The business tycoon Warren Buffett once remarked: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”.

This sage advice is something more employers could bear in mind when it comes to their recruitment processes.

The need to demonstrate best practices is even more important in niche sectors such as the renewable energy industry.

Word spreads quickly – either on the grapevine or, increasingly, via social media – if an employer gets a reputation for a lack of professionalism or common courtesy in its recruitment methods that could cost you very dearly in the future.

While there are a number of organisations in our sector which do get it right, there are still too many examples where businesses get it wrong. And it wouldn’t take much to put it right either.

There are still too many stories of employers lacking engagement in the recruitment process and lacking professionalism. All candidates deserve to be treated with respect, irrespective of whether they are actually right for the role or not. If you as a company have invited them to an interview, they deserve at the very least common courtesy and some feedback.

Clearly it is best to work with a credible and reputable search firm such as ourselves, or have your HR team ensure the process is good. Many HR departments are superb at this, many aren’t. The goal should be that anyone that engages with your company for an interview is left feeling gutted they didn’t get the job, not relieved they made a lucky escape!

Many fail at even the basics. Candidates should never be left waiting around in reception without an explanation as to why things are running late; the interviewer should treat the candidate warmly even if it quickly becomes apparent that they are not suitable for the position; and candidates should always be given feedback and, ideally, as quickly as possible after the interview process.

As an employer you should remember that candidates will have given up time to apply for a role with them and to take time out – at their own expense – to attend interviews.

While a candidate may not be suitable for the role you are trying to fill, it does not mean that they or one of their colleagues or friends won’t be suitable for the next position you need to fill. But if they have had a bad experience on the first occasion, they are unlikely to come back a second time – or recommend you to as an employer to someone else they know, who could just be the perfect candidate.

How an employer communicates is crucial to every stage of the recruitment process – from the first contact to arrange a meeting through to any decision to accept or decline a candidate’s application.

This is often about internal communication within an organisation – particularly if multiple candidates or positions are involved – as much as external communication with candidates.

It costs nothing to be polite and courteous, but it can be incredibly costly to an organisation’s reputation if you get a reputation for being a bad employer, particularly in a specialist sector where news and information – good and bad – travels so quickly.