With the unemployment rate at record lows, just finding experienced, above average talent that lives near your office, is available to hire within a few weeks, and is in your salary range for the position, can seem like a daunting task.

Remember, your “top candidate” is often your competitor’s top choice too. We are no longer in an “employer market”, yet many employers are still trying to hire the way they did when there were dozens of good candidates to pick from. A few years ago, it was not uncommon to make candidates wait while everyone on the team sifted through resumes, set up multiple interviews, and eventually narrowed it down to their top choice expecting that the applicant would patiently wait in the wings showing their gratitude for being selected for the coveted role.

It is amazing how many times lately I have heard the same words from many employers I consult with: “I just lost my best candidate, how did this happen?”

My response: You took too much time to make a decision and you didn’t tell your best candidates that you really wanted them on your team. They didn’t feel “loved and cherished”, got tired of waiting, got fed up with hearing excuses about team members being on vacation, or in meetings, or worse, not hearing anything from you at all!

Really good candidates know that they have many choices in this market and they are carefully evaluating whether they want to work for you. Candidates are judging you and your company by your actions during the interview process Every delay, lack of follow up by HR or others on your hiring team, every excuse for why a next meeting can’t be scheduled, and every interview that they feel is a waste of time because of duplicate questions or unprepared interviewers is costing you your best candidates and delaying your ability to fill the role.

Candidates look at your interview process and your follow up after the interview and make assumptions, whether true or not, about how your firm treats its employees and even customers, and if they don’t like what they see, they will move on, delay responding, or worse, use your offer to help them get another job. Then you get the dreaded, “Thanks for your time, I accepted another offer” email and you are left asking yourself: What happened ? We just started talking to her only 2 or 3 weeks ago?”

The “candidate interview experience” is more important now than ever before. Your star applicant is not going to waste time waiting for you to decide if you want to hire them or not. They are not looking for a hasty decision, but they are looking for an intelligent well thought out interview process that allows both parties the opportunity to really get to know one another.

My next posts are going to tackle these employer/applicant “road blocks”. I will discuss many of the interview problems that I am seeing today that are preventing you from hiring your top candidates, and I will also discuss ways that you can improve the candidate interview experience without jeopardizing your ability to fully vet out your top applicants.