Chris Russell

3 min read


Candidate Engagement Best Practices for Recruiters

Candidate Engagement has become a big concern for employers during the past year. All kinds of new studies are pointing to a disconnect between the candidate experience and what most companies can deliver. Why does that make candidate experience so important? Because it can be a critical advantage (or disadvantage) vs. your competitors!

For example, a lack of information about pay and benefits (50%) and interview schedule changes (50%) are the two biggest causes of frustration during the interview process according to recent research from Glassdoor.

Companies who get candidate engagement realize that it can differentiate them in a tight labor market. How you make job seekers feel during the hiring process can make or break their perspective on coming to work for you.

Among the most common candidate engagement problems reported by candidates include;

  • A long or cumbersome apply process (especially on mobile)
  • Lack of status updates regarding their application
  • Job descriptions that don’t tell the whole story
  • Long hiring process (too many interviews, drawn out process)
  • Lack of feedback and communication with recruiter
  • Not rejecting them in a timely manner

With that in mind, here are several ways to make that experience more inviting to prospective candidates.

Streamline Your Apply Process

Look for ways to reduce the amount of fields in your online application form. Consider moving to a new ATS if your current one isn’t job seeker friendly. Vendors like Greenhouse actually let you put a short apply form right at the bottom of each job description which cuts down on clicks and improves applicant conversion rates.

Set Their Expectations

Candidates want to know what your process is like before they apply. So tell them! Publish it on a page on your career site like what GEICO does here. They break down the entire process in several steps that detail what the candidate will experience. Content like this is easy to create for any HR team. In addition be sure your recruiters explain it during the initial phone screen to reiterate what they may have seen online. Personalize the Experience

Whenever possible make your career site more personalized. Technology now exists to show different content to different candidates based on their job preferences. Tailor that experience to them and they will be more likely to apply. Things like auto suggest when performing a keyword search or detecting their location via the web browser is a simple tactic now offered by many modern applicant tracking systems. Also be sure to personalize all email communications with their first name.

You can personalize the interview too. One company we know about asks candidates what type of soft drink they prefer to drink and have it ready for the on site visit. That is a simple low cost way to say you care.

Send More Status Updates

Nothing frustrates the candidate more when they go days or weeks without hearing back from the employer after the initial touch point. This is where technology like text recruiting can be extremely helpful. A simple text message about what’s happening with their candidacy is a good weekly touch point. In fact I’d argue it’s a MUST do in today’s competitive market. 

Make Onboarding Simple

Even if you get the candidate to say yes, you still need to onboard them properly. The good news is that onboarding is one of the easiest things to get right. It just takes a concerted effort by your team. Onboarding means setting that candidate up for success. So try to digitize as much of the paperwork as you can. Use e-signature services to get their forms filled out quickly before their first day so they can hit the ground running. 

Have a plan in place for their first few days. Introduce them to the immediate team members, take them to lunch, orientation or whatever else is needed to get them off to a good start. A good practice is to have their future boss reach out to them and describe how excited they are to have them onboard. Taking the time to welcome a new hire (who may be nervous) is a great way to set the right first impression.

Ask for Feedback

It’s important to provide the candidate with feedback on their interview performance but the same is true for the reverse scenario. Employers who ask for feedback from candidates stand to learn a great deal about their hiring process from an outsider perspective. Create a short survey of 4-6 questions about how they were treated during the hiring process. Not only will you engage them, but the data you will learn will help you tweak the process to make it as engaging as possible.

The candidate experience should be a mindset for any talent acquisition professional hiring today. Companies that go the extra mile to please strong candidates who they end up not hiring will leave a positive impression which could lead to new referrals and positive ratings on sites like Glassdoor. They may even apply again later in the career.

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered;

5 Ways to Add Texting to Your Candidate Engagement

  1. Enable share by text of your job descriptions so others can easily refer your openings.
  2. Update candidates by text every step of the way.
  3. Personalize any text messages that they opt  into with their first name.
  4. Alert them of their onboarding paperwork (remind if still not completed)
  5. Survey them once hired to get their opinion of the process.

About Emissary

Emissary is a candidate engagement platform built to empower recruiters with efficient, modern communication tools that work in harmony with other recruiting solutions.

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