If you want to hire the best team for your business, it’s vital to make a good first impression. Especially if you’re competing for top talent in an in-demand marketplace, the hiring process is as much an interview for the company as it is for the candidate. That’s why it’s so important to deliver a great candidate experience.
Hiring is usually a potential employee’s first interaction with your company, and you should make it a positive and rewarding one. Candidates who experience a slow, disorganized, or unclear hiring process may judge that your company may not be the best place to work, after all. With that in mind, below are some ideas for hiring managers on how to create an amazing candidate experience from the first interaction to the final job offer.
Make the job description crystal clear.
No one likes the feeling of a bait and switch, so don’t glorify a low-level position with a bunch of loaded words. For example, if a secretary will be expected to answer telephones, you probably don’t want to include a phrase like “will communicate with the public on behalf of the company” in the job description. You’re not selling a job to candidates, so leave the advertising jargon for your marketing department. Simply and clearly state the actual job responsibilities and requirements. Then, you’ll hopefully get candidates who are both qualified and interested in the role to apply.
Brand your company.
Ideally, your jobs page should act as an enticement to candidates. Show off your company culture, your values, and a few of the perks of working with you. This will get candidates excited to possibly join the team and will help with recruiting efforts. However, don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Just because many startups offers beer kegs and ping pong doesn’t mean you have to as well. Be honest about your company culture, create a brand identity, and share what it’s really like to work there with candidates.
Be up front with expectations.
People want you to tell them exactly what you want from them — especially job candidates. They want to know how much time the application will take, the qualifications you’re looking for, what working for the company entails, etc. Save the fluff, and just tell it like it is. If you want someone with 5 years of experience, tell the candidate. If you have a hard limit on the salary, share that as well. The more clarity there is from the start, the less time you will waste sorting through candidates that aren’t right for the job.
Don’t leave candidates wondering.
For candidates, there’s nothing worse than applying to a job and then hearing nothing back. Send them an email that you have received their application. Then, send a follow up correspondence to let them know if they are or are not still in the running, or if they’re moving onto the next step in the hiring process. The guessing game as to whether they should just keep seeking other positions is already frustrating enough. When in doubt, over communicate and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Similar to communication, candidates will judge your company based on how you handle the day-to-day details of the hiring process. If you’ve lost their resume twice, showed up late to a phone screen and double booked yourself for an interview, you’re not giving the candidate a positive impression. Always remember that the candidate is judging you as a hiring manager, a boss, or an HR leader just as much as you’re judging them. Especially for top quality candidates, you have to keep the process organized, timely, and on track. This shows that your company will be a good place to work in the future.
Give feedback if you don’t make an offer.
If you decide not to make an offer and the candidate wants to know why they didn’t get the job, figure out how to explain it to them. You don’t have to be rude, but you also shouldn’t be too vague. “We simply decided to go in a different direction,” is wishy-washy at best. Instead you could be honest and say “we felt another candidate had more qualifications of XY and Z, and therefore, was better suited for the position.” Most candidates will appreciate the honesty and it will help them in their continuing job search.
Thank them for taking the time to apply.
It takes a lot for someone to put themselves out there and go after a job. Thanking a candidate for even applying regardless of the outcome can be the difference between a candidate who feels your company cares, and one that doesn’t. How they feel about your company could influence whether they want to apply for a future position in the event they aren’t the right fit for this one.
Ask the candidate for feedback.
Letting candidates voice how they felt the application experience lets the candidate know you care about their opinion and their feelings in the role. It also can help you refine your application process for the future. You may learn that some of your questions or tests were outdated or unclear. Or, you could get confirmation that you have the best applications candidates have ever seen. Either way, taking and giving feedback can assist both parties for future experiences.
As a hiring manager, don’t just assume that every candidate wants to work for you company. You have to offer a great candidate experience that will prove to them that it’s a fantastic place to work.
Making hiring about merit, not background | Co-founder and CEO of Vervoe