Finding, attracting and ultimately hiring the best candidates can be a competitive affair. To succeed, not only should the jobs being posted be well written and optimised but special care should be taken when deciding how to engage with candidates that apply. Hiring successfully can be an iterative process but there are some best practices that can provide benefits going forward.
Candidates that have a great experience will have a positive impression of the company’s brand. They will also be more likely to recommend any open positions to their network, respond more positively if they did not succeed in their application or reapply for other available positions.
In most cases, your opportunity to start directly influencing the candidate’s experience will begin once their application has been received. Prior to this, their impression of the company will largely be formed by the brand, the job description as well as the application process itself.
As part of our basic features, candidates are automatically sent a confirmation email containing the details of their application by default. While this helps to ensure that candidates are aware that they applied successfully, it also represents a great opportunity to engage with them.
A good place to start would be to send a welcome email acknowledging that their application has been received. This email should also contain an outline of the next steps in the hiring process as well as convey any important information candidates will need to be aware of so they can prepare accordingly.
For example, if the interview process contains a video component (for example a video interview), candidates should be informed beforehand so that they can ensure that they will have access to the relevant equipment in advance. Here’s a short example:
Thank you for taking the time to submit your application for the role of [Job]. Over the next few days, we’ll be reviewing your submission and give you a brief update on how things are progressing. If we think you’re a good fit, you may also be invited to complete an initial video interview.
Its objective is to gauge your skills, and give us an idea of how you approach tasks relevant to the job and provide us with some talking points. We would appreciate it if you could ensure that you have access to a video-capable device so that there aren’t any delays.
Be consistent throughout the process. Set expectations accordingly by being honest and clear, and avoid promises or commitments that cannot be kept. In the example above, make sure to follow up with the candidate after a few days as indicated in the message.
You can also create and use email templates with placeholder information that will automatically be substituted with details like the candidate’s name. This simplifies the process, and adds consistency. Add or edit placeholders via the [+] icon in the email menu bar:
- Engage with candidates early, as soon as they’ve applied
- Explain the process and set expectations appropriately
- Create and use templates speed through initial or introductory communications
Did you know?
Some emails can be automated through our integration with Zapier. This will allow you to automatically send emails to candidate after they’ve applied, progressed to a certain stage in the pipeline or even if they’ve been disqualified.
Interviews and assessments
During the interview process itself, treat the event like a two-way conversation rather than make the candidate ‘sell’ themselves. If a schedule has been communicated beforehand, build in a little extra time before, during and after the event. In addition to not making the candidate feel rushed, this can also be used to compile proper notes about how the interview went. Take the time to build rapport, as the candidate should be made to feel like they are the most important part of that conversation (which they are), rather than a number.
Ask the right questions to assess the candidate’s suitability for the role being offered. These should be tied directly to the job’s requirements. For example, the questions below would be useful for a Project Management role:
- Have you ever missed a deadline? What happened? What would you do different next time?
- How do you prioritize work when there are multiple projects going on at the same time?
- Give me an example of a time you made a process more efficient. How did you do it?
Give each candidate a level playing field by asking them all the same set of main questions and establishing a system for evaluation responses that is specific to the job. Use the Interview Kit or Scorecard function to maintain consistency throughout the interview and assessment stages. Our Resources page also has a number of interview question templates that can help you get started.
As before, communication is key to maintaining a positive experience regardless of how the event went. Sending a follow up email thanking the candidate for their time and asking for feedback can make them feel like a valued participant in the process.
- Schedule adequate time during interviews so all parties don’t have to rush
- Focus on the candidate and allow them to put their best foot forward
- Ask relevant questions that directly relate to the role being offered
- Use interview its and templates to consistently screen candidates
- Send a follow up email, and solicit feedback on the interview process
To maintain a positive candidate experience, they should never be left hanging without a clear understanding of where they stand in the recruitment process. This begins immediately after their application through to onboarding after they’ve been hired. It’s always good to over communicate.
For example, candidates are less likely to feel like they’re left out during periods of radio silence if they’ve already been made aware that the selection process can take weeks to complete. This also reduces the chance that they will attempt to follow up directly at inappropriate times or lose interest altogether.
As a general rule, reach out to candidates:
- After they’ve applied
- After an interview
- When they’re about to progress to the next stage of the process
- If they’ve been disqualified and will not be proceeding further
- If delays are to be expected
At each point, explain the next steps if applicable and let them know when they can expect to hear back. Set up templates you can use for every major milestone to keep the candidates updated without having to write each message from scratch. This puts candidates at ease, and frees you to take any necessary actions without being bogged down with ad hoc responses or emails by the candidates seeking an update.
Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate and consider which parts of the process you would most appreciate hearing from a potential employer. How long would you be willing to wait for a given role before you would take your valuable skills, knowledge and experience elsewhere?
Did you know?
You can snooze candidates and set a reminder message to display when a candidate is due to wake up. This is perfect for scheduling follow ups.
Qualified candidates that reach the offer stage in your hiring pipeline deserve particular attention. They’ve been screened, interviewed and assessed so the aim at this stage should be to hire them as soon as possible. After all, if you’ve found them to be a great fit for the role, chances are that other employers feel the same way. Additionally, candidates that have progressed this far are more eager to proceed and put an end to their search.
Act quickly. Even if your offer process involves lengthy approvals before a letter can be sent out and signed, communicating the offer over the phone and receiving a verbal acceptance can make a difference. In Workable, you can quickly set a workflow that will automatically notify specific users or user groups that an offer requires approval.
As before, always outline the timeframe of the process and manage the candidate’s expectations clearly so that there are no confusions as to when their employment is official.
Prepare to negotiate, especially with highly skilled candidates in hard-to-fill roles. At this stage, counter-offers can be expected especially if the candidate is currently employed. When navigating through a counter-offer, consider whether the terms can be realistically matched or exceeded. There may also be benefits that were overlooked previously that can be highlighted now.
Set a timeframe that both parties can stick to, whether this involves committing to sending the offer letter by an agreed date or an expiry date for the candidate to accept the offer itself. Make it clear that you expect to complete the entire process by a certain date. Unnecessary delays can be mitigated beforehand by having an offer template ready to send to a successful candidate. This will signal that you are serious about having them on board and are prepared to move swiftly.
- Don't delay
- Prepare for a negotiation and have a range of alternatives
- Set a timeframe to complete the process
In communication with candidates, personalise your messages for the person you are in contact with. Refer to their work experience, skills or other attributes that are relevant to the job especially if they seem promising. At minimum, be sure to address candidates by name. It goes a long way to making them feel like they are getting individual attention.
Take the time to create well-crafted email templates that reads as though you are addressing the candidate directly. Using them early and often in the hiring process can help speed up initial screening, freeing up more time to spend writing actual candidate-specific emails later on.
Did you know?
Our Resources page has a number of examples and templates you can use directly or refer to as a guide when crafting a variety of different email types.
Closing the loop
When it comes to creating and maintaining a positive candidate experience, communication is a key factor throughout the hiring process. The act of managing a candidate’s expectations may not sound particularly important but it can have long-term effects on your hiring success. Much like a customer, studies show that candidates with a bad experience of the hiring process are nearly 50% more likely to share this with their peers. Furthermore, the rise of websites like Glassdoor can further amplify the effects of good and bad feedback.
Close the loop by responding appropriately to candidate concerns and feedback. This represents a great opportunity to obtain actionable insights that can be used to drive the hiring process forward. Personalise your responses whenever possible. Having the same canned sentences can do more harm than good, even if you respond diligently.
For unsuccessful candidates, thank them sincerely for their time. If you plan on keeping their details on file, let them know and touch base every so often. Successful candidates should be made aware of any next steps, key dates and milestones as well be provided with an overview of the onboarding process that follows.