Excuse me a little self indulgence, but my wife is currently job hunting. After three years of being self-employed successfully making and selling her own jewellery followed by a couple of years doing part time voluntary work, she is looking for paid part-time employment again.
Last week she saw a shop assistant role advertised with a local outlet of very well known national chain of stores whose CEO has a high profile and is known for his philanthropy (no, it’s not the Mad Butcher!). Look closely – there is a clue.
She applied online as requested and received a very prompt response from the company “Recruitment Team” (no name was given, no personalisation) saying that she was going to the next stage of the recruitment process which involved an online test. A link was supplied.
I have talked in the past about testing and how this should be done and in what circumstances. Once upon a time companies like SHL had, and strictly imposed, very high standards on test administrators (I know, I did all their training way back when and it took weeks).
This particular test was an SHL-hosted test. She was told it was an assessment of her sales and customer service qualities, and was about further assessing her suitability for the role. She was nervous. She’s never had to do one of these before. But of course like most job applicants she did as instructed. Recruitment Team simply told her to make sure she was uninterrupted because clearly they wanted her to perform at her best and had only her best interests at heart.
She took the test. She told me she had been very honest “and they probably won’t like that.” I reassured her that personality based tests like this are designed to identify inconsistent and dishonest answers and that she had nothing to worry about. Someone would discuss the results with her and they would have a conversation about her suitability for the role.
Two days later she heard back from Recruitment Team (still no name) with what was clearly an automated response (there was no punctuation, spacing all over the place, again no contact details and it was sent on a Saturday) telling her that unfortunately she had not met their (unidentified) “very firm benchmarks in place for our criteria.”
She was gutted. So I told her to ask for feedback from her friend Recruitment Team about what the benchmarks were that she had apparently not met so she could learn from this in her future job applications. They hadn’t offered any feedback of course but I assured her she was entitled to know.
Recruitment Team was very prompt again to give him/her their due credit, but still no name and still no real explanation. Without answering the questions they attached a copy of her personal “development report” provided by the third party provider. This was the standard computer generated personality profile.
When I read it I can see why my wife did not get an interview. What I can’t see is any passing resemblance to the woman I have been married to for 25 years! The report is divided into three sections and provides feedback on her sales drive, customer focus and sales focus. I have always been of the view a profile report is the start of the conversation NOT the ultimate truth. Anyone with a knowledge of these tests will tell you that. Some of her “developmental feedback points” included nuggets like:
- Dress appropriately and in accordance with company policy
- Do not complain in front of customers
- Respond with warmth and willingness to all customers
- Make eye contact
- Give customers your full attention
And there were many more equally cutting and inappropriate comments about someone nobody at the company or test provider had spoken to or met. But clearly candidate care doesn’t extend to those rejected by a computer-generated report.
At no stage has anyone from the company spoken to her as part of the process or offered to speak to her about her test results. I find this staggering given the tone of the report. If they are relying on this to recruit sales assistant staff into their stores it’s a wonder they manage to recruit anyone. Oh, and in none of the entirely online communications has she EVER been provided with a name or a contact number or personal email address at the company.
It doesn’t get any more impersonal than that! Ironically their stores are currently emblazened with the legend “we’re for love.”
Their company careers website is another exercise in faceless facile futility. The careers page says they are about “using the human touch and dedication to our craft” but again there are no names or faces of Recruitment Team to welcome you and no real information.
So excuse me a little message to whoever owns/leads the HR/recruitment strategy at this company. If you were working for me your days would be numbered. Is that really the best you can do?
Would you treat your customers like this? No, of course not. But don’t you realize that most if not all of these faceless applicants ARE your customers. If you can’t make the link between your sales and employment brands you are missing the most fundamental point. Ask yourself what “experience” has she and countless others had of your company? Put yourself in their shoes. Own the experience. Good recruiters and HR professionals do that. They don’t hide behind anonymity.
If your recruitment strategy consists of nothing more than sticking an ad on Seek you get what you deserve. Sadly, many companies with strong brands fall into this trap. There is no shortage of talent for roles like this one in New Zealand. What there is perhaps is a real shortage of recruitment and HR talent who can actually identify it.