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Note 'golden rule' in dealing with applicants

Published on Friday, 09 Sep 2011

Think you can afford to brush off an eager job applicant? Think again.

A global report and survey by Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) has revealed that certain professionals may be less inclined to do business with companies with which they have had negative interview experiences.

Close to half of the 195 survey respondents from Greater China fell into this category, with just 11.2 per cent saying that their subsequent purchasing decisions would not be impacted by such experiences.

Relative to their counterparts in the West, professionals in Asia were also found to be more sensitive to communications prior to the interview itself. According to the head of brand and insight at AMS, Simon Thomas, the reasons for this largely boil down to differences in cultural norms and job-seeker expectations.

"My personal view is that professionals in the UK and US have gotten used to a poor candidate experience," he says. "I think that job seekers in China probably have higher expectations of the whole process.

"Also, the job market in China usually involves a lot more [pre-interview] networking," he adds. "It's this initial level of contact that tends to set the tone for the relationship."

However, despite the variance, Thomas says companies here still have some catching up to do. "The whole sense of approaching an employer brand in the same way as a consumer brand - building it, managing it, protecting it, enhancing it - is probably better understood in the West."

While a number of Hong Kong employers already place a strong emphasis on human resources branding, the AMS report indicates that such activities may soon become standard practice given the ongoing talent crunch.

Meanwhile, the rise of social media has put even greater pressure on firms to monitor their interactions with applicants, with many candidates documenting their experiences on the web.

"The important thing to note here is that negative experiences are much more likely to be commented on, and tend to travel much further through social networks," Thomas says.

The values you project, he says - be it through job advertisements, social media, or conferences and seminars - have to remain true throughout the hiring process. This includes everything from supplying the necessary information for candidates to succeed, providing feedback when they don't, and ensuring interviewers are well prepared and can demonstrate company values.

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