5 Ways Candidate Experience Is Like A Failed Jeep Competition

We huddled around my smart phone, waiting for the countdown to win the opportunity to buy a brand new JEEP Cherokee in the “Worlds Most Remote JEEP Dealership” competition for only $10k. Every phone line, Skype account, iPad and mobile phone (6 in total) in the household was ready to dial that number at ‘exactly’ 9:00am when the secret number and dealership location was revealed. Excitement was high. We were certain we were going to be one of the 10 to get through, or at least on the standby list.

The clock counted down, “10, 9, 8, 7….” we all chimed in together. With the anticipation of a Melbourne Cup start, the specially designed app by Jeep showed 00:00:00:00 on the countdown timer, and ‘racing’, we were off. First the app page revealed a compass that pointed in the direction of the ‘remote dealership’. 951 kilometres to Silverton in NSW. Great but where’s the freaking phone number? We searched the menu, and other map page. Nothing. Back to the compass and up in the top, right hand, corner was a tiny phone icon. Like tiny. Great, that was 30 seconds wasted. Madly punching, pressing and typing in the number, we discovered not just one number, but the other app on the iPad, showed a different number? We weren’t getting through! On either number! The message from Optus ‘record-a-lady’ was just ‘This number has been disconnected….’. or else it would ring twice, and then cut off.
“What the…?” my partner cursed. It was fun at first, but excitement quickly turned to frustration after tens of dozens of calls, and then we spiraled into total damnation of the whole Jeep campaign. We felt duped. It didn’t seem fair “Right that’s it”, my partner proclaimed “Jeep is on the banned list” (his ‘banned list’ is extensive) and we aborted our mission.

We went on with our day, not knowing the media fiasco that was brewing around Australia over the alleged failed Jeep competition. Facebook pages threatening class action against Chrystler/Jeep sprung up within hours, and word spread like a fever of accusations of competition numbers being released to some registrants the night before, well before the advertised 9:00am start, and many registrants apps not releasing a number to dial at all. Others, like us, just received a disconnected phone number. Jeep is in hot water with 39,090 of it 49,000 entrants who missed out. The competition attracted over 30,000 calls to grab the chance to buy the brand, new Jeep Cherokee.

So how is candidate experience like a failed Jeep Competition?

When a job post is released every interested candidate feels they have a good cracking chance at the open position, and the emotions are high. Time and effort is expended to ‘enter the competition’ and present their best case.

1. The Job Post or Advertisement Is Hyped Up
Jeep was advertising on every national station and I will give Jeep a bow for it’s unique approach to marketing. It was a good gimmick to attract attention. However the execution totally sucked. Some job advertisements over inflate the product, that is the job. Candidate experience is poor when there is a lot of hype around the job and the company, but the recruitment experience doesn’t stack up to the hype.

2. The Application Process Is Limited Or Cumbersome
The only way you could enter the competition for the Jeep Cherokee was by registering through downloading an app. The app only worked on smart phones, and Nanna, who doesn’t have a mobile phone at all, didn’t have a snowflakes chance. She just recently passed her driving test at 85 years old, and could have celebrated with a new Jeep!
If candidates find the application process too cumbersome or difficult to apply the drop out rate is great. I have heard many a recruitment professional contest that ‘we are only want candidates that are willing to jump the hurdles and go the extra mile’. There are two types of candidates Active and Passive. The active will, the passive have no reason to. It is up to you to create motivation in passive candidates to apply to extend the quality of your candidate pool, so make the experience easy.

3. Poor Information On Role & Company
Firstly in the Jeep competition it was ‘we are not going to tell you the destination of the remote dealership’. Fine. Whether you knew the destination or not, didn’t make a crack in your chances of winning, but we’ll go along with it. Then it was try and figure out when the release day was. Another puzzle. However the main issue with thousands of disgruntled registrants is that they didn’t even get the phone number at all.
Research and study show that candidates, like most buyers, are searching for information about your company that will determine if they want to apply or not. Long gone are the days when an applicant will blindly apply based on a job description or job advertisement alone. If they do, they are mostly the low hanging fruit. Many quality candidates want to understand the company at many differing levels before they will apply, especially passive candidates. If they can’t get what they want, their experience of your recruitment process is unenlightening.

4. Poor Status Update
The most frustrating thing about the Jeep competition was that there was no information provided to competition goers on what the status of their progress in the race was. There was no recorded message to say ‘Thanks for trying, but we have sold the cars’, or ‘You have reached Jeeps Most Remote Dealership competition, keep trying”. It was a black hole of oblivion.
Candidates who don’t get consistent updates on where they are in the process, or any response at all, feel rejected and not in control, whether you intend it or not. Timing is critical for feed back at differing stages of the process. Be proactive and ask candidates that are shortlisted what their preference time frame and method  is for getting feedback on their status and commit to it. The difference to them is huge. It’s tailored and unique. It can also help you sus out if they are considering other offers.

5. Candidates have the power of social media on their side

At the time, in our isolation, we felt what happened didn’t feel right. We weren’t alone. tens of thousands of others felt the same feeling of ‘something isn’t quite right’ about Jeeps execution of their competition. So the disgruntled turned to social media  to gain social proof of others feeling the same way, to therefore confirm the validity of  their sense of justice, of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  Thousands posted their grievances on Jeeps facebook site. Others created anti Jeep sites and encouraged the angry mob to turn to the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competitions Commission) to lodge a complaint. It gained tremendous momentum on social media and media news sites. Jeep went into damage control.

Candidates have access to not only social media sites but other purpose built employer review sites such as Glassdoor, and locally JobAdvisor  to vent and rate their experience of your recruitment process. Candidates who have a sense of injustice or being wronged have the potential to at best, bag you out to their better half, or at worst they can unleash a social media night mare of epic proportions. Just ask Jeep.

I guess the Jeep PR team are now “gonna need a bigger boat” to either hide behind, or sail away on to avoid the backlash of poor competition experience for thousands of potential customers who are the ones feeling ‘sold out‘ now.