How Do Candidates Want to Be Treated?

Many of us in the executive search business or corporate recruitment field talk about candidate care as an important aspect of what we do.  How do we communicate and interact with candidates during the recruitment process?  How often should we communicate with them?  The definition of “candidate care” is different from person to person, firm to firm and company to company.

 

One aspect of the recruitment process that is guaranteed to frustrate candidates is lack of communication.  For example, you have applied for a position and perhaps have interviewed with the search firm or company, but unfortunately, there is a limited feedback loop about where you stand in the process.  No one likes to be ignored or avoided.  It leaves you feeling negatively about the potential employer, and that negative news spreads to others – especially in the age of social media.

 

So what are some best practices for treating candidates so that even if they are not selected, they feel they have been treated respectfully and fairly?

 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

If several weeks go by without any decisions on next steps, you – as the search consultant or recruiter – should call or send the candidate a message.  Let them know they are still being considered but the process is taking longer than expected.   Even if you don’t have any news, still contact them.  Some news is better than no contact.  Leaving candidates in limbo can be a turn-off, and it can also disengage them from the process and your company.

 

Show Them the Love

Encourage the hiring executive to pick up the phone or send an email to let the candidate know they are still interested in their candidacy.  The bottom line is that taking a personal approach – particularly if the hiring executive becomes involved – will go a long way in keeping the candidate engaged.  An effective leader understands this and should be an active participant in the process.

 

Interact in a Friendly and Welcoming Manner

How is a candidate treated from the moment they apply for the position to when they walk through the door of the office and interact with employees and managers?  Do you welcome them, or are they (and other candidates) treated in such a way that they feel they are imposing on your time?  Do your colleagues take the initiative to reach out and help them navigate the building?  Eye contact and a friendly smile set the tone for candidates’ impressions of the company and its employees; they can make a huge difference.

 

Be Responsive

Most candidates just want to know where they stand – whether it’s good or bad.  If regular updates are difficult to provide as a result of the volume of applicants, develop some email templates for several scenarios; these messages can certainly be personalized and are better than no communication.

 

Many staffing departments are excited about their sophisticated applicant tracking systems, but the best technology in the world should not replace the personal touch.  Recruiting can be enhanced by – not replaced by – technology.  Personal touches send the right message: that your company or client is an exciting and enjoyable place to work, and that you truly want to find the best people for the job and culture.

 

Remember, these suggestions don’t cost a thing and could make a significant difference in wooing a star to join your team, enhance the image of your employer brand and influence more quality candidates to consider joining your company.  It is a win-win for all, as a happy candidate can turn into a happy employee or customer as well.

Sally Stetson
Sally brings more than two decades of experience as an executive search consultant. She has worked across diverse industries including life sciences and pharmaceutical, healthcare systems, manufacturing, telecommunications, non-profit and professional services. The Philadelphia Business Journal named Sally as one of its "2006 Women of Distinction", and as one of SmartCEO Magazine's 2010 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement award winners.

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