have given them.

Let me be clear about the ramifications of treating candidates poorly.

Have you ever heard about the Law of 250?

Simply stated, if I gave a person an unlimited budget to host a lavish party and told him or her to invite as many people as they wished, he or she would have no problem coming up with a guest list of 250 people.  It would be comprised of family, including distant relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.  If every one of these guests were duly impressed with the décor, service, food, ambiance and music, thereby having a great time at the party, they’d be sure to tell many others about what a marvelous time they had, how gracious the host was to them, how lovely it was, etc.

The reverse is also true.

If the party was held outdoors on a blistering summer day (temperatures in the high 90’s with humidity over 80%), no shade, nowhere to sit down, only one bartender, cold food presented in an unattractive way which was covered with flies, no music, no décor or ambiance, what do you suppose the “reviews” would be when they spoke to people about it once the party was over?

Candidates can be customers – their entire extended family, their friends, their neighbors and their co-workers can all be customers of a company doing the interviewing.  This is even more important if the interviewing company makes or sells consumer products.  Now, with today’s technology, when candidates get turned off from a poorly conducted interview or have received bad treatment, they not only spread the word among the 250 who they know, but they “inform” hundreds of thousands of others they don’t know via Facebook and Twitter.  They text and email their story and these stories get forwarded.  They post it on their own blogs.  And to make things even worse for the interviewing company, disgruntled candidates post their stories to sites like:





www.complaintsboard.com/  and


There are scores of others.

Treating candidates with respect, as important people, is the key.  Employers should be welcoming candidates in every way possible.  From giving specific directions on how to get to their offices, on where to park, an offer to use the restroom on their arrival, the gesture of providing coffee or a cold drink, a tour, introduction to others, a genuine interest in them and respect for their time.  You get the idea.

Fortunately for us, when employers work with recruiters, we rarely hear negative stories like what you will see in the list below.  These usually happen to candidates who have gone directly to the employer by responding to a job posting.

Here now, in no particular order, are some of the things we hear that candidates have experienced and that certainly are negatively impacting on the reputations of companies and their brands:

— Candidate is given a date and time for a phone interview, but the employer is not available at the appointed time.  Call goes to voicemail.  Call is not returned by the employer the same day, but is the next day –usually at an inconvenient time for the candidate (when he is at work surrounded by co-workers and cannot speak). Sometimes the employer never returns the call at all.

— Candidate drives a great distance for the interview, taking a full day out of work, using up a vacation day.  The employer forgets about the interview and isn’t there.

— No feedback/communication from employer after an interview – leaving the candidate totally in the dark for weeks on end.

— HR promising a prompt decision, but no decision comes — for weeks and even months.  One candidate lamented that she waited more than 6 months after her first and only face-to-face interview, only to learn that they hired from within.

— Many candidates report being treated disrespectfully – as if they were an interruption to the employer’s day, not important or valued – even candidates who are eminently qualified for the job.

— Employer invites candidate into the office for an interview, but the candidate is kept waiting in the lobby for over an hour while the employer makes phone calls from his office.

— Employer takes several phone calls (totaling 15 minutes) during the candidate’s 30-minute interview.

— Employer allows co-workers and subordinates to enter the room during the interview for conversations pertaining to day-to-day business.

— Stress interviews – candidate is forced to look across the desk towards the employer who is seated in front of a window.  The sun is pouring in over the shoulder of the employer onto the candidate’s face.  Employer is in shadow.

— Other stress interview tactics: verbally assaulting candidates, asking irrelevant questions (how many birds can fit in a tractor trailer) then acting as if the candidate is stupid for not having a quick answer; asking questions in rapid sequence, interrupting the candidate and hardly giving them a moment to answer; asking the candidate their opinions on politics, religion and sex.

— Employer calls an employed candidate at 7 PM on a Monday evening asking the candidate to come in for an interview at 8 AM the next day.

— Not reimbursing a candidate for mileage when the candidate drove 200 miles round trip to come for the interview as requested.

— Candidates waiting months to get reimbursed for air, rental car, hotel and meal expenses incurred on an interview.

— Subjecting a candidate to 6 interviews with different people over several weeks, then giving the candidate a test, only to learn that he “doesn’t fit the profile.”

— HR strings a candidate along for 6 months with constant promises that another interview is forthcoming, if only the hiring manager’s schedule permitted it, “since he works so hard, travels so much, and has so much to do.”  After several months, the candidate is so frustrated and disgusted, they would never dream of working for such an indecisive company (As the romance goes, so goes the marriage.)

— Employers who continuously interview, bringing in more and more people, but never eliminating people they saw months earlier.  Those interviewed first wait endlessly for an answer about a next step.

— Candidate takes several days out of work, counts them as personal days/vacation days, goes through several rounds of interviews only to learn the company decided to fill the position internally.


These are only a few examples.

Smart employers protect their company reputation and brand by treating candidates they interview as VIPs.  They spend considerable time training their employees to understand that candidates can destroy the company reputation from having just one bad encounter.  That can ultimately cost the company BIG money. Very BIG money from lost customers and from other qualified candidates learning that the company is one NOT to work for.