Blog: Dealing with the 'dropout' problem

Strategic HR

Dealing with the 'dropout' problem

When a prospective recruit doesn't join, the company needs to introspect and redesign the entire hiring process
Dealing with the 'dropout' problem

Finally! Finally! You are able to identify and make an offer to your dream candidate in this talent drenched environment. You literally are on cloud nine because all your efforts as a recruiter in perhaps closing this critical business position would pay off. This whole process of pursuing consultants for sourcing profiles, conducting initial screening, getting line managers to conduct multiple evaluation rounds, building consensus on the suitability of the profile and finally the ABCD of compensation negotiation has taken a long course and now you have the chosen one who is ready to take your offer.

You do some bit of final negotiation to make the candidate join on a certain date, which he finally agrees to. You do a preliminary reference check that turns out satisfactory. And there you go quickly plugging the details in the offer letter template and making the provisional offer to the candidate, which he readily accepts with his signature agreeing to join you on a certain date.

There you are with a sense of victory and some sigh of relief. Even the business is contented to know that finally there is a resource that is slated to join for the crucial position.

In the intermittent period, you keep a tab on the medical report, background verification report and completion of the pre- joining formalities. The induction plan along with the welcome kit is also put in place. You roll out the red carpet for the candidate and wait for the candidate to join you as scheduled.

But oops...the candidate doesn’t turn up on the designated date. The bouquet that you have ordered to welcome this new joinee now looks like a bunch of thorns. You desperately try calling up the candidate but to your dismay he is either not reachable or is not responding. You then call up the consultant who is equally clueless.

The frantic search starts and all possible sources you know of are contacted to know as to why the candidate has dropped out and has changed his mind about joining your organisation.

After spending a lot of time and effort, you come to know that the candidate has been retained by his current company or has discovered something because of which he is no more interested in joining your organisation or has perhaps decided to join some other company.

It now seems as if the entire pack of cards is falling in front of your eyes. You roll back the red carpet disappointed and disgruntled. The blame game starts and the candidate is literally alleged for being disloyal, non-committed, fickle minded, unclear, untrustworthy etc. There is a feeling that candidate has literally cheated your organisation.

Some degree of panic also creeps in because this candidate was your sure shot bet for meeting the business requirements and your best hope for closing the position. The news is shared with the business partners who get equally upset with the development. Nevertheless, they give you some solace by saying that candidates are becoming unpredictable day by day and we should now look for an alternative on priority. The recruitment cycle begins again....

Definitely, the candidate has failed on his commitment, which is wrong on his part, but this issue cannot be entirely attributed to candidate’s betrayal because a lot of other factors have contributed to this decision:

In such a scenario, some of the fundamental questions that need to asked are:

  1. How much time did the recruiting manager spend interacting with the prospective recruit in-order to personally clear his apprehensions & doubts if any?
  2. What did the organisation and the recruiting manager do to engage with the candidate right from the time he accepted the offer?
  3. Did the recruiting manager watch out for candidate’s reaction at every step of the recruitment process?
  4. Was the employer brand projected and leveraged optimally to help candidate make a more confident choice?
  5. Were there any elements in the offer where the candidate was compromising?
  6. How transparent and clear was the communication on the job opportunity and the position for which the candidate was being considered?
  7. Was there any doubt or inhibition in recruiter’s mind regarding candidate’s joining? If yes, what was done to address them?
  8. What was the comfort level that candidate had in approaching and talking to the recruiter freely?

Close reflection of these questions will throw some important insights on what can be done to prevent dropouts among offered candidates. What can be done to reduce this tendency?

It is known that after accepting the offer from a prospective employer, when the candidate announces his intention of moving on from the current organisation, a set of psychological and external forces start influencing the candidate’s decision. The candidate remains in the state of dilemma until he makes a firm decision with no double thoughts.

Let us look at some of these factors and forces:

  1. A slew of retention measures from the current supervisor, HR and other organisation stakeholders immediately come into effect. These are done to counter the offer which the candidate has received.
  2. The candidate himself is in a state of psychological dilemma, he starts exploring about the opportunity from various internal and external trusted sources. He even approaches some of the employees of the new organisation to know more about the internal state of affairs.
  3. Changing a job is not an easy decision and it comes with a set of pros and cons, which the candidate would be evaluating to the best of his ability.
  4. What is also important to understand and empathise is that candidate shares some level of emotional bonding with his current organisation and immediate supervisor. He will only decide to make a switch if he gets that emotional comfort from the new organisation.
  5. The candidate may be having other offers and would be evaluating the merit of your offer against them. You might just be oblivious to this fact.
  6. The candidate may be using your offer to negotiate with his current employer or other employers. You never know.

The point is that good talent has to be engaged right from the time of screening and more so after extending the provisional offer. The recruiter, who is the face of the company for the candidate, can play a larger role beyond routine operational activities.

Let us look at how the recruiter and the organisation can make a lasting impact on the prospective candidate:

The role and position should be explained to the candidate in a detailed manner. A detailed job description should be shared in advance so that there no ambiguity about what the role entails.

The organisation hierarchy and the corresponding level where the candidate would be joining should be made clear. Also, the future growth prospects in terms of career advancement must be communicated so that candidate gets a fair line of sight.

Take out adequate time for offer closure process. Help candidate understand the modalities and make up his mind. Don’t press on the candidate to accept the offer. Give him enough space and time.

A leaflet/brochure highlighting company’s core competencies and value proposition should be made available to candidate along with the offer. It should capture brief history, achievements, awards & accolades, leadership team profile, vision, mission, industry standing and other factors which give company a competitive advantage over others.

Offer letter is just the initiation of a formal association with the candidate. Recruiter must constantly keep in touch with the candidate to iron out any hitches and doubts in his mind.

The recruiter should be sensitive and receptive to any of candidate’s slightest concern over location, compensation, designation, work profile, joining date, induction, perks, policies etc. Any one of these can later turn into the main reason for not joining the organisation.

Make a note of unusual signs like candidate dilly-dallying offer acceptance for no reasons, not resigning from his current services, over negotiating on salary, postponing the scheduled joining date, not taking interest in the pre-joining formalities, not showing basic expected inquisitiveness, drawing excessive comparisons with his current company etc.

Do multiple informal reference checks with diverse sources to know more about the candidate, his background and his reputation.

In-fact, as part of their best practices, many world-class companies invite the candidate to office premises for a pre-joining celebration and orientation. The idea is to help the candidate know more about the employer he is going to join. The candidate is taken through the company facilities, made to meet up with key stakeholders, given a download on unique benefits and is made to feel proud that he has been selected with the company and would be a part of its great culture. This exercise is very effective and helps in reinforcing the candidate’s decision of joining the new company. It also helps the candidate in making a more informed and confident decision. This practice is more common in IT & ITeS industry where hiring happens in large numbers.

A recruiter’s job is not limited to making an offer but the true test lies in getting the candidate on-boarded with enthusiasm and spirit.

So, next time if there is a dropout, do introspect and redesign the entire hiring process to enable a better connect with your prospective recruits. And don’t forget to keep backups ready for filling critical positions!!

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Topics: Strategic HR, Talent Acquisition

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