top of page

Consider each step of the process and what overt or inadvertent messages you may be sending to your prospective employees along the way. For example, when you’re in the resume collection phase you can set up a simple and thoughtful auto responder that says, “Thank you for submitting your resume. You can expect to hear from us by (approximately date X) about the next steps in our process.” This lets every prospective employee know that your organization is one that takes the time to consider their perspective, and respond accordingly.

We know that sometimes things can go awry during a challenging interview and that saying “no” in any context is hard. However, every prospective employee should know that your organization is one that shows respect for their applicants by responding to communication. The trend toward “ghosting” has become more and more common, and this happens on both sides; employers ghost candidates and job seekers ghost employers, too. No one seems to be immune from this bad behavior.

As an employer, strive to keep the lines of communication open. Receipt of resumes should be acknowledged; that’s what auto-responders are for, at the least. Following all interviews, respond with general messages to all candidates individually letting them know what the next steps in the process are. If you will not be advancing them, let them know quickly that you will be moving forward without them, and offer the necessary closure. Create an internal timeline for this process, and adhere to it. Recall that even when you don’t make a hire, you’re in the business of building relationships and cultivating a reputation, and that is often just as valuable as the hire that you’re making. None of us, individually or organizationally, can afford to damage our reputation by being known for ghosting prospective candidates.

We understand how valuable it is to get to know candidates, their work, and work product in an interview process. In fact, it’s crucial. However, these types of projects, when they become content that you “own” and can use, or is clearly uncompensated work for your organization, can instill distrust and place an undue burden on your candidates, while perpetuating a power imbalance in the interview process.

If you need to include an assessment, spell it out at the beginning of the process. Explain how long you anticipate the project could take, how the work will be used, and what you hope to learn based on the output. You should have documented a desired outcome of what you hope to learn. Otherwise, consider what purpose this project is serving in your process, and what might be changed to serve you best. And because this is an investment in your candidate’s time, make sure to budget so that you can compensate your candidates for their time commitment to the assessment.

A reasonable and respectful skills assessment may look like asking a candidate to review a past piece of work product and share their thoughts either in writing or conversation on that piece (assuming it’s not a 17-page legal contract). Asking a candidate to spend valuable time on a tight deadline to create several custom pieces of work for your business can be viewed as presumptuous and uncompensated labor. Due to the aforementioned power imbalance, candidates are likely to shy away from pushing back or saying no. Lead with trust by explaining exactly what amount of time you expect a project to take. Ask your candidate what their timeline might look like for completion. Expecting a short turn around can be especially burdensome on people who are quietly searching for their next role while employed or caretaking for loved ones. Assignments and assessments should have reasonable, respectful and responsible lead time, not take a lot of time to complete, and be focused on the candidate’s demonstration of skills rather than doing actual labor.

Just as you are interviewing candidates, so too are your candidates interviewing you. For them to make the big life decision of starting a new job, they want to ensure the work setting lines up with their vision and ideals. Consider putting together a quick one-pager on your office vibes and culture. List a few employees from outside the interview team that a candidate can speak to and learn the inside scoop (and make sure that they know that they’re being tapped). Be prepared to answer culture questions during the interview, and have ready a few examples of moments that highlight your unique environment. Peter Drucker, the renowned management consultant, said “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What does that mean for us when we’re trying to help candidates get to know our organizations? How do we highlight the real parts of our organizational culture and make our workplace shine?

A few suggestions to share about your unique organizational culture:

How do you celebrate? How do you celebrate your employees? What was the last thing that was celebrated? This question provides great richness in Jewish settings. What do Jewish holidays look like in your workplace? Or when a member of your team experiences a Jewish lifecycle event? Prospective employees can learn a great deal from the ways in which workplaces honor and care for their employees by lifting up celebration or support when the timing is right. And if you only end up speaking about workplace wins, goals met, outcomes achieved, this indicates that you’re not celebrating your employees, which sends a powerful message to job-seekers.

How do you help people learn and grow? Like the above question, this tells a prospective employee a great deal about how you invest in them and in your team members. Again, if you only talk about the evaluation and performance management system or the regular cycle of 360 evaluations, you’re not describing the fullest possible picture of investment in the personal growth of your team. Think about how much time is devoted to learning–reading articles or books together to develop a shared language for thinking and acting, mentoring one another in peer relationships or accessing external resources for coaching. All of this may indicate to a prospective employee that you’re deeply invested in supporting learning, no matter how much time it takes. “The work” is not just the bottom line, but what we learn together that helps us to get there.

What are some of the unwritten rules of your workplace? We never write these down, but it’s important to be able to answer this for a candidate. Is this an office where the doors open at 9 am but no one schedules a meeting until 10 am? Is this an office where everyone brings their own lunch and eats it together once a week on Fridays, even over Zoom? Is this a workplace where you’re expected to give publicly to the local Federation that supports your work, via your team, on Super Sunday? Be ready to think about how you might respond in a way that embraces transparency, that allows you to poke some fun at your colleagues in a gentle way, but that makes your organizational culture clear and visible (and honorable, too) to your candidates.

What are the other questions you'd like to ask? What are the other questions you'd like answers to? What do you think people might want to know about your workplace?

bottom of page