5 Ways to Avoid a Bad Hiring Reputation

A Bad Rep When It Comes to Hiring Will Lead to Less Qualified Applicants


Listen to Honest Feedback

Think about the last time someone turned down a job offer you tendered. How did that feel? You can tell me it’s none of my business and I won’t be offended, but that gut-kick response does warrant deeper consideration.

Having a high caliber candidate walk away from an interview thinking “Thanks, but no thanks” should have you asking a lot of questions and not merely dismissing them as a poor fit. You could stand to learn a lot about your company’s image, and the overall perception of your business “on the street” if you can just sit down and listen to honest feedback.

Easy to say, not so easy to do. But hear me out on this.

Identify the Problem

As an external resource serving a client, I will often hear the same great feedback time and again on a job/company from multiple candidates. These job seekers are smart, high caliber and technically brilliant people. If they have done the due diligence — and they always do — that validation is very telling. I know I’ve hit the proverbial “sweet spot” or nexus of great client and great job opportunity. This makes finding the best athlete for them much easier and more rewarding.

However, if a candidate comes away from an interview with a bad taste in their mouth, I make it my business to find out exactly what went wrong. Then I provide the candidate and client relevant feedback. Often, it’s just not a strong enough fit to warrant a second round. It’s rare that someone did something or said something off-color or behaved unprofessionally, but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t happened.

Bad News Travels Fast

One-off situations can alienate a great candidate, but it’s unlikely to sully your good name in the marketplace. Not as easy to overcome, however, are persistent rumors, negative speculations and bad-mouthing about your firm and/or its management team that erupt from former employees, current or former clients and, of course, the competition. And if you are a major player in a small industry, bad news travels even faster.

If negative reviews about your company have got you struggling for good hires, you need to do something about it immediately. It takes a bit of courage and thick skin to find out exactly how your company and your management style is perceived by your employees, but it could be the key to saving your business.

Here are a few measures you can take today to keep bad press from eighty sixing your hiring plans.

5. Hire an HR Ninja

Employee engagement is the hot topic in most high growth companies today. But grabbing coffee monthly with every staff member is just not realistic when you’re moving so fast. This is where a value-add Human Resources professional can provide both fresh insight and immediate relief.

With an objective and accessible presence, a strong HR professional is able to engage and extract information from disengaged or disenchanted workers. They don’t pose the same sort of “threat” that many feel when talking to the boss, and often treated as a confidante, sounding board and advisor to the team. If your HR Manager has a great ear and diplomatic style, employees are more likely to be very open and honest about what they think is wrong with the organization, the product, the structure or the strategy.

When empowered to ask tough questions, a great HR professional is more likely to get the good, bad and the ugly insights, and not the watered-down version when posed by the CEO.

4. Hire an Executive Recruiter

Ok, so I’m a little biased, but this is one of the lesser known perks of working with an external resource.

First, we are inch deep and mile wide into so many different companies, industries and markets. After 15 years of recruiting, I’ve already forgotten what most have yet to learn about what a great candidate/company fit looks like on paper. Now it’s just instinct backed up by a lot of due diligence.

When you place multiple people within a single company, you become part of the fabric. You know their mission, management and culture like it is your own, and you just know what works there and what doesn’t. You also learn a great deal about the warts every company has — how big, how many, and exactly where they are on the frog, err company. You understand exactly how to pitch the company’s strengths, and frame its weaknesses.

Having an employee sign an offer letter with stars in their eyes and absolutely no depth perception only leads to their dissatisfaction and eventual fall off. If they can accept that nobody is perfect and (as with people) flaws in companies are inevitable, then you have an educated employee who has a balanced perception. This leads to longer retention and employee satisfaction.

3. Conduct Exit Interviews

Your MVP employee just tendered a resignation. The impulse to either throw him/her out right now or beg them to stay is a normal emotional response to the ugly realities of entrepreneurship. People leave good companies all the time, but the reasons why they leave often go unexplored.

Career advancement and bigger paychecks are often cited, but those are the reason they accepted the new job. You need to find out why they started looking in the first place. More often than not, s/he isn’t going to put all their cards on the table unless you are willing to take off your “boss” hat and genuinely listen.

Leaving a company on a high note and securing a great reference may keep even the most earnest person from giving you an honest review, especially if its got something to do with you. And if we’re talking about a star performer, don’t leave it to one of your staff. Send an invitation to lunch if an exit interview seems too formal. This may be an opportunity to learn how to improve your management style, maybe even get them to reconsider.

To get to the heart of the matter, ask open-ended questions such as; how did you find out about the new job? How long had you been keeping an eye out? What was the deciding factor that pushed you to make the leap? What could I/we have done to keep you from considering a move? The more they talk, the better your chances of uncovering what went wrong, or if they simply needed a new challenge.

There’s also no harm in reaching out to employees who left during the past year or two for additional insights. Personal gripes (if any) are usually faded by then, and you’ll be remembered more favorably just for extending the opportunity to let them air grievances if there were any.

2. Clean Up Your Act

Like it or not, social media is here to stay.

Access to information is a click away, and savvy job seekers are using all means possible to learn about your company before the first round interview. If you missed a couple of payrolls, sued an employee for breach of a non-compete, failed to honor commission plans, or suffered through embezzlement, it’s out there. Financial struggles are normal for early stage companies, but legal trouble, dishonest business practices and weak technology and/or hiring practices spell trouble to potential employees.

Even with a tough job market, it’s not worth taking a chance on a questionable company when a much better opportunity may be a month or two away. Smart business owners know the power of the Internet, with sites offering quick access to basic company information that can influence a candidate’s decision on whether they want to work for you.

Cleaning up reputation is getting easier, but you need to address the issues disgruntled employees are talking about first. Whether they are true or false accusations, perception is pervasive and often permanent.

1. Yelp Yourself

If they can see, so can you.

If you have never Googled your own name, or your company name, it’s worth a look. If nothing comes up, don’t stop there. Click on the link below to go to the next level. Register.com posted this in-depth summary of free and fee-based services for reputation seekers and for reputation protection.

Perhaps the only thing worse than people saying bad things about your company, is not knowing what, if anything, is being said about you. Be prepared and do your due diligence.


Hiring, HR, recruitment