02/15/2012 09.00 EST
As an executive search consultant, I have heard several horror stories from candidates about negative experiences at the hands of companies and recruiters. If some of the scenarios below don’t sound familiar, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
CareerXroads publishes an annual survey about how a “mystery candidate” is treated by the 100 Best Companies to Work For, as listed by Fortune. According to this year’s report, 79% of candidates who apply for a position expect to receive some feedback, but only 19% of the top 100 companies inform candidates if they are not being considered.
As more companies begin to accelerate their hiring needs, it is so important for both internal and external recruiters to focus on improving the candidate experience. The best candidates are quite difficult to find and are in demand, even in slower economic times. As the market continues to heat up, these star candidates will become even more difficult to recruit. So, to ensure you put your best foot forward when assessing talent, follow the below tips. You’d be surprised how often these simple steps are not put into regular practice.
1. Warm and friendly welcome
Ensure all of your organization’s front-line personnel – including receptionists, security guards, parking attendants and assistants – are friendly, extend themselves and make candidates feel welcome. For security purposes, it is important to “process” people, but please drop the robotic manner. First impressions are important – smile, chat about the weather, ask them if they encountered traffic – say something to make them feel good.
2. Structure the schedule with humanity in mind
Evaluate the interview schedule, making sure candidate meetings contain a mixture of relevant business executives as well as human resources professionals. Have you provided spaces in the schedule for a brief break or lunch? Are all of the interviewers on board with how to approach the interviews? Do you have a plan in advance to determine who is focusing on which topics? If the candidate is traveling from out of town, make the experience worth his or her time. Be sure interviewers don’t ask the same questions and organize meetings with several important people within your organization.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once candidates have completed interviews, let them know an approximate time when they can expect to hear from you. One of the complaints I hear most frequently is that candidates don’t hear back from companies following an interview. If you expect there to be a lag in communication or you don’t yet have an answer, just tell them. People simply want to know something. In this case, always use the tried and true rule: treat others the way you would want to be treated.
4. Show the love
Sometimes a search process extends longer than anyone wants. Pick up the phone – especially if you are the hiring manager – and show candidates some love. Let them know what is going on, why you remain interested in their candidacy and continue to woo them. Tell them the status of the search or share with them news of exciting projects you recently started working on that may increase their interest in the company. Bottom line – candidates want to know that you remember them. Those periodic check-ins will mean a great deal in keeping them engaged throughout the process, even during a prolonged one.
5. Bring closure to the process
For the candidates who are not selected for the position, the company absolutely should tell them. No one enjoys delivering bad news, but it is worse to leave applicants wondering if they remain candidates. Make a personal call. Just do it. Most candidates simply want to know where they stand. Leaving candidates in the dark can be a public relations nightmare – if candidates talk, news will spread that the company lacks responsiveness.
As the job market continues to improve, the importance of positive candidate experiences only increases. Communicating in a consistent and authentic way will make a world of difference in attracting the right candidates and increasing your reputation as the employer of choice.