Three Ways Hiring Managers Can Rethink the Candidate Experience

When in the throes of filling an open position, hiring managers are often focused on candidates, resumes, job requirements and cultural fit. The experience can be very jargon-filled and process-driven, and given the competition for candidates, that’s not surprising. But it’s crucial to take a breath and remember that building relationships is the foundation of the hiring process. As important as resumes, job requirements and everything else is, making the right hire is about getting personal with the candidate. That’s why the “candidate experience” is so important. Just like customers, candidates form an impression from the very first time they encounter your company. It doesn’t matter whether that’s through your website, a job posting, the receptionist at your office, the HR specialist or the hiring manager. Every interaction they have – in person, on the phone, electronic – helps paint a picture of your company and a feeling about wanting to work there.

With that in mind, here are three ways to make the candidate experience positive from the time you receive their resume through to the offer.

1. Acknowledge your candidates.

From the very beginning, be aware of how candidates might react to your actions – or inactions. How you respond to a resume, for example, can set the tone for your entire relationship.

We’ve yet to meet the candidate who doesn’t complain about the “black hole” at many companies, where resumes and job applications disappear. They submit their qualifications in answer to the employer’s stated needs and hear nothing in response. When that’s the common practice, even a simple acknowledgment can set your organization apart in a positive way. Just by communicating something as simple as, “we received your resume and are reviewing it,” you position yourself as the kind of organization people want to work for.

2. Show them respect.

It’s not only about first impressions. Stay in touch with candidates at each step of the process, even with quick updates to say you’re still interviewing others and have yet to make a decision. Keeping communication open pays off if they’re also meeting with other companies – you don’t want them to think you’ve moved on and just haven’t bothered to tell them. Acknowledging they are still a contender shows you respect their time and the effort they’ve put into the interview process.

Even delivering bad news demonstrates respect and courtesy that candidates appreciate and remember. That can prove valuable down the road when you’re recruiting to meet new challenges and have a reserve of goodwill among professionals who are qualified to provide a solution. Time and again, we hear candidates say they’d rather hear bad news than no news at all.

3. Don’t drop the ball.

Even after you make an offer that has been accepted, don’t let your attention waver. Stay in touch right up until the moment the candidate becomes a full-fledged employee. Before the start date, provide background materials about the company and the job. Send emails internally to introduce the team. Take every opportunity to reinforce your soon-to-be colleague’s decision and make them feel welcome even before they walk in on day one. Validate their decision for accepting your offer! Not a small thing in a competitive employment market.

“Candidate experience” isn’t just a phrase. It describes the way you go about building relationships with the people to help your business prosper. From the time you sketch out a job description to the moment your new employee begins work, consider how candidates will respond to what you say and do.

Everyone is a potential candidate. Stories about your approach will circulate and may provide the first experience promising talent has with your company. You want it to be a good one.

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