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5 Tips for a Great Candidate Experience to Attract and Hire Top Talent

Candidate experience in the recruitment process is critical! Why? Because just as you, as a recruiter, judge a candidate from every interaction you have with them to decide if they are a good fit, candidates are doing the same. And not to mention, in today’s (over) sharing social age people will share their experiences and opinions on Glassdoor – the last thing you want is negative reviews. Your employer brand is key to attracting and hiring top talent!

Here are 5 ways to ensure you provide the best possible candidate experience during the application and interview process to maintain a great employer brand, to ultimately attract and hire top talent:

1. Communicate, don’t leave people in limbo: This is a no-brainer! In an ideal world, applicants would even get some sort of communication that they are not moving forward in the process past the resume/cover letter submission. However, there is no excuse for not following up with a candidate throughout the interview process. It is critical to keep candidates up to date on their status! Even if there aren’t any updates to give and a week has gone by, reach out and let them know they are still in the mix. Not providing any communication is a sure-fire way to lose a candidate in the process. If a candidate is no longer being considered, tell them, and even better – tell them why! We have all been job seeking candidates at one point in our lives, think about yourself and how you would want to know where you stand and if you are no longer being considered, knowing why you didn’t get the job. People want feedback! Make people feel human! Managing expectations is the name of the game.

2. Have a simple application process: Make it so easy for candidates to apply to your job postings. If you make it too hard, you may be missing out on top talent. There is the (outdated) school of thought that if a candidate really wants the job they will jump through hoops; however, top companies to work for are doing away with this, stay competitive and don’t put up an iron wall just to send a resume/cover letter. Greenhouse gives great advice about this and uses Snapchat as an example of a company that keeps it simple in the application stage. For highly skilled jobs, it makes sense to have additional steps or exercises, but to increase your chances of even getting the opportunity to see top talent profiles, that first step should be a door with a doorman greeting you, not a barbed wire fence where candidates debate jumping over or not.

3. Be prepared for your interviews: Just as it is expected that candidates do their research and are fully prepared for their interviews, interviewers at companies should be just as prepared. When interviewing a candidate you are super excited about, check out their LinkedIn profile, go through their resume and cover letters – this shows your genuine interest in them. I’m sure you have found it exciting when an interviewee references a publication of yours listed on your LinkedIn profile, or if they went even deeper and mentioned their interest in a specific project you completed at the company. Candidates love to made to feel important as well. Of course, there is a balance, but when preparing to interview a candidate do your research, excite and delight top candidates, personalize it – it may be the differentiating factor when a candidate is deciding between two competitive offers. Also, doing your research will make it easy to jump right into conversation and not waste time getting your bearings on their career history, which leads into my next tip.

4. Stick to the schedule and be on time: Candidates are expected to be on time or 5-10 minutes early to their interviews, the same should be expected from the interviewee. Enough of this I’m too busy and important, candidates have lives too and making a candidate wait more than 5-10 minutes without any prior warning is disrespectful. Sure things come up and with notice, no problem, but making a candidate wait without any update is not how anyone wants to be treated, not to mention you will completely stress out the candidates who are currently working who need to get back to their job! Tardiness or the need to reschedule an interview multiple times is a huge red flag to candidates. Candidates can interpret this to mean that their potential new boss can’t manage their time, or doesn’t have the time to dedicate to them, which is never ideal.

5. Give a respectable amount of time: In addition to being on time, give every candidate the time they deserve. Of course, there will be candidates you will want to spend more time with than others, but it’s important to give each candidate a respectable amount of time in an in-person interview. Spending any less than 15 minutes for an in-person interview provides a bad experience for the candidate especially after the amount of time a candidate has prepared, spent time and money commuting, and rearranging their work schedule. 

We have all been on the other side of the table at some point in our lives, if not multiple times, so treat candidates the way you wanted to be treated as a job-seeking candidate. Remember how hard it can be to take time out of work to go interview, to go over the top to prepare and impress, and to not know where you stand in the process of your dream job. Keep this in mind when you are going through the recruitment process with every candidate: effectively communicate, keep the application process simple, prepare for the interview, be on time for the interview, and give your time in the interview to ensure you provide the best possible candidate experience and maintain a great employer brand.

We have all been on the other side of the table at some point in our lives, if not multiple times, so treat candidates the way you wanted to be treated as a job-seeking candidate. Remember how hard it can be to take time out of work to go interview, to go over the top to prepare and impress, and to not know where you stand in the process of your dream job. Keep this in mind when you are going through the recruitment process with every candidate: effectively communicate, keep the application process simple, prepare for the interview, be on time for the interview, and give your time in the interview to ensure you provide the best possible candidate experience and maintain a great employer brand.

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