Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Would You Pay Applicants to Interview? Not I.

When I hire new employees I look for people who are excited about the opportunity and not just in it for the money. This has served me pretty well throughout my years as a business professional, entrepreneur, recruiter, and HR Staffing Manager.

Which makes me really scratch my head in wonder about the new employment website that requires companies to pay applicants simply for the benefit of interviewing them. Applicants set a price for how much the company must pay them which appears to range from a couple hundred dollars to close to $1000.

The pitch is that passive job seekers will come out of the woodwork if you show them the money. Not just show them the money but deposit it in their bank accounts after the interviews as well - regardless of whether or not you hire them. The idea is that once this "outstanding" applicant interviews, of course, they will be so excited about your opportunity....well, you know how the rest is supposed to play out.

The financial justification that they are hoping to persuade hiring managers of is that since companies pay more in recruiting fees, then why not pay the applicants instead?

This whole concept is just wrong on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin.

  • After the initial burst of PR wears off, this job board will have the same candidates that are applying through every other job site.
  • Do you really want to hire someone who is interviewing so they can make a few extra dollars?
  • A company using this service is potentially putting out the message that we are such a bad place to work that we have to pay people just to interview. Not exactly an "employer of choice" message.
  • This sets the applicant up as being in control in any/all negotiations. The company in effect is saying that they need the applicant more than the applicant needs the company. Not a good position for negotiations.
  • The comparison between paying recruiter fees (which are paid to experts and on a contingent basis) and paying applicants to interview is comparing apples to oranges. The only thing similar between the two is the end goal. Therefore it's unlikely that HR departments would ever see this as a valid replacement to justify the expense.
When I think about all the applicants that I have interviewed throughout my career, the idea of me paying them is...well... just plain silly. Now the other way around...

So, at the risk of pulling a Ken Olsen, the then CEO of Digital Equipment who in 1977 predicted that no one would ever want a computer on their desk, I really can't imagine this becoming a successful new HR paradigm. Email me at bncarvin-at-nobscot-dot-com if you agree or disagree.

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