Guest comment: Top candidate turn-offs

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Rory Ferguson, director at search firm JM, says it doesn't take much for people applying for financial services jobs to take their talents elsewhere.

The financial services hiring market now has so much momentum that most of the candidates we see have two or even three job opportunities in the pipeline, often at offer stage.

The range of choice constitutes an additional variable in the recruitment process, requiring both respect and meticulous handling. Interviews are no longer just about quizzing the job seeker - they also provide a platform to 'sell' the company and the role on offer. The perception a candidate comes away with is critical to their decision on any subsequent offer.

In today's market, it is therefore frequently the banks which are in the shop window rather than the candidates. In most cases, candidates aren't disappointed. But we've heard of instances over the last 12 months where the view through the glass wasn't entirely alluring.

What were the problems? Well...here are the top five:

1) Bad first impression: Candidates have been left waiting in reception with no explanation. Interview rooms have been unavailable or untidy - one candidate told us that he had once been kept waiting for 45 minutes and was then interviewed in the canteen. Not a great advert.

2) The interviewer: Interviewers have occasionally come across as bored, unprepared, or distracted. Blackberries should be avoided during the interview procedure! Arrogance doesn't sell.

3) Mixed messages: Candidates are not always interviewed against the original specification. We recently had a business analyst requested for interview for a role in equities and the interviewer quizzed him on his knowledge of fixed income.

4) A one-way street: Banks who don't give candidates the opportunity to ask questions or challenge the statements they've made about their business don't do well in the current market. It's all about reciprocity.

5) The process: Delays in feedback, lack of clear communication, or a lack of decisive direction and wavering over whether to make an offer or not all play badly in the current market. We placed a candidate recently who had been waiting for three weeks for a written offer elsewhere. Even when it did materialise, his view of that bank was so tarnished that he committed himself to our client.

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