When this company rejects a candidate, it sends them an Amazon gift card. This is a lesson for every business

A promising young graduate just went through three grueling rounds of interviews for a job she’s been dying to get. Every day, she checks her inbox with anxious anticipation, hoping the company will land on her the next time she’s hired.

One day, his glowing optimism turns to crushing disappointment. After being ghosted for weeks, she calls the company out of frustration, only to find the position she applied for has been filled days after completing the interview process.

There are a variety of reasons a company may ghost a candidate they don’t hire, ranging from overwhelmed hiring managers, to the desire for a clean break, to legal fears i.e. letters badly written refusals that lead to prosecution.

In a historically tight labor market, many companies are scrambling to find new ways of doing things.

Recently I heard about a great strategy that is worth “stealing”. Like many companies, Grovider, a small management consulting firm in Philadelphia, has three rounds of interviews. But once a candidate is selected, Grovider sends everyone who has completed the process an email notifying them that the position has been filled.

Then, to temper the disappointment, the company offers candidates who have completed the process but does not have land the job with a $25 Amazon gift card, along with the following note:

Thank you for taking the time to apply for this position. As a thank you, we would like to give you this small gift. We only wish you the best in your future endeavours.

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But wait. Let’s be realistic. Does a $25 Amazon card really make up for the wasted time and disappointment of not getting the job?

On the surface, you might not think so. But Grovider says they regularly receive responses from non-recruits thanking them for their attention and sincere interest, confirming that they have never received a gift card from a potential employer.

So why is Grovider doing it?

“People spend time in the interview process and it costs them time,” Grovider co-founder Candace Kenyatta told me. “They bear the costs of finding time for multiple interviews, of doing drills, of stressing over what might be asked of them. We want to acknowledge that reality and say thank you to those who invest their time in us.”

“We don’t have enough money as a small company to do it on a large scale, but I think the amount is less important than the recognition.”

But there is also more to this story.

In October 2016, Kenyatta’s husband and co-founder of Grovider, Everett Kenyatta, lost his mother after a long battle with leukemia. At the time, Everett was his mother’s primary caretaker while building her department as the director of an IT company. The couple were also caring for a newborn son.

“I needed time to take care of my family and, ultimately, myself,” Everett told me. “My employer talked about working with me, but in the end, they didn’t. In November 2016, a month after my mother passed away, my job was terminated. I applied for over 100 jobs in the over the next two months. In parallel, I worked on the business plan for what is now Grovider.”

The act of looking for a job is a grueling full-time undertaking,” Everett says. “Our decision to thank those who take the time to go through the whole process with us is based on our understanding of the trying nature of the process and a recognition of the humanity of those who undertake it.”

It turns out that substantially thanking prospects also engenders long-term goodwill and differentiates Grovider as an employer. For example, in 2021, Grovider hired a key candidate who originally applied for a position in 2019.

And yes, this contestant was a former recipient of Amazon gift cards.

The lesson for businesses around the world

Many employers today view the hiring process as having one goal: finding the right candidate for a unique position. Because of this concentration, hiring managers can easily lose sight of the human side of what each candidate goes through during the interview process. But in addition to treating interview candidates as the right thing to do, it also presents companies with a great opportunity.

A $25 gift card is a relatively low business cost, but it’s a card that can pay big dividends by fostering goodwill in your business. By leaving candidates with a sweet taste in their mouths, you not only send the message that your company is the one the candidate should want to work with (now or in the future), but you turn those candidates into advocates, dramatically increasing the odds. that they:

  • Spread the word about your hiring process, increasing the pool of candidates for future positions
  • Come back to apply again, for another position that may be more suitable
  • Provide you with future business, either by becoming a client or customer themselves, or by directing their future businesses, business partners or other members of their network to reach out

All of this just helps your business play the long game.

Remember that people do business with people, not companies. So, in a world of communication ruled by ghosting, automated messaging, and legal language, don’t view the post-interview process as a nuisance. See it as an opportunity.

“Our brand isn’t just about our customers, it’s about everyone we engage with,” says Candace Kenyatta. “We want the experience with Grovider to be meaningful no matter why someone engages with us.”

And that’s what I call good business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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