by Deidre Koppelman, Founder and CEO of PEAR Core Solutions
To state the glaringly obvious: every candidate you hire becomes your employee. Now consider this: before they get a company email address and computer, before meeting with HR for paperwork, before the “first day lunch” with the team, the new employee has already experienced some aspects of what it’s like to work at your company.
As a candidate, they likely:
- explored your website (and probably other sites that have information – both good and bad – about your company)
- exchanged emails, phone calls, and met in person with HR, their future manager, and colleagues
- saw employees’ cubicles and offices, heard snippets of phone calls or conversations, drank your coffee
- took assessments (such as the JTPW) or even completed an assignment
- negotiated a salary or other benefits
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that a hired candidate will be so thankful for being offered the job that they will forget or forgive any portion of this hiring process that was unpleasant.
Sweat the details
The candidate is agonizing over every detail (what they say, how they say it, their body language, what they wear, getting there early but not too early…). Doesn’t it seem fair that you put in at least a little effort to thank them for putting in all of this work? Keep in mind that you need to fill the position as much as – and sometimes more than – they need a job.
What does it mean to sweat the details? It means thinking through the entire process from start to finish:
- Carefully and accurately writing a job posting
- Communicating with candidates at every step of the process (whether they make it past to the first hurdle or not)
- Considering carefully who will speak with them and what messages will each person convey about the company and the job
- Planning the interview(s) process from start to finish:
- How will they be scheduled?
- Who will meet the candidate when they arrive?
- Will someone offer them water/coffee/tea?
- Will the room be too hot or too cold?
- Will the interviewers know what they are doing? What questions they should/should not ask and what to look for in the answers.
- What will happen after the interview? Who will keep in touch with the candidate, and how and what will they communicate?
Communication – convey both the good news and bad news
It’s terrible having to communicate bad news to candidates, but it’s just as important as communicating the good news. Set yourself up with templates, and if you are using application tracking systems of some sort, then use their emailing functionality so that you don’t have to send emails manually. A few examples of communications you should ensure happen:
- “Thanks for applying.” When someone applies to a position, the least you can do is ensure they get a confirmation that their application was received. Bonus points if you humanize the message (for example, keep the message light and even humorous).
- Rejection emails: As bad as it feels to a candidate to get a rejection, it’s preferable to hearing nothing at all. A kindly worded automated rejection email will help candidates to remember you for communicating with them more so than rejecting them.
- “Status quo” communications: For candidates you already interviewed, keep them informed of process status (for instance, if it’s been a week and you still need to interview more candidates). This is respectful and also helps ensure they will not rush into accepting another position.
Do you assess candidates? Help them to help themselves!
If you utilize assessments as part of your hiring process (and you likely do, given that you are reading this article on the HRPersonality site) you have a perfect opportunity to provide a lasting impression on your candidates by helping them in their job search and even in their career – even if you don’t hire them.
Learning opportunity for the candidate. Marketing opportunity for your brand.
When you assess a candidate using something like the JTPW, consider running a secondary report that is just for the candidate, and present it to them during the interview. Think about what you have just done: you’ve said to the candidate that I value your learning and growth, even before I’ve hired you – and even if I don’t hire you! Think of the positive impression you will make on candidates, and the implications that can have for your brand. Candidates post about their experience on job board sites, and this is the kind of thing that will very likely gain your company positive feedback.
- For those candidates you hire: they start off on a strong foot because they know more about themselves and the things that are expected of them in their position
- For those candidates you reject: they walk away also knowing more about themselves, and they likely have a much higher view of your company than any other company from which they’ve been rejected
This is a highly underutilized method of ensuring a positive candidate experience and simultaneously setting up the hired employees for future success.
The relationship doesn’t (have to) end with rejection letter
If all of this seems like a lot of effort just to ensure a positive candidate experience, let’s look at the benefits to your company even when you reject a candidate. Have you ever thought about the fact that some of your future (or current) customers or clients could very well be someone you reject as a hire? If your hiring process impressed them enough, they may even be a source of referral to other candidates or customers. This potential future relationship only stands a chance if that rejected candidate felt positive about the hiring process.
The human factor
Resumes come flooding through the gates as soon as the job gets posted, and we as employers can easily forget that a real person is behind each of them. Now, we all know that some candidates put less thought into submitting their resumes than choosing which Netflix show to binge on next. However, even those candidates who don’t put in the effort will have invested some level of hope. While you obviously should not make hiring decisions based on the hopes and dreams of your candidates, it is nonetheless important to remember that you should keep the human factor in mind as you go through the hiring process.
If you are focused at all on treating your employees with respect, empathy, and maybe even helping them grow, then your best hope to ensure your employees trust those efforts is to extend the same treatment to them while they are candidates.