Listen to the Do Your Homework episode at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts.
The Candidate Experience Podcast is hosted by Chuck Solomon. A transcription of this interview is available below.
Together with his guests, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies strengthen their candidate experience to ultimately improve their employer brand and help job candidates navigate the hiring journey.
Pay close attention to the tips she offers to both companies that are hiring as well as job candidates on improving the hiring journey.
If you like what you hear on this podcast please subscribe and share with others. Want to comment, discuss, provide feedback you can send me a note via LI, or via the contact form on our site www.The CX.xyz. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview…
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Nina, how did you get into recruiting?
Nina Merklina 0:03
Ah, that’s an interesting story to share. Well, I am from Moscow and which you may have noticed from my accent. Sure. So I’m already a naturalized US Citizen. Leave here with my family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
I got into recruiting by accident, pretty much like every single recruiter out there. straight after my software selling experience was kind of interesting. And my former boss invited me to join an executive switch companies so um, that’s how I ended up there.After working there for many years, I started my own recruiting agency, which would grew pretty quickly. And then I had moved to us and that’s pretty much the whole story. Oh, I’m looking back and it makes me feel old because I did start, I did start my recruiting career and 90s. So late 90s.
Chuck Solomon 1:06
So before there was LinkedIn!
Nina Merklina 1:09
Yeah, I am probably interviewed about, I don’t know, 1000 over 1000 people over over lifetime. And I’ve read countless resumes. So I don’t even I’m afraid even to think about the number. hundred thousand. I didn’t know a lot. That’s it. That’s a pretty big number. So what do you do now? Wow, I run a company that dedicated to help hiring managers build their teams and hire more efficiently. So we call it glamour.
Chuck Solomon 1:45
So just so everyone knows, Nina is is my boss. She’s the CEO of LineHire and was was and still is a big supporter of mine in starting this podcast, So thank you for thank you for your support.
Nina Merklina 2:03
Thank you, Chuck, I think your podcast idea was brilliant. I like listening to interviews. You know, I often learn from the people you speak to, because sometimes they share some really unique perspectives. And that actually sometimes, you know, results in certain processes that we change, you know, and we can implement and so that we can deliver a better experience to the candidates to the employees to all in both parties.
Chuck Solomon 2:31
Sure, I agree. What would you say is the biggest challenge the companies are facing hiring wise these days?
Nina Merklina 2:41
I would say bandwidth, bandwidth, probably the biggest challenge at the moment about talking about the recruiting efforts in particular, yes, companies just don’t have enough bandwidth. I think that’s one of the main reasons why it leads to negative experience. For candidates, they they all fall into this so called black hole of companies applicant tracking systems ATS. the recruiting process currently takes longer than I do, which isn’t, which is, which amazes me and ultimately impacts the company’s employer brand. And that is not not in the obvious in a bad way. I think that this is something that absolutely has to be changed.
Chuck Solomon 3:28
Yeah, it doesn’t doesn’t sound good.
Nina Merklina 3:30
I honestly think that one of the reasons, the company’s lacking bandwidth, it’s also because they have always don’t want to add extra recruiting headcounts,
Chuck Solomon 3:42
Nina Merklina 3:42
Their recruiting teams. They know that is expensive to hire, recruiting agencies, whether it’s big companies or small freelance recruiting help. The process takes longer as I mentioned already, it’s it’s almost group I think, like Over 50, or I think doubled in length lately, I don’t remember exact number. I think it takes an average about what 40 to 50 days right now to onboard a person on average, but I’m not sure how, how proper the average number is. It’s kind of it could be a little bit of a statistical error there. But that’s what I remembered from when I look at his last.
Chuck Solomon 4:26
Yeah, wow. No one would really expect that with sort of all the advances, like with LinkedIn or Indeed and social media and sort of other HR tech tools and stuff that are now available to companies. I, you know, I would expect that the time to hire would actually be trending downwards and not upward.
Nina Merklina 4:51
You would think that it’s going to get faster, but it’s not.
Chuck Solomon 4:53
Yeah. So why is it that companies aren’t investing more in recruiting?
Nina Merklina 5:00
Well, I think companies sometimes think they do. But I also think that historically, there was a lot of the recruiting I think, is a little bit of a reactive industry. And historically, talent acquisition hiring practices were all seen as like a back office admin function that cost center
Chuck Solomon 5:19
Nina Merklina 5:20
and just a pure expense from majority of companies. Even those who really announced publicly proclaim that staff is our main resource that is strategically advantage, and etc. It’s still recruiting is still seen as a back office admin function. And the To my mind, this is the major strategic mistakes for most of the companies right now. People in the obviously departments understaffed and people overworked candidates don’t hear feedback not because there is a mean recruiter out they just really just doesn’t have enough bandwidth to get in touch with everybody and became impersaonal for the better or for worse.
And I think that the average performance over recruiting departments right now is
I would say extremely, extremely by hindered b Lack of bandwidth.
Chuck Solomon 6:21
Sure. Yeah. So just for the record, and I hear from job seekers all over the country all the time. There are some bad recruiters out there. I just heard this. This awful story. This is actually coming from a candidate there was dealing with a third party recruiting agency and the candidate decided they didn’t want the job. And this was a job with a well known Fortune 500 company. They just decided that they were they were they had other options because candidates have lots of options these days. And they they relate to me
He said, he said for one, the process went way too long. And for two that, it was like the recruiting agency was kind of like keeping them away from the actual hiring manager. And he wanted to talk to the hiring manager, he didn’t really want to talk to the recruiting agency. He wasn’t going to be working with a recruiting agency. And he just decided that he’s going to take another job and and I think he made a wise decision there. But what he said is, once he declined, that the recruiting agency was just really like rude to him and like berating him like saying that, you know, you’re making a big mistake here and stuff. So. So just for the record, there are
there are bad recruiting agencies out there
Nina Merklina 7:50
that had examples, as the barrier of entry into recruiting industry is reasonably reasonably small.
Chuck Solomon 8:02
Nina Merklina 8:02
there is no college degree, right?
Chuck Solomon 8:04
Nina Merklina 8:05
You become a recruiter, as I said before by accident, then whatever practices you learn along the way, those are your practices. And not everyone is lucky to work in good companies like I have.
Chuck Solomon 8:16
Yeah, I agree. So going back to the companies for a second, and it seems really short sighted for the companies that, you know, as you mentioned, you know, companies tout their, you know, our staffers our most important asset, but then the staff that are actually involved with the hiring, onboarding, and then retention of these people, they’re they’re just overworked, under resourced and stuff. That just seems really short sighted to me.
Nina Merklina 8:46
Well, yeah, I agree completely. I think that companies not really fully realizing that the change is already happening. And the change is happening in the workplace everywhere and the way how can
This fine new jobs and it’s not even the I’m not even talking about the internet as a way of communication or delivering your resume, right? We don’t need any more to fax it or send it by mail. Right.
Chuck Solomon 9:13
Nina Merklina 9:14
But the whole process is how to acquire talent is evolving clue. So, um, someone just needs obviously it happens faster than another is some some interesting there’s still, you know, stuck in the dark ages, but the change is happening everywhere and it will impact all industries so hundred percent of them.
Chuck Solomon 9:33
Nina Merklina 9:34
yeah. So um, so that’s that I also think that a lot of practices you know, I mentioned before recruiting industry somewhat very conservative,
Chuck Solomon 9:42
Nina Merklina 9:42
and rightfully so, because recruiting essentially deals with people’s lives, right, with careers with a with a lot of a lot is on the line. So some level of conservative approaches is actual justified but the many processes, you know and approaches how we deal with this process is completely outdated. For example, you know, back when I started identifying candidate was a very expensive long process. Right now identifying a candidate takes literally seconds ever since the our Rolodex has hit the cloud. Thank you LinkedIn by the way.
It takes literally seconds to identify a person.
Chuck Solomon 10:30
Do you think it’s any easier today to go ahead and convince them to take a new job?
Nina Merklina 10:36
I don’t think so. As you know, what I see I mentioned before, I know I can quickly identify a possible candidate for a job but it’s not that easy to get in touch with that person. The abundance of communication and the abundance of various channels of communication led to the to the kind of a counter reaction from people with filter all incoming information. And actually human contact that quality conversation became a rarity. It’s it’s a, it’s a hard currency right now to actually have a human being talking to you. And, and it’s everything a lot of things could be automated in the recruiting industry. One thing that he cannot automate completely is building relationships. And everything about hiring is about relationship.
Chuck Solomon 11:28
I agree. Building relationships is key with not only those that you hire, but also with those that you don’t hire 100 people apply for a position that one person gets the position and then the 99 other people are, you know, what do you do with the other people? I’m still hearing from job seekers that probably a good 50% of them aren’t even hearing anything. It’s that proverbial Dark Hole
Nina Merklina 12:03
Good news travels fast kind of thing. Right? So it’s like if they like it, you’re going to hear from them soon.
Chuck Solomon 12:10
Yeah, I but I think that you know, how you deal with the other 99 that don’t get the job is, I think is equally as important to how you deal with that one. So, especially for, you know, direct to consumer kind of companies.
Nina Merklina 12:30
those are those are going to have really, really bad taste in their mouth.
Chuck Solomon 12:35
Yeah, I don’t. I think it’s really simple at at the very least, the applicant tracking system can be set up that once the job is closed, that it emails everyone, even if it’s that standard email that says, Hey, sorry, we hired you know, what was someone else thanks for your interest, even if it’s just that I think that’s better than nothing.
Because there’s a lot of candidates that are still just hearing nothing. What I think is a step beyond this is actually, if a candidate has gone, you know, at it through some level of process, either a phone interview or something. And at that point the company decides, yeah, we’re, this is not the person we want to hire. Like, don’t wait. let the person know, email them and say that you can say the same. Same rejection thanks for you know, your interest in our company, but we’re, you know, we’re moving forward with other candidates, like just close the loop and let people know so they can move on.
Better yet, if you can provide some kind of feedback like this is really what we’re looking for. And we didn’t feel like you had that experience.
Nina Merklina 13:48
That is a double edged sword for many companies, unfortunately, and the proper feedback or actually constructive feedback on the rejection is a very, um, I would say diplomatic thing to do.
Chuck Solomon 14:05
Yeah, what I’ve heard because I’ve asked this of hiring companies directly, like, why don’t you offer any feedback? And, and, you know, number one answers there, they’re afraid of being sued. I had I had another company, HR manager, say, you know, that they, the candidate asked for some feedback, constructive feedback. And they did provide some constructive feedback. And the HR manager was yelled at by the person.
It’s, I guess it’s one thing to ask for feedback. It’s a second thing to actually accept what that that feedback is, any other tips that companies without a big budgets a small medium sized business, on what they can do to improve the candidate journey.
Nina Merklina 14:59
I absolutely I think that you have to start with reviewing job description jogger due diligence truly is probably the critical part of succeeding and finding a proper person. Make sure that you do not look for five legged sheep. go into details, look at the market conditions, make sure that your job descriptions and role parameters are relevant not only to your company and to your current needs, but also to the current labor market. So this is a priority, then absolutely Drew, recruiting process so make it so that you can communicate everything to applicants in the proper way.
Often, even though you would think it’s it’s the problem for the small company with no budget, but even large companies with big budgets, Fortune 500 companies, the fail to communicate the hiring process and it’s really
Really, really not good job should know what what’s ahead of them what the hiring journey would would take, how many interviews they will have to have to plan for how who they’re going to talk to names so that they can prepare properly. And surely that should be planned in advance. And it’s actually not that difficult. But make sure that the people that search for your candidates, whether its internal talent acquisition team or external agencies, make sure that they fully understand what are you after, make sure that you briefing early, make sure that you communicate back with all the candidates that you have rejected. I know it doesn’t sound feasible for many companies, but it’s actually is doable if it’s planned. So that’s what I would. So that’s what I would suggest communication. personal communication with the world is the key.
Chuck Solomon 17:01
Any suggestions that you would have for job candidates to perhaps stand out in the interview process?
Nina Merklina 17:14
Absolutely do your homework, priming early, the very do your homework, do your homework. The homework is the difference between landing a job and not research the company information is out in the open. Make sure that you understand everything regardless where they going for junior position or top executive position. Read the latest news, look at the press releases. Look, analyze a little bit in advance. Maybe you can even come with a proposition of sorts during the interview that will that will make you indispensable team member right away. So be prepared. That’s one thing. For Junior people, it’s very important to learn how to present themselves the best and there are plenty of resources out there that can coach and train them. Some of free, some expensive there is a cool variety of possibilities to learn. There are countless videos on YouTube, talking about this totally free of charge.
Speak to recruiters speak to hiring managers ask for feedback, be proactive. It’s It’s all in the end, sometimes luck, but you can increase your odds dramatically if you come prepared. So yeah, things that personal sometimes will check out sometimes it’s pure chance. But it’s the preparation that makes a difference. That’s my my advice to all job, job seekers, and all and another one. Don’t try to go everywhere. Focus your job search. Be sure. Make sure that you don’t spray and pray your resume for every job out there. focused on something that is most likely more feasible in your particular situation, consult with others people like eager to give advice. So consult with others.
Chuck Solomon 19:09
Yeah, I like what you said do your homework might probably say to your kids and mine as well to do your homework to myself a lot.
That’s true. Interesting. I’ve been attending these
Google for Startups, sessions that they’re talking about. They have Google folks that are local to us in North Carolina that are presenting on how you know tips for how startups can hire and I’ve been, I’ve attended two out of the three, I think there’s another one coming up, but they talked about the Google hiring process, which is pretty interesting, but really what they’re looking for in the hiring processes are really like sort of EQ stuff. or soft skills sort of things. And they have a very, very strict matrix that a rubric is what they use to assess people on. And so I, I asked the question I said, so with all these questions, can you Google the answers for Google Interview Questions? And they agreed and said, yes, you certainly can. So, but but they mix it up a lot, too. So it’s not not as easy as googling thing, but it speaks to your do your homework.
Nina Merklina 20:39
Yes, absolutely. You can prepare too many things. Obviously, some candidates take it to completely different level and learn how to absolutely kill an interview. But that’s the sometimes it does not necessarily predict a good performance.
Chuck Solomon 20:58
Nina Merklina 20:58
So that’s kind of a problem. that a lot of companies are working on how to actually predict a possible performance. Yeah, not that simple.
Chuck Solomon 21:08
Yeah, the, you know, I, I say this all the time, the interviewing, which actually Google crunched the numbers on this and the maximum number of interviews, someone should go through his four, and they certainly have the data to back that up. But interviewing does a great job of determining how well someone does in an interview. And that may or may not predict how well someone will actually do in the job. So yeah, I wish there was more progress in because I’ve spoken to a few folks about, like, how do we, you know, how does one go ahead and sort of do like job tryouts and now, which is it’s really it is a difficult thing to do, but do you really want to know how welcome interviews or do you really want something that’s a better predictor of how well they’ll do in the job. So, more to come on that. Nina, thanks for your insights today.
Nina Merklina 22:11
Thank you very much. And you’re very welcome. Chuck. It was a pleasure.
Chuck Solomon 22:16
My pleasure as well. So Nina, how can people get ahold of you if they want to contact you?
Nina Merklina 22:22
Well, that’s easy. reach me via LinkedIn. My name there is Nina Merklina Morrison or via our website LineHire.com I’ll be happy to hear from you.
Chuck Solomon 22:40
Thanks for joining me!